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A variety of surface analytical tools are currently available. With each of these tools come hidden pitfalls that one map encounter in the process of doing surface analysis. Examples of the use of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) in the development of a novel vapor phase cleaning methodology are used to illustrate many of these pitfalls. Suggestions are made to assist users of these techniques in avoiding these pitfalls.