Multivariate analyses are put in the context of more usual approaches to phycological investigations. The intuitive common-sense involved in methods of ordination, classification and discrimination are emphasised by simple geometric accounts which avoid jargon and matrix algebra. Warnings are given that artifacts result from technique abuses by the naive or over-enthusiastic. An analysis of a simple periphyton data set is presented as an example of the approach. Suggestions are made as to situations in phycological investigations, where the techniques could be appropriate. The discipline is reprimanded for its neglect of the multivariate approach.