The demoiselle is 85–100 cm (34–39 in) long, 76 cm (30 in) tall and has a 155–180 cm (61–71 in) wingspan. It weighs 2–3 kg (4.4–6.6 lbs). It is the smallest species of crane. The demoiselle crane is slightly smaller than the common crane but has similar plumage. It has a long white neck stripe and the black on the foreneck extends down over the chest in a plume.
It has a loud trumpeting call, higher-pitched than the common crane. Like other cranes it has a dancing display, more balletic than the common crane, with less leaping.