The Energy Resources Program of the U.S. Geological Survey promotes and supports coal research to improve the understanding of the coal endowment of the United States. This results in geologically based, non-biased energy information products for policy and decision makers, land and resource managers, other federal and state agencies, the domestic energy industry, foreign governments, nongovernmental groups, academia, and other scientists. A more integrated approach to our coal quality work involves what we call a 'cradle to grave' approach. These types of studies focus not on just one aspect of the coal but rather on how or where different quality parameters form and (or) occur and what happens to them through the mining, production, transport, utilization and waste disposal process. An extensive suite of coal quality analyses, mineralogical, petrology, and leaching investigations are determined on samples taken from the different phases of the coal utilization process. This report consists of a tutorial that was given on June 10, 2007 at the 32nd International Technical Conference on Coal Utilization & Fuel Systems, The Power of Coal, Clearwater Coal Conference in Clearwater, Florida, USA. This tutorial covers how these studies are conducted and the importance of providing improved, comprehensive, science-based data sets for policy and decision makers.