This article reviews different methods used to perform quantitative X-ray microanalysis in the electron microscope and also demonstrates the urgency of measuring the fundamental parameters of X-ray generation for the development of accurate standardless quantitative methods. Using ratios of characteristic lines acquired on the same X-ray spectrum, it is shown that the Cliff and Lorimer K
factor can be used in a general correction method that is appropriate for all types of specimens and electron microscopes, providing that appropriate corrections are made for X-ray absorption, fluorescence, and indirect generation. Since the fundamental parameters appear in the K
factor, only the ratio of the ionization cross sections needs to be known, not their absolute values. In this regard, the measurement of ratios of the K
factor (or intensities at different beam energies of the same material with no change of beam spreading in the material) permits the validation for the best models to compute the ratio of ionization cross sections. It is shown, using this method, that the nonrelativistic Bethe equation, to compute ionization cross section, is very close to the equation of E. Casnati et al. (J Phys B
15, 155–167, 1982) and also to the equations proposed by D. Bote and F. Salvat (Phys Rev A
77, 042701, 2008) for the computation of the ratio of ionization cross sections. The method is extended to show that it could be used to determine the values of the Coster-Kronig transitions factors, an important fundamental parameter for the generation of L and M lines that is mostly known with poor accuracy. The detector efficiency can be measured with specimens where their intensities were measured with an energy dispersive spectrometer detector, the efficiency of which has been measured in an X-ray synchrotron (M. Alvisi et al., Microsc Microanal
12, 406–415, 2006). The spatial resolution should always be computed when performing quantitative X-ray microanalysis and the equations of R. Gauvin (Microsc Microanal
13(5), 354–357, 2007) for bulk materials and the one presented in this article for thin films should be used. The effects of X-rays generated by fast secondary electrons and by Auger electrons are reviewed, and their effect can be detrimental for the spatial resolution of materials involving low-energy X-ray lines, in certain specific conditions. Finally, quantitative X-ray microanalysis of heterogeneous materials is briefly reviewed.