Viscous energy loss in oscillating fluid-film dampers that provide frictional shear for laterally-driven planar microstructures is investigated. It is found that Stokes-type fluid motion models viscous damping more accurately than Couette-type flow field. This paper characterizes the damping property of a fluid layer in terms of viscous energy dissipation, then derives analytic damping formulae for practical Q estimation. Theoretical Q-factors are compared to the experimental values, measured from surface-micromachined polysilicon resonators. Data reported by previous investigators are also analyzed and compared. The experimental results indicate that the Stokes-type damping model presents a more general damping treatment with better Q estimation, although discrepancies of 10 to 20% still remain between the estimated and measured Q.