The general approach to the problem of the real structure of smectites requires an analysis based on the relationship between structural characteristics and diffraction patterns. This paper, which considers only the models corresponding to dioctahedral smectites saturated by K-cations and collapsed, includes: 1. Successive consideration of all models which are crystallochemically possible. These models may differ in (i) the structure and chemical composition of layers and interlayer spaces; (ii) the azimuthal orientations, translations and the mode of alternation of the layers; (iii) independent parameters which describe quantitatively the models (e.g. abundance of each type of layer, probability parameters defining the succession of layers, …). 2. Calculation, in all accessible domains of reciprocal space, of the distribution of intensities and profile variations, obtained by changing only one parameter at a time, that defines one type of structural feature (e.g. cation distribution in individual layers, stacking of the layers, nature of stacking faults, …). 3. A systematical analysis of the calculated diffraction patterns to establish the diffraction criteria which will help to interpret the experimental data explicitly.