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Capacitance due to geometric influence of the finite tip shape and influence of distant surface points can lead to artifacts in scanning Kelvin probe microscopy (SKPM) images. These artifacts appear as features in the SKPM image which are due only to tip/surface geometry and not to true surface potential variations. They can also cause blurring of real features. Such effects are most prominent for samples with rich topography. We present here a method for identifying and removing these artifacts, and demonstrate it for a gold sample with rich topography relative to the nearly flat surface potential fluctuations. © 2000 American Vacuum Society.