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The application of microscopy in biomedical research has come a long way since Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovered unicellular organisms. Countless innovations have positioned light microscopy as a cornerstone of modern biology and a method of choice for connecting omics datasets to their biological and clinical correlates. Still, regardless of how convincing published imaging data looks, it does not always convey meaningful information about the conditions in which it was acquired, processed, and analyzed. Adequate record-keeping, reporting, and quality control are therefore essential to ensure experimental rigor and data fidelity, allow experiments to be reproducibly repeated, and promote the proper evaluation, interpretation, comparison, and re-use. To this end, microscopy images should be accompanied by complete descriptions detailing experimental procedures, biological samples, microscope hardware specifications, image acquisition parameters, and image analysis procedures, as well as metrics accounting for instrument performance and calibration. However, universal, community-accepted Microscopy Metadata standards and reporting specifications that would result in Findable Accessible Interoperable and Reproducible (FAIR) microscopy data have not yet been established. To understand this shortcoming and to propose a way forward, here we provide an overview of the nature of microscopy metadata and its importance for fostering data quality, reproducibility, scientific rigor, and sharing value in light microscopy. The proposal for tiered Microscopy Metadata Specifications that extend the OME Data Model put forth by the 4D Nucleome Initiative and by Bioimaging North America [1-3] as well as a suite of three complementary and interoperable tools are being developed to facilitate the process of image data documentation and are presented in related manuscripts [4-6].