Interaction of anthropogenic particles with radiation and clouds plays an important role in Arctic climate change. The mixing state of aerosols is a key parameter to influence aerosol radiation and aerosol–cloud interactions. However, little is known of this parameter in the Arctic, preventing an accurate representation of this information in global models. Here we used transmission electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy, nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry, and atomic forces microscopy to determine the size and mixing state of individual sulfate and carbonaceous particles at 100 nm to 2 µm collected in the Svalbard Archipelago in summer. We found that 74 % by number of non-sea-salt sulfate particles were coated with organic matter (OM); 20 % of sulfate particles also had soot inclusions which only appeared in the OM coating. The OM coating is estimated to contribute 63 % of the particle volume on average. To understand how OM coating influences optical properties of sulfate particles, a Mie core–shell model was applied to calculate optical properties of individual sulfate particles. Our result shows that the absorption cross section of individual OM-coated particles significantly increased when assuming the OM coating as light-absorbing brown carbon. Microscopic observations here suggest that OM modulates the mixing structure of fine Arctic sulfate particles, which may determine their hygroscopicity and optical properties.