Microscope Slides Cheat Sheet

Ever wonder what slides you should use for your application?

What is the difference between plain vs. frosted or 90 degree edge vs. a beveled edge?  Well you are in the right place for all this information.  The simple answer is that there is no one slide that can be used in all applications across all departments for a budget price.

But don’t fret! We are here to give you everything you need to find what you are looking for.


Sometimes you will need a 3” x 1” slide but companies are offering a 75 mm x 25 slide.

These may cost different, but in reality these are the same size; just different units of measurement between metric and US standard.  There are plenty of other sizes for slides but the 3” x 1” and 75mm x 25mm are the standard that most applications use.


Do the edges make a difference?

In the past, customers needed/wanted a beveled or angled edge to make a good liquid smear (such as blood) on a slide.

Now, that isn’t a problem as we do not make 90 degree edges anymore; but instead make a rounded polished edge (in addition to the beveled edge).  It is believed that both work to make a quality liquid smear but most recommend the polished edges because they are more cost efficient. But beveled edges are still offered to customers who still prefer them.


There are several different types of corner options

  • 90 degrees – Means the corners are “pointy”.
  • 45 degrees – This means that the corners are cut at 45 degree angle.  This is sometimes required for automated machines and are more comfortable to hold, but the precise 45 angle increases cost.
  • Clipped or nicked corners – These are a cross between 90 and 45.  The nicked corner makes it comfortable to hold but not having a precise angel helps keep the cost down.

Charged slides

A charged slide refers to the manufacturer adding a chemical or charge to the slide.  This means that some tissue will “stick” to the slide better.  There are various ways and formulas to charge a slide.  Most charged slides cost much more than a non-charged slide and are only used for specific applications.

Hydrophobic vs. hydrophilic

In chemistry “hydrophobic” means to repel water and “hydrophilic” means to attract water.

In the slide industry, having hydrophobic slides is terrible since liquid specimens are being repelled from slides. Typically the user wants the liquid to “go flat” on the slide. The “flatter” the specimen, the fewer layers of cells, liquid etc. and this means a better slide under a microscope.

The exception to this rule is when using Charged Slides. Some applications under-go harsh techniques in the process of staining/fixing/retrieving solutions and users need the specimen to stick. Dealing with water repelling is less important than keeping the specimen in place.

What is a gross of slides?

This is a very good question and is often very confusing for the customer.

Typically slides come 72 pcs in a box (aka ½ gross). So 2 boxes of 72 slides is called a gross, which is the typical selling unit. Customers often just order a case of slides.  A case of slides commonly has 20 boxes of 72  =  10 gross  = 1440 slides.

What kind of slide do I need?

This is really dependent on

  1. What application are you using?
  2. Do you want to write on the slide?  Plain slides are difficult to write on, but frosted slides are easier.  The painted end slides are even easier to write, etch or print on.  They come in a variety of color to  help categorize the slides.
  3. Your budget.

See the chart below.  The slides at the top are typically less expensive than the slides at the bottom