An examination of coals, coal tars, a fulvic acid, and soil fractions by solid-state 13C NMR spectrometry has demonstrated widely differing behavior regarding quantitative representation in the spectrum. Spin counting experiments on coal tars and the fulvic acid show that almost all the sample carbon is observed in both solution and solid-state NMR spectra. Similar experiments on two coals (a lignite and a bituminous coal) show that most (70-97%) of the carbon is observed; however, when the lignite is ion exchanged with 3% (w/w) Fe3+, the fraction of carbon observed drops to below 10%. In additional experiments signal intensity from soil samples is enhanced by a simple dithionite treatment. This is illustrated by 13C, 27Al, and 29Si solid-state NMR experiments on soil fractions. ?? 1987 American Chemical Society.