Extreme UV (EUV)-wavelength actinic microscopy yields detailed information about EUV mask patterns, architectures, defects, and the performance of defect repair strategies without the complications of photoresist imaging.To understand the pattern measurement limits of EUV mask microscopy, we investigate the effects of shot noise on aerial image linewidth measurements in the 22- and 16-nm lithography generations. Using a simple model we probe the influence of photon shot noise on measured, apparent line roughness, and find general flux density requirements independent of the specific EUV microscope configurations. Analysis reveals the trade-offs between photon energy density, effective pixel dimension on the CCD, and image log slope (ILS). We find that shot-noise-induced linewidth roughness (LWR) varies inversely with the square root of the photon energy density and is proportional to the magnification ratio. While high magnification is necessary for adequate spatial resolution, for a given flux density, higher magnification ratios have diminishing benefits. We find that to achieve an LWR (3σ) value of 5% of linewidth for dense, 88-nm mask features with a 2.52 normalized ILS value (image log-slope, ILS, equal to 28.6/μm) and 13.5-nm effective pixel width (1000 × magnification ratio), a peak photon flux of approximately 1400 photons/pixel per exposure is required.