Cracking in thin films under the combined influence of residual stress and an external load is examined. An improved accuracy version of the existing solution for substrate cracking absent the external load is provided. A superposition scheme that uses the solution for substrate cracking and other existing published solutions is presented for the determination of the energy release rate. The superposition scheme is validated using finite element analysis, and conditions under which the superposition scheme is valid are discussed. Crack arrest is examined and two parameters that determine the possibility of crack arrest are identified. The influence of external loading on channelling behavior in the substrate is discussed.

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