Multichannel analysis of surface waves is a developing method widely used in shallow subsurface investigations. The field procedures and related parameters are very important for successful applications. Among these parameters, the source-receiver offset range is seldom discussed in theory and normally determined by empirical or semi-quantitative methods in current practice. This paper discusses the problem from a theoretical perspective. A formula for quantitatively evaluating a layered homogenous elastic model was developed. The analytical results based on simple models and experimental data demonstrate that the formula is correct for surface wave surveys for near-surface applications. ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.