The utilization of near edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (NEXAFS) in achieving strong, novel contrast for soft x-ray microscopy and scattering methods has been afforded significant success in elucidating outstanding issues in organic materials systems due to the unique combination of high sensitivity to chemical functionality and thus composition, moderately high spatial resolution and moderate radiation damage. We illustrate the basic operating principles of NEXAFS spectroscopy, scanning transmission x-ray microscopy, and resonant soft x-ray scattering, and exemplify the impact by discussing a few recent applications. The focus of this perspective will be the characterization of synthetic organic materials, with a further emphasis on applications involving semi-conducting polymers. We also provide a brief perspective of future instrument and method developments.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(12)70068-8