This article is a brief review of dry etching as applied to pattern transfer, primarily in silicon technology. It focuses on concepts and topics for etching materials of interest in micromechanics. The basis of plasma-assisted etching, the main dry etching technique, is explained and plasma system configurations are described such as reactive ion etching (RIE). An important feature of RIE is its ability to achieve etch directionality. The mechanism behind this directionality and various plasma chemistries to fulfil this task will be explained. Multi-step plasma chemistries are found to be useful to etch, release and passivate micromechanical structures in one run successfully. Plasma etching is extremely sensitive to many variables, making etch results inconsistent and irreproducible. Therefore, important plasma parameters, mask materials and their influences will be treated. Moreover, RIE has its own specific problems, and solutions will be formulated. The result of an RIE process depends in a non-linear way on a great number of parameters. Therefore, a careful data acquisition is necessary. Also, plasma monitoring is needed for the determination of the etch end point for a given process. This review is ended with some promising current trends in plasma etching.