SLAN-4 ("Software Language-4") was developed to meet the need for a formal tool for specifying and designing large software systems. It provides language constructs for algebraic and axiomatic specifications and also pseudocode constructs for the design step. A major design goal was to ease subsequent refinements of a (given) specification. The design can start with a very informal specification, which can be implemented later using lower level concepts. This paper gives an overview of the SLAN-4 syntax and semantics. It concentrates on the most important aspects of: abstract data types, algebraic specification of abstract data types, and axiomatic specification of modules. Because the pseudocode part of SLAN-4 consists mainly of control structures similar to those in modern high-level programming languages, this element of the language is not separately described. The paper includes an example of how to use SLAN-4, and also the experiences gained in using the language to formally specify a real-world software product of about 18 000 lines of code written in an IBM internal high-level language.