Abstract The interaction of keV electrons with solids was studied by considering electrons transmitted through thin films as well as electrons backscattering from semi-infinite solid targets. The elastic scattering cross-section was obtained from the Rutherford differential cross-section. The numerical coefficient in the atomic screening parameter and spin-relativistic correction factor were taken as variables. The inelastic scattering model was employed to simulate the energy loss using Gryzinski's semi-empirical expression and Gryzinski and Liljequist models to calculate the total inelastic scattering cross-section. The simulation results were found to be in good agreement with other simulations and experiments.