Solid state NMR is a new analytical tool that has proven to be both powerful and versatile in the characterization of ceramic systems. In this paper, we review many of the recent applications of NMR in ceramics, with an emphasis on applied research. Since solid-state NMR is a relatively new approach, a brief introduction into the technique is provided. Examples are given to illustrate how NMR can be used to (1) identify both crystalline and amorphous phases, (2) quantitate both crystalline and amorphous phases, (3) determine the structure of both crystalline and amorphous phases, (4) probe local structural order and (5) study the chemistry of ceramic systems. These capabilities are demonstrated in a series of brief applications including (1) a study of structure in a new ceramic material (LaSi3N5), (2) accurate phase composition analyses on commercial Si3N4 powders, (3) determination of structure and curing mechanisms in amorphous SiC fibres, (4) investigation of dispersion aid mechanisms, (5) determination of structure in several SiAION ceramics and (6) identification and quantitation of phases typically associated with the grain boundaries of Y2O3 sintered Si3N4.