How To Use Microfiche

How to use microfiche? Microfiche? What is microfiche? You’ve got to be kidding. Who uses microfiche in a digital world? Actually, tens of thousands of people use microfiche every day.  In reality, there are millions of documents that have not been digitized.  Many of these documents exist in public and private libraries and these libraries store volumes of information on microfiche. It is still necessary for students and modern day researchers to know how to efficiently operate a microfiche machine in a digital world.

To begin.  Individual microfiche resemble photo negatives whose dimensions are typically four by six inches.

  1. Turn on the power button, generally located on the side or underneath the machine.
  2. You are now ready to load a single microfiche.
  3. Pull out the microfiche tray the tray is actually two glass plates. The top glass plate rises as the tray is pulled toward you whereas the bottom tray is fixed.

    Note: There is a right way to view the microfiche. The microfiche, when properly loaded, can be viewed as if you are reading a newspaper or a book, from left to right, top to bottom.

  4. Place the fiche on the bottom glass tray.
  5. Close the top glass retainer while pushing the tray back into its original position.

Viewing microfiche materials. Microfiche/film machine controls ensure maximum view ability is located in one of two places on the machine. Some machines will have levers that are located on the glass tray. Other machines will have knobs located on either side of the viewing screen.

  1. Adjust the image by turning the knobs or by moving the levers left/right, or up/down.
  2. Adjust the focus until the writing on the microfiche can be clearly read.
  3. The machine has the capacity to either zoom in or out of the image on the fiche.
  4. The machine also has the ability to “scan” all of the material located on a specific microfiche.

Printing microfiche products. All microfiche/film machines in libraries have a print function. For microfiche machines, only the information that appears between the upper and lower crosshairs on the microfiche will be printed.

  1. Prior to printing, use the “zoom” to adjust the size of the image.
  2. Use the focus lever or side buttons to ensure clarity.
  3. After inserting either coins or a pre-purchased debit card, press the print key.
  4. Review printed material.


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