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HPLC Solutions #133: Resources 4: Where Do I Find More Information About...?

This is the fourth instalment of HPLC Solutions related to resources you should have at your fingertips when you are working in an HPLC laboratory (see also #130, 131,132). In the last discussion (#132) we looked at online resources from the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding validation of HPLC methods. This time I’d like to mention a few books that I find indispensable in my day-to-day work as a chromatographer. The first three form my trifecta of HPLC books that I refer to most often. 

Introduction to Modern Liquid Chromatography
(3rd ed., L.R. Snyder, J.J. Kirkland, and J.W. Dolan; Wiley, 2010, 912 pp).

This book is often referred to as the “Bible of HPLC,” because it contains such a vast amount of information about nearly every aspect of HPLC. To give you an idea of its popularity, the second edition sold 22,000 copies, which is a best seller for technical resource books. The cover is literally falling off of my second edition it has been used so much. This book is written for both the beginner and expert alike. Descriptions of processes, hardware, and procedures are given in simple-to-read language for the beginner and other sections contain all the underlying equations for the experts. Most of the book is very readable, and should be required reading if you consider yourself a professional chromatographer. If I could own only one book on HPLC, this would be the one.

High-Performance Gradient Elution
(L.R. Snyder and J.W. Dolan; Wiley, 2007, 461 pp).
As the title suggests, this is a book about gradient elution. If you are using gradients, and most of us are, this is the book for you. It goes into much more detail about gradients than the Introduction book does, giving both a solid theoretical basis of how and why gradients work, as well as practical instructions on how to develop gradients and how to modify them to get the results you need. I regularly refer to its contents via the index to help answer your questions about gradient elution. Without a doubt, there is more information about gradient elution between the covers of this book than you’ll find anywhere else.

Practical HPLC Method Development
(2nd ed., L.R. Snyder, J.J. Kirkland, and J.L. Glajch; Wiley, 1997, 765 pp).

Although the publication date is 18 years old, the quality of the content is still very relevant to today’s chromatographer. I’m not aware of any newer book that does such a good job of presenting a very practical and universal approach to method development. Its content serves as the foundation of our popular “Advanced HPLC and UHPLC Method Development” class. No, it does not talk about UHPLC, sub-2-micron particles, or superficially porous particles, but the basic principles of method development are the same for these newer aspects of HPLC, so transliteration to newer technology is easy (and if you have the Intro book, it fills in the gaps on newer techniques). The book describes method development for reversed-phase as well as other chromatography modes, demonstrating the effect of each variable, and coaching the reader on how to go about the method development process. This is definitely a book that will remain at my fingertips for years to come.

Validating Chromatographic Methods
(D.M. Bliesner; Wiley, 2006, 291 pp plus CD).

The subtitle of this book is “A Practical Guide,” and indeed that is just what this is. If you are involved in method validation, this is an excellent resource. The specific guidelines for validation are given by the ICH and FDA and referenced in the previous instalment of HPLC Solutions (#132). This book is a perfect complement to the ICH Q2(R1) document, because it tells how to apply it in a practical way. It describes an overview of validation as well as specific steps. I learn very well from examples, and Bliesner presents specific examples of validation, including numeric results, to help me better understand how to apply the guidelines. The book ends with a set of templates that can be used as the basis of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for method validation. AND those templates are also included on a CD tucked into the back cover, so you don’t even have to retype them! The ICH and FDA guidelines are still the final authority, but Bleisner describes how to apply them in a practical way.

Sample Preparation Fundamentals for Chromatography
(R.E. Majors; Agilent Technologies, 2013, 353 pp.)

Many of us know about Ron Majors through his 30+ years of writing practical advice on sample preparation in one of the trade journals. For many of us, sample preparation can be more challenging than developing the chromatographic separation. Ron summarizes his years of experience, describing traditional techniques, such as liquid-liquid extraction (LLE), popular ones, such as solid-phase extraction (SPE), and more exotic ones, such as solid-phase microextraction (SPME), as well as everything in between. Descriptive information plus practical advice on solving sample prep problems make this a must-have on the bookshelf. Don’t be put off by the fact that this book is published by a manufacturer of sample prep materials — it is very even-handed and unbiased.
There are many other books on HPLC and related topics that will enhance your skills and efficiency. I have nearly 2 m of bookshelf stuffed with the books that I want to have at my fingertips. Some are very focused, such as one on data integration or column chemistry; others address troubleshooting, statistics, or how to understand variation in data. While I like to read novels in electronic format on my Kindle, I find that hard copies are much more convenient to use as reference books. Mine are filled with sticky notes, dog-eared pages, and yellow highlighter. If you stay in the field of chromatography long, you’ll have your own favourite reference books. (A buyer’s tip: look first at Amazon for these titles – the price is usually lower than from the publisher, you may be able to find a used copy, and shipping will be less if you live outside the US.)

John Dolan is best known as one of the world’s foremost HPLC troubleshooting authorities. He is also known for his ongoing research with Lloyd Snyder, resulting in more than 100 technical publications and three books.
Contact John at


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