A series of graphitized carbon materials, produced by the pyrolysis of an anthracene-based coke at temperatures ranging from 1600 to 2900 °C, were studied by Raman microspectroscopy to assess the applicability of this technique to the particular case of polished carbon materials. The polishing process was shown to change significantly the first-order Raman spectra (D band intensity increase) and therefore to induce unacceptable errors in the characterization of the intrinsic structure of these materials. The deconvolution of Raman spectra, related to the unpolished graphitized carbons at varying temperatures, highlighted a linear relationship between the intensity ratio ID/IG and the G band width. Thus, as the latter appears to be insensitive to the polishing, we highly recommend using it for a reliable assessment of the intrinsic structural disorder of polished carbon materials. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.