Date of Thesis



This thesis presents a metric for assessing the commonality and differentiation of packaging-family planning with application to medical labels along with supporting background research and findings. Consumable products such as medications rely on the package or label to represent the contents. Package confusion has been widely recognized as a major problem for both over-the-counter and pharmacy-dispensed medications with potentially lethal consequences. It is critical to identify a medication as a member of a product family and differentiate its contributing elements based on visual features on the package or label to avoid consumer confusion and reduce dispensing errors. Indices that indicate degrees of commonality and differentiation of features in consumer products such as batteries, light bulbs, handles, etc for platforms have been shown to benefit development of engineered product families [6]. It is possible to take a similar approach for visual features in packaging such as typography, shape/form, imagery and color to benefit packaging-family development. This thesis establishes a commonality differentiation index for prominence of visual features on over-the-counter and pharmacy-dispensed medications based on occurrence, size, and location of features. It provides a quantitative measure to assist package designers in evaluating alternatives to satisfy strategic goals and improve safety. The index is demonstrated with several medications that have been identified by the Institute for Safe Medication Practice as commonly confused.


Product Platforming, commonality, differentiation, packaging-family planning, labels

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Steven B. Shooter