Developing Good Pipetting Techniques


In order to achieve optimal and reliable results for our diagnostic services we ensure all staff are
trained to a high degree in basic laboratory skills, such as liquid handling.

Pipettes are used daily in our lab for liquid handling. Two factors contribute to good laboratory
pipetting: tools and techniques. At the Bio-analysis centre we use mainly single channel manual
‘transferpette’ pipettes (Figure 1) which are known to be highly accurate at various volumes; however, the
most important factor is the expertise of the operator.

developing good pipetting techniques

Fig. 1 Single Manual Channel Transferpette

There are two main pipetting techniques: forward pipetting and reverse pipetting (/back pipetting).
Forward pipetting aspirates from the first stop and ejects until the second, whereas reverse
pipetting aspirates from the second stop and ejects until the first.

Other factors include:

– Immersion angle and depth
– Pre-rinsing
– Speed
– Temperature of environment and samples
– Performing pipette leak testing daily

Prolonged poor ergonomics while using pipettes can result in repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and
carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) (El-Helaly et al., 2017). Studies have shown how higher work duration
increases the risk of developing RSI and CTS (El-Helaly et al., 2017, Bjorksten et al., 1994) . During our
training courses we recognise this issue and work with you to improve your pipetting technique
giving you the confidence to work comfortably in a laboratory environment.

Good laboratory pipetting is fundamental in our work producing accurate and precise data from the
HPLC and MS-LC. We are experienced in pipetting difficult solutions such as plasma and serum,
which are notoriously bubbly and therefore difficult to pipette!

Click here to find out more about our 1 day lab skills course.

BJORKSTEN, M. G., ALMBY, B. & JANSSON, E. S. 1994. Hand and shoulder ailments among laboratory
technicians using modern plunger-operated pipettes. Appl Ergon, 25, 88-94.

EL-HELALY, M., BALKHY, H. H. & VALLENIUS, L. 2017. Carpal tunnel syndrome among laboratory
technicians in relation to personal and ergonomic factors at work. J Occup Health, 59, 513-

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