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How to Identify Minerals in 10 Steps


6 of 10

Step 6: Crystal Form and Mineral Habit
Typical shapes that minerals like

Crystal form requires study; mineral habit, not so much.

Photo (c) 2011 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
A good knowledge of crystals is very helpful once you're past the beginner stage, but often minerals do not display any crystal faces, so for simplicity's sake we'll ignore it. For beginners, a mineral's crystal form is less important than its cleavage (see the next step). When you're ready to learn this aspect of minerals, you'll want a book.

One thing even beginners can do, though, is to observe a mineral's habit, the general form it takes. There are more than 20 different terms describing habit—see most of them illustrated in the Mineral Habits Gallery.

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