International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 863–879 | Cite as

A standardized nomenclature for craniofacial and facial anthropometry

  • Jodi Caple
  • Carl N. Stephan
Method Paper


Standardized terms and methods have long been recognized as crucial to reduce measurement error and increase reliability in anthropometry. The successful prior use of craniometric landmarks makes extrapolation of these landmarks to the soft tissue context, as analogs, intuitive for forensic craniofacial analyses and facial photogrammetry. However, this extrapolation has not, so far, been systematic. Instead, varied nomenclature and definitions exist for facial landmarks, and photographic analyses are complicated by the generalization of 3D craniometric landmarks to the 2D face space where analogy is subsequently often lost, complicating anatomical assessments. For example, landmarks requiring palpation of the skull or the examination of the 3D surface typology are impossible to legitimately position; similar applies to median landmarks not visible in lateral photographs. To redress these issues without disposing of the craniometric framework that underpins many facial landmarks, we provide an updated and transparent nomenclature for facial description. This nomenclature maintains the original craniometric intent (and base abbreviations) but provides clear distinction of ill-defined (quasi) landmarks in photographic contexts, as produced when anatomical points are subjectively inferred from shape-from-shading information alone.


Forensic science Skull Face Skeletons Cephalometry Craniometry Corpulometry Capulometry 



The authors would like to thank Jiro Manabe and Rory Preisler from the University of Queensland for their assistance in compiling parts of the landmark lists and definitions from the literature.

Compliance with ethical standards

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study under #2015000108 from The University of Queensland’s Behavioural and Social Sciences Ethical Review Committee. Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in the article, namely photographs. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Laboratory for Human Craniofacial and Skeletal Identification (HuCS-ID Lab), School of Biomedical SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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