Commonly Used Anatomic Direction Terms

Need multiple seats for your university or lab? Get a quote
The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Basic Tissue Orientation and Paraffin Embedding Technique. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Basic Tissue Orientation and Paraffin Embedding Technique (online CE course)
Commonly Used Anatomic Direction Terms

Longitudinal Along the length of; lengthwise
Sagittal A longitudinal, vertical plane that divides into right and left sides.
Mid-sagittalA plane which divides the body into anterior and posterior.
InferiorThe bottom half, toward the feet.
CaudalLocated at or near the hind or posterior of the body. Means the same as "dorsal" and "posterior."
InferiorBeneath. Used to reference an under-structure or something below another referenced structure.
SuperiorThe top half, toward the head.
DistalAway from the center.
Cross-sectionA plane formed by cutting though an object at right angles to an axis, which provides a representative sample of most parts contained within the whole.
ProximalNearest to a point of reference, such as a point of origin.
Horizontal (transverse)A plane that is parallel to the ground.

Orange cut in a longitudinal section.
Orange cut in cross-section.