The use of surface topography for the assessment of scoliotic deformity in the clinic depends firstly on the quality of measures which reliably characterise deformity of the back, and secondly on the ease and speed with which these measures can be applied. A method of analysis of back shape measurements is presented which can be applied to any topographic measurement system. Measures presented are substantially independent of minor changes in the patient's posture in rotation and flexion from one clinic to the next, and yet sensitive enough to indicate significant improvement or degeneration of the disease. The presentation shows (1) horizontal cross-sections at ten levels up the back from sacrum to vertebra prominens, (2) angles of rotation of the surface over a small region about the spine, (3) three vertical profiles following the line of the spine, and (4) measures of maximum kyphosis and lordosis. Dependence on the operator has been reduced to a minimum. Extreme care in positioning the patient is unnecessary and those spinous processes which are easily palpable, the vertebra prominens and the two dimples over the posterior superior iliac spines are marked. Analysis proceeds entirely automatically once the basic shape data have been supplied. Applications of the technique to indirect moire topography and a television topographic measurement system are described.