A formal classification of the land plants that is compatible with the APG III classification is proposed. Previous classifications inflated taxonomic ranks, particularly of the angiosperms. If the major clades of green algae are recognized as classes, then all land plants, the embryophytes, should be included in a single class, here recognized as Equisitopsida. Accordingly, the 16 major clades of land plants, including the angiosperms, should all be recognized as subclasses, the angiosperms as Magnoliidae. Major clades within the angiosperms are then recognized as superorders. This classification still uses a few informal categories (e.g. eudicots, lamiids, etc.) within the angiosperms because this is convenient. Two new names are established: Amborellanae and Austrobaileyanae. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 161, 122–127.