Map interpretation remains a critical step in solving the structure of a macromolecule. Errors introduced at this early stage may persist throughout crystallographic refinement and result in an incorrect structure. The normally quoted crystallographic residual is often a poor description for the quality of the model. Strategies and tools are described that help to alleviate this problem. These simplify the model-building process, quantify the goodness of fit of the model on a per-residue basis and locate possible errors in peptide and side-chain conformations.