A good image starts at the bench. The best performing instrument will not produce rigorous, reproducible or high quality data unless sample preparation has been optimized. To design a rigorous and reproducible microscopy experiment, it is critical to identify the goal of the experiment and understand the factors that impact the image. This information informs researchers about how to prepare the sample, what minimal controls and corrections are needed, how to choose the appropriate instrumentation, optimize acquisition, analyze and present microscopy data.

Here we will discuss some of the key choices you will make during sample preparation, including selecting your sample type and fluorophore (if you’re performing fluorescence microscopy). We also discuss some minimal controls necessary for interpreting your results.