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How to Prepare a Microscope Slide

One of the most basic parts of working with a microscope is preparing a slide. The microscope slide holds the specimen you will be examining through the microscope. In order to see your specimen clearly and observe it for any appreciable length of time, you must know how to prepare a microscope slide properly.

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  1. Make sure your slide, cover slip and medicine dropper are all clean, dry and dust-free.

  2. Place your flat slide on a clean, dry surface.

  3. Use your medicine dropper to suck up a few drops of your liquid sample.

  4. Squeeze one drop of your liquid sample out onto the direct center of the flat slide.

  5. Gently lower your cover slip onto the flat slide. Put one edge of the cover slip down first, before lowering the rest of it. Do not press down on the cover slip once it is in place.

  6. Pick up the slide and cover slip combination and gently place it in the viewing tray of your microscope.

  7. Suck up a few drops of your liquid sample into your medicine dropper.

  8. Pick up your well slide with your free hand. Use two fingers to do this and grasp only the outer edges of the slide.

  9. Squeeze three to four drops of your liquid sample out of the medicine dropper and into the depression on the well slide.

  10. Place the well slide on the viewing tray of the microscope.

  11. Tip

    Flat slides are simply flat pieces of glass. Well slides have a small depression in the middle of them. This depression is intended to hold water. Always hold your slides and cover slips by their outer edges. Touching any other part may leave fingerprints on the glass, which could negatively impact the quality of your observation. Most prepared slides last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before they dry out. You can increase this time to a few days on a flat slide by carefully applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to all four edges of a cover slip. Once the jelly is in place, you can lower the cover slip onto the flat slide as usual. Press at the edges very gently. This creates a sealed environment for your sample that will prevent it from drying out too quickly.

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Things You'll Need

  • Well slide
  • Medicine dropper
  • Cover slip
  • Flat slide

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