Sedimentary facies are bodies of sediment recognizably different from adjacent sediment deposited in a different depositional environment. Generally, facies are distinguished by what aspect of the rock or sediment is being studied. Thus, facies based on petrological characters such as grain size and mineralogy are called lithofacies, whereas facies based on fossil content are called biofacies.
These facies types are usually further subdivided, for example, you might refer to a "tan, cross-bedded oolitic limestone facies" or a "shale facies". The characteristics of the rock unit come from the depositional environment and original composition. Sedimentary facies reflect depositional environment, each facies being a distinct kind of sediment for that area or environment.
Since its inception, the facies concept has been extended to related geological concepts. For example, characteristic associations of organic microfossils, and particulate organic material, in rocks or sediments, are called palynofacies. Discrete seismic units are similarly referred to as seismic facies.