Warning Label Design and Analysis


Product Safety Warnings and Instructions

Drs. Miller and Lehto of Miller Engineering have written four books on the topics of designing and evaluating labels, warnings, instructions, owner’s manuals, and other types of product information. These books provide a framework for the following aspects of warning label design:

  • Designing on package, within package, and on-products labels, warnings and information
  • Designing warnings and instructions
  • Evaluating proposed product information
  • Reviewing and modifying existing product information
  • Developing programs for clients to evaluate warning effectiveness

In providing assistance in this area, the Miller Engineering staff draws upon the writings and collections of historical materials from Dr. Miller’s thirty years of experience. This, in addition to the fifteen years of forensic and research studies conducted by other senior staff at Miller Engineering, has resulted in an extensive historical library in the areas of human factors, ergonomics, product safety, occupational safety, machine guarding, government and consensus safety standards. And, of course, the four books on warnings which have been written by our staff and associates have resulted in a part of our library of approximately 1200 publications addressing warnings and instructions alone. Our library allows us to prepare both contemporary reports and state of the art analyses geared to a specific year a product was manufactured or sold. What does not exist in our library is researched and retrieved through our local and on-line access to the University of Michigan library system, as well as all of the customary Internet resources.

Our research and design activities have resulted in numerous publications on a great variety of engineering topics. An extensive list of publications, as well as some samples of our work products, can be found below.

How to Design Warnings

A number of models and numerous publications have been developed by Dr. Miller and Dr. Lehto to describe an orderly and reasonably rigorous methodology for researching, designing and testing warnings and other product information. Several of these appear in the following.

The first is the Linear Sequence Determining Warnings Adequacy (right). It comes from our first Warnings Book: (Lehto, M.R. and Miller, J.M. (1986). Warnings: Volume 1: Fundamentals, Design and Evaluation Methodologies. Ann Arbor, MI: Fuller Technical Publishing.)

A second model, which can be chosen, was developed and first presented at a Human Factors and Ergonomics meeting and is called the Product Information Development Model. (Miller, J.M., et. al. (1991). A Model for Developing and Evaluating Product Information. In Proceedings of the Human Factors Society 35th Annual Meeting (pp. 1063-1067). Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors Society.)

Warnings Books

Mark Lehto and Jim Miller have coauthored four books on the topic of warnings, instructions, and labeling.

Their first book, Warnings: Volume 1: Fundamentals, Design and Evaluation Methodologies, may have been the first scholarly book totally devoted to the topic of warnings. A complimentary searchable form of this book is available here.


Warnings and Safety Instructions: An Annotated Bibliography is in its fourth revision with 1200 references.

Books are available through Fuller Technical Publishing, 734-662-6822; FAX 734-747-9712.

Warning Label Project Examples

View Warning Label Project Examples

View a Technical Bulletin Regarding Warning Label Design