Continuous flow chemistry is being used increasingly; however, without detailed knowledge of reaction engineering, it can be difficult to judge whether dispersion and mixing are important factors on reaction outcome. Understanding these effects can result in improved choices of reactor dimensions and give insight for reactor scale-up. We provide an overview of both dispersive and mixing effects in flow systems and present simple relationships for determining whether mixing or dispersion is important for a given flow system. These results are summarized in convenient charts to enable the experimentalist to identify conditions with potential mixing or dispersion problems. The information also expedites design changes, such as inclusion or changes of mixers and changes in reaction tube diameters. As a case study, application of the principles to a glycosylation reaction results in increased throughput and cleaner product profiles compared to previously reported results.