This article is a detailed account of optical emission spectroscopy (OES) for elemental analysis. It begins with a discussion on the historical background of OES and development trends in OES methods. This is followed by a description of the general principles and optical systems of OES, along with various types of emission sources commonly used for OES. Some of the processes involved in calibration and quantification of OES for direct solids analysis by the ratio method are then described. The article ends with a discussion on the applications of each type of emission sources.