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Thin‐film bond concentrations can be determined from infrared transmission and reflection spectra. Simply using the Lambert–Beer law can lead to errors of 80%. The concept of effective film thickness presented here avoids these errors and still allows a quick determination of the absorption coefficient without using a computer. It fully takes into account the effects of multiple reflections. For weakly absorbing thin films on silicon the effective film thickness was calculated numerically (i) for normal incidence transmission spectra and (ii) for 20° reflection spectra with a mirror behind the sample. The latter method is of general interest for the investigation of weak absorptions as it avoids the disturbing interference oscillations and its sensitivity is about twice that of a transmission measurement. The numerical results are verified experimentally for Si‐H and N‐H vibrations in plasma silicon nitride and analytically for the thin‐film limit.