There's a new edition of the original HPLC teaching bible...

Introduction to Modern Liquid Chromatography - 3rd Edition
Lloyd R.Snyder, Joseph J. Kirkland, John W. Dolan.
John Wiley and Sons ( 2010 ) 912 pages.
ISBN 978-0-470-16754-0


It's baaack!. If, like me, the output from your chromatographs is your livelihood, this book must reside on your shelves next to instrument manuals.

For approximately the same price as 4 litres of HPLC grade acetonitrile, you can purchase 912 pages describing how to obtain current best practice separations and maximum utilisation of your instrument, whether it has a flowrate of nL/min. or L/min.

It's current, clearly-indexed, well-referenced, and comprehensive. The inclusion of John Dolan as author has significantly expanded the sections on troubleshooting, and additional expert contributors have enhanced the coverage of the specialist chapters.

This is a book written by practising chromatographers for experienced chromatographers moving into other forms of chromatography, not just for novices learning the art. It's not intended as a cover-to-cover read, but for chapter-by-chapter perusal - according to the reader's immediate information requirements.

It's not cluttered with the detail of quality system and documentation requirements, it's hard core 21st Century chromatography theory and practice - designed for the enthusiast. This is a book that requires a GPS locator beacon in the binding, otherwise borrowers will never return it.


So you have a laboratory with an HPLC and associated paraphernalia. To be effective, the collected wisdom of experts should be easily accessible. You are extremely lucky if you have convenient access such people - treasure them.

When I started in chromatography, instrument suppliers usually provided a free copy of J.J.Kirkland's edited 1974 text "Introduction to Modern Liquid Chromatography" with each new instrument. That was as replaced by the 2nd edition in 1979. It was the first port of call for training users until the mid 1980s, when new technologies obsoleted much of the contents.

Since then, we've survived using a combination of introductory texts from various authors, combined with several more advanced texts - such as the 1988 "Practical HPLC Method Development" 2nd edition by LR Snyder, JJ Kirkland, JL Glajch, and "High-Performance Gradient Elution" by LR Snyder and JW Dolan from a couple of years ago.

Now there's a new edition of the original "Introduction", and it's crammed full with helpful information. It, once again, should be the first purchase of a general introductory text in any laboratory where HPLCs reside. Reading this book, you can learn why separations fail, as well as how to improve existing separations.

Regardless of your Internet-using skills, Internet training courses, and high speed access in 2009, a good reference book remains the most effective method of resolving day-to-day chromatographic issues.


The authors appear ( justifiably ) proud of the layout, indexing, glossary, up-to-date references, and cross-referencing in the book. The extensive documentation of exceptions to suggested general rules, and copious use of real world examples are additional bonuses.

The structure is fairly simple - first the basics for novices,

Chapter 1 = History, useful sources of information
Chapter 2 = Basic theory - only the relevant information.
Chapters 3 - 5 = Hardware
Chapters 6 - 8 = Separation modes ( RP, normal, Ion-X etc.)
Chapter 9 = Gradient method development
Chapter 10 = Computer-assisted method development
Chapters 11-12 = Qualitative and quantitative analysis and validation

Then onto the chapters filled with practical examples and advice,

Chapters 13-15 = Separation of molecules.
Chapter 16 = Sample Preparation techniques
Chapter 17 = Troubleshooting
Appendix I = HPLC solvent properties
Appendix II = Preparing mobile phase buffers

Each chapter is standalone, so if you want to lean about chiral chromatography, then you open Chapter 14 ( Enantiomer Separations ) and start reading. The glossary is often cross-referenced back to the chapter section where the term is used - a very handy feature.

Most chapters conclude with references that are current ( mainly after 1995 with even some from 2009 ) and very relevant to the chapter contents.

The book Index is well laid out, so subsections of topic are obvious by indentation.

Information Quality

I haven't read it from cover to cover, but have read a few pages from each chapter, and a couple of complete chapters. Each chapter contains enough information to assist most competent analysts, firstly to understand the mechanisms behind the separation, and then separation improvement options. As it's an "Introduction to", there's enough information provided to quickly get started on many novel separations, but advanced users in specific fields would move onto specialist texts or Internet sites for further refinement.


This is a review, so the reviewer should have some complaints...
- Contents section all in bold. The information is excellent but the format is intended for the partially-sighted - who then couldn't read the chapter text.
- Small molecule separations don't have their own chapter, but are used extensively as examples in the earlier chapters. There is the Internet for on-line searches, and also specialist books, but many introductions to HPLC techniques occur using small molecules.
- improve the pointers to locations for more advanced specialist separation information ( eg petrochemicals, alternative fuels, pharmaceuticals, food, toxicology, forensic, vitamins etc. ). Yes, there is the Internet, but a "Further Reading" Appendix listing some sources for specific areas of HPLC applications would complement the technique sources provided in the introduction.

It's not too late to address the last of the above points by providing additional information available for download via the publisher's website, as the time between the last two editions has been rather long :-).

My opinions, yours may differ. Please keep having fun,

Bruce Hamilton