How to prepare a compound microscope slide

Updated July 19, 2017

Using microscopes to view small organisms, molecules and objects is common. Unlike a magnifying glass, microscopes require slides in order to view the tiny specimens under their lenses. Proper preparation of a microscope slide is essential to successfully viewing specimens under a compound microscope slide. A wet-mount slide is commonly used for viewing living organisms and specimens that require water.

Place a clean, dry glass microscope slide on a flat surface.

Fill the dropper with water or the liquid staining solution. Some specimens are already in liquid. If that's the case, do not add more liquid, but fill the dropper with the liquid containing the specimen.

Place one or two drops in the centre of the microscope slide.

Place the specimen to be examined in the drops of water or liquid if it is not already there.

Holding only the edges of the cover slip, create a 45-degree angle and slowly lower it onto the slide over the drops of liquid. Place one edge down first, and then lower the opposite edge. Do not press down on the cover slip.

Holding the edges, place the slide with the specimen and cover slip on your microscope viewing tray.


Handle the slides and cover slips using only the edges. Fingerprints may cause distortions when viewing the slides. Wet-mount slides are temporary, and they will dry out.


Use caution when handling toxic substances.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass microscope slide
  • Dropper
  • Water or liquid staining solution
  • Item to be examined
  • Cover slip
  • Compound microscope
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Shannon Crawford concentrates her writing in the fields of law and business. A certified paralegal, Crawford holds a master's degree in marketing. She has been writing for various websites and publications since 1991. Her work has appeared in a national print publication and numerous local newspapers. She frequently writes about all things financial.