All three types of peripheral blood cells have different characteristics. In order to accurately identify each type of cell, a peripheral blood film must be made, preferably from blood anticoagulated with EDTA or from capillary blood. EDTA, in contrast to many other anticoagulants, preserves cellular morphology.
The individual characteristics of each cell type are made visible by staining the blood films with Wright stain and observing them under the microscope. Most laboratories utilize oil magnification for the morphologic identification of peripheral blood cells.