The accurate calculation of characteristic peak intensity is essential for interpreting X-ray spectra in electron microprobe analysis. Conventionally, the measured intensity from a standard of known composition is used as a reference to simplify the calculation. However, if no such standard is available, then all factors influencing X-ray generation and X-ray detection efficiency must be included. If the intensity and energy distribution of the background radiation can also be calculated, the investigator can simulate an entire spectrum from an assumed composition, gaining powerful benefits in setting up an experiment and in confirming the results. The study presented here demonstrates a fast method of spectrum simulation, suitable for energydispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and assesses the accuracy using 309 spectra from samples of known composition. These include K, L, and M lines from elements of atomic number 6–92, excited by beam energies in the range of 5–30 keV. The RMS error between 360 measured and calculated peak intensities was found to be 7.1%. Central to the method is the use of the ratio of peak intensity/total background intensity, which allows spectra to be compared from instruments of differing collection efficiency, thereby easing the collection of data over a wide range of conditions.