The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Describing a Red Blood Cell Population Using RBC Indices and Red Cell Distribution Width. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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RBC Size and Color Descriptions

The terms for size and color of red blood cells (RBCs) are used in combination to provide a description of the RBC morphology observed on the slide. These descriptions take into account the indices reported by the automated instrument. This may then be used to categorize an anemia and provide directions for additional testing.
Examples of morphologic descriptors are shown on the table below.

MCV (fL) and MCHC g/dL
Peripheral Smear Observations
Descriptive Terms
80-100 fL and 32-36 g/dL
Normocytic/Normochromic
(normal size and normal color/normal hemoglobin concentration)
<80 fL and <32 g/dL
Microcytic/Hypochromic
(small size and reduced color/reduced hemoglobin concentration)
>100 fL and 32-36 g/dL
Macrocytic/Normochromic
(large size and normal color/normal hemoglobin concentration)