Troubleshooting stains (2)

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From:"J. A. Kiernan" <>
To:Histonet <>
Content-Type:TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

                                             14th April 2000

  About a year ago I posted a message to HistoNet about a
  book published in 1998 that looked as if it should be useful 
  to anyone doing staining. I would now like to give a more
  informed opinion, having had the time to read pretty-well
  everything in the book.

  First of all, what is it?  The title is:
  "Troubleshooting Histology Stains," and it's by Richard W. Horobin
  and John D. Bancroft. New York and Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  pp. xvi + 266, with 36 colour plates. ISBN 0 443 05312 X. Hardback. 
  Needless to say, both authors are well known and have written other
  books in the field. 

  A short introduction is followed by the coloured photos, which
  illustrate tissues correctly stained by many methods. Collection of
  these plates into a concentrated block of pages must have been the
  publisher's idea, to reduce printing costs. It would make for easier
  reading if each illustration accompanied the explanation of its
  technique. There are 36 plates, each illustrating a different method.
  It's unfortunate that 22 of the techniques discussed in the text
  are not illustrated; perhaps this would have made the price 

  The main part of the book contains accounts of 58 different 
  staining methods, in alphabetical order. Each account begins with 
  background information about how the method works. This is 
  followed by hints on avoiding problems (What types of specimen
  processing are suitable? Is the procedure easy to carry out?)
  and on dealing with problems that may arise (e.g. Staining
  solution looks peculiar; Tissue stains unexpectedly weakly;
  Unexpected structures stain).  Each type of difficulty is
  explained, with instructions for putting it right or avoiding 
  it next time. There are references in the text, which can be
  followed up by referring to the 10-page bibliography. 

  Anyone intending to buy this book should realize that it does 
  not contain instructions for doing the staining methods. There
  is a list (pp 257-261) of places to find practical instructions 
  for all the methods considered. (In almost every case this is 
  a page reference to Bancroft & Stevens, 1996.)  

  It seems to me that Horobin & Bancroft address their remarks to 
  those of us who have tried and failed when attempting to carry
  procedures by following published instructions. This surely is 
  the experience of all Histonetters. Our merry listserver would
  not exist if every published staining method provided a perfect
  result, every time. H & B's book is a reference that anticipates
  and provides answers for many questions of the kind that come
  up on HistoNet. The book is quite expensive for its size, but
  not unduly so for something in a specialized field. Books last
  much longer than most laboratory items, and you could buy two
  copies of this one for the price of a fairly ordinary pH meter. 
  It contains much information that cannot be found in print
  anywhere else.

 John A. Kiernan,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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