Maximum energy throughput, good image forming qualities, and low scattered light levels are all desirable in high performance optical systems. Mirrors need to have a good optical figure, high reflectance, and low scatter. Windows and other transmitting optics should have low intrinsic absorption, low surface absorption and scatter, minimum bulk scattering, and a good optical figure. Optical figure is usually readily evaluated, but microroughness and scratches and digs which affect optical scattering are more difficult to measure quantitatively. This paper presents a brief description of several optical characterization techniques which include methods for measuring surface microtopography, scattered light, absolute reflectance, change in reflectance with temperature, and optical absorption. In addition, an objective, nondestructive technique which can supplement or eliminate visual scratch/dig measurements is discussed.