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Recent theoretical analysis of the effect of using lasers with significant linewidths in coherent optical fiber transmission systems has shown how the design of the optical receiver, particularly the IF stage, affects the sensitivity. This paper reviews this theory for two classes of coherent systems-those making a differential phase measurement, and those not using phase information-where the requirements on laser linewidth are not stringent. We discuss the factors that affect the performance of systems with significant laser phase noise. Wherever possible, we compare the theoretical results with published system experiments. We show that our theory fits the experimental data well and indicates why experimental results have fallen short of the theoretical limits.