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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Reading and Reporting Gram Stained Direct Smears. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Gram-positive Cocci

Bacteria may have a very distinctive appearance when viewed on a Gram-stained smear. Distinct characteristics are not as evident on direct smears as they are on Gram stains of colonies and/or stains from broth cultures, but these shapes can be identified on direct smears.

  • Cocci: Round or oval
  • Bacilli: Rod-shaped

Gram-positive cocci (GPC):

  • Singly and in clusters (May indicate staphylococci)
  • In pairs and chains (May indicate streptococci)

GPC can be seen in clusters and chains in image 1

Image 1