Abstract The profile of evaporated polycrystalline and amorphous films of various materials has been investigated as a function of condensation conditions: angle of vapour incidence, substrate temperature and residual gas pressure. In most cases at oblique vapour incidence films are shown to consist of needle-like formations or columnar crystallites. The crystallites are inclined to the substrate and the angle of inclination фo is defined by the condensation conditions. In oblique columnar structure formation the processes of surface self diffusion are important. Attention is given to the existence of needle-like formations in amorphous films of Ge, Si and GeTe.