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Thin-film deposition techniques as applied to magnetic memory applications are reviewed. The relationship between the microstructure of the film and the fabrication technique and pertinent parameters is discussed in terms of the atomistics of film nucleation and growth. The dependence of the magnetic properties governing switching of a magnetic storage element is qualitatively discussed in terms of the microstructure and ripple theory; literature data is used to elucidate this by showing the effects of composition, temperature, thickness, and substrate morphology on the magnetic properties. The literature values for the anisotropy field, coercivity field, and dispersion of various classes of ternary alloys is reviewed, extending previous papers reviewing elemental and binary alloys.