The following instructions will enable the scientist, naturalist, collector, or enthusiast to collect, name, and classify Very Small Objects. Through these classifications, participants will be able to study and appreciate the Very Small Objects that surround us, giving each individual a greater command and deeper understanding of his or her environment.


The first and most important step is to correctly identify what a Very Small Object is. The following definitions describe what may be defined as a Very Small Object for the purposes of naming under the Collier System.

Basic terms as specified by the Oxford English Dictionary :

very - adj. - truly; utterly

small - adj. - less in dimension when compared with others of the same class

object - n. - material thing that can be seen or touched

Further definitions of a Very Small Object:

1. Any object that is visible to the naked eye but small enough to go unnoticed most of the time.

2. The maximum dimensions of a Very Small Object are 8 mm by 8 mm by 25 mm long. The object must be able to fit, unforced, into a 1 dram vial. Anything larger than these minimum dimensions should not be classified under this system.

3. Very Small Objects may consist of any type of solid material.

4. Liquids and gasses may never be categorized as Very Small Objects.

5. Living things may not be classified under this system due to possible overlap with other existing classification systems.


Once you can correctly identify a Very Small Object as it is defined for the purposes of this system, you can begin the process of collecting.

Although it is not absolutely necessary, it is useful to assemble a collecting kit. A basic kit that you can assemble yourself should include forceps or tweezers, a writing implement, small transparent containers (glass or plastic vials, or plastic bags), a notepad, and a container for carrying these items.

Official Collier Classification System Collecting Kit , are available for purchase for $30 USD. Please send all inquiries about how to obtain one to:

The kit includes: an instructional booklet designed by Collier, a mechanical pencil, 20 small plastic bags, 20 adhesive labels, and forceps.
(contents pictured below)

Very Small Objects can be found anywhere and everywhere. If you look on the ground in front of you or reach into your pocket right now, you will likely find at least one Very Small Object. Due to the ubiquity of Very Small Objects, it is easy to compile a large and interesting collection in a very short time. Remember, living things cannot be classified using this system, so please do not collect them.

To collect a Very Small Object, carefully pick it up and place it in one of your small containers. Label the container in a clear manner, specifically noting the location where the specimen was found. Very Small Objects are often fragile; placing the small container into a larger box or bag will protect it from being crushed.


The naming of your Very Small Object can be done using the classification charts found on this website. Although the charts might seem intimidating in their complexity at first glance, closer investigation will reveal the relative ease of this system.

When you are ready to name your object, go to the classification charts and follow steps A through H to construct your new name. The finished name should be three separate words, each one constructed from the word fragments found in the charts. Print the charts for greatest mobility and ease of use.

You may encounter a Very Small Object that has qualities not adequately defined by any of the descriptions in the classification charts. If you encounter this situation, I welcome you to add a new descriptor word to the appropriate section. It is my hope, as the global collection of Very Small Objects increases, that the classification charts will evolve and expand to adequately describe this ever-present group of objects. If you find it necessary to add descriptions to the charts, or if you have other suggestions, kindly email updates for the master chart to me.


Once collected and named, Very Small Objects can be stored for further analysis or arranged in an aesthetically pleasing display. A display of Very Small Objects in your home can be a wonderful conversation piece, demonstrating your creativity and ability to organize your surroundings.

If you wish to contribute to the Master Collection, you can send your Very Small Object to me for processing. Go to the contact page for further instructions.