An apparatus for enabling accurate retaining of a precise position, such as for reacquisition of a microscopic spot or feature having a size of 0.1 mm or less, on broad-area surfaces after non-in situ processing. The apparatus includes a sample and sample holder. The sample holder includes a base and three support posts. Two of the support posts interact with a cylindrical hole and a U-groove in the sample to establish location of one point on the sample and a line through the sample. Simultaneous contact of the third support post with the surface of the sample defines a plane through the sample. All points of the sample are therefore uniquely defined by the sample and sample holder. The position registration system of the current invention provides accuracy, as measured in x, y repeatability, of at least 140 .mu.m.