To understand the very first steps of atmospheric particle formation and growth processes, information on the size where the atmospheric nucleation and cluster activation occurs, is crucially needed. The current understanding of the concentrations and dynamics of charged and neutral clusters and particles is based on theoretical predictions and experimental observations. This paper gives a standard operation procedure (SOP) for Neutral cluster and Air Ion Spectrometer (NAIS) measurements and data processing. With the NAIS data, we have improved the scientific understanding by (1) direct detection of freshly formed atmospheric clusters and particles, (2) linking experimental observations and theoretical framework to understand the formation and growth mechanisms of aerosol particles, and (3) parameterizing formation and growth mechanisms for atmospheric models. The SOP provides tools to harmonize the world-wide measurements of small clusters and nucleation mode particles and to verify consistent results measured by the NAIS users. The work is based on discussions and interactions between the NAIS users and the NAIS manufacturer.