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Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy: Review

“For me context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything.” – Kenneth Noland, American painter

Context is the key to every situation and learning scenario that you encounter in your daily life, and ‘Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy’ is definitely a resource that provides this to your anatomy learning. To really understand anything, you need to box it inside a set of clear boundaries defined by at least some of the ‘7 W’s’ - ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘when?’, ‘why?’, ‘when?’, ‘where?’ and ‘how much?’.

Luckily, or unluckily, anatomy is no different. In fact, you can go one step further and say that learning anatomy cannot happen without conceptualizing, otherwise known as applying, the knowledge. It’s true, you can drill into your brain the position of a vessel, its branches, origin, drainage, and all such facts, but then what? What happens if that vessel gets cut or injured? How can that happen? How can you manage and treat problems affecting it? How can its anatomy vary from one individual to the next? You get the idea.

Unfortunately, many anatomy textbooks nowadays avoid clinical correlations altogether. Others include them, but you need a magnifying glass to find them, often lost within a sea of text. However, there is a gem that excels at putting anatomy in a clinical context through the use of its popular “blue boxes”. It is called ‘Clinically Oriented Anatomy’, more commonly known as ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’ by budding medical professionals.

  1. Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy: Seventh Edition
    1. Pros
    2. Cons
  2. Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy vs. Kenhub
  3. Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy vs. Essential Clinical Anatomy
  4. Summary
  5. Sources
+ Show all
Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy (cover)

This article will discuss this textbook and examine every nook, crack and cranny in order to let you form your own opinion on whether or not it truly lives up to its name.

Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy: Seventh Edition

Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’ has been explaining anatomy for a third of a century, ever since the first edition published in 1985. It has now reached the 7th edition, which is currently the latest one available on the market as of 2013.

Co-authored by Dr. Keith L. Moore, Arthur F. Dalley, and Anne M. R. Agur, this textbook has been one of the most popular choices for learning anatomy. If you look at the minds behind it, it’s not surprising. Dr. Moore alone has received numerous awards and reached excellence in human anatomy education. Also, do you remember embryology, the confusing subject dreaded by so many students - perhaps even yourself? Well, embryology is a branch of anatomy, so both subjects are often taught together. Dr. Moore also achieved excellence in embryology, so he is definitely every anatomy student’s dream teacher.


‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy: seventh edition’ is divided into ten chapters, or regions, as follows:

  • Introduction - Terminology, planes, relationships, movements, and systems
  • Chapter 1 - Thorax
  • Chapter 2 - Abdomen
  • Chapter 3 - Pelvis and perineum
  • Chapter 4 - Back
  • Chapter 5 - Lower limb
  • Chapter 6 - Upper limb
  • Chapter 7 - Head
  • Chapter 8 - Neck
  • Chapter 9 - Cranial nerves summary
Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy (contents)

In turn, each chapter is generally organized conceptually into sections and topics as given below:

  • Overview
  • Bones, joints, and ligaments
  • Walls, cavities, and fascias
  • Muscles and/or organs
  • Arteries, veins, and nerves
  • Lymphatics
  • Clinical boxes at the end of each topic

It is important to note that several sections, for instance the limbs, are firstly divided into regions, and only then they follow the above format.

Before diving into the nitty-gritty, you need to keep in mind that ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’ is a textbook rather than an atlas. Therefore, when you learn a topic for the first time, you should read the sections and chapters from start to finish in order to fully understand the material. After you become an anatomy whiz, you can take advantage of the index to jump between topics (or just tell your friends the page from memory - don’t worry, this subject will definitely make you reach that low point in your life).

Once you open the textbook, you can instantly recognize its appeal - the aim to simplify anatomy as much as possible. Through the use of tables outlining crucial information, effectively labelled and illustrated diagrams, clinical boxes, and ‘Bottom line’ summary boxes, ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’ will make you feel that you finally ‘get’ anatomy. The text and explanations are also easy to read, giving you sufficient details to understand without cluttering you with unnecessary details. Essentially, the textbook makes your learning enjoyably boring (remember, it is anatomy after all).


What versions of this textbook can you find on the market? Similar to the majority of academic textbooks, ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th edition’ is sold as either paperback and/or eBook. The price ranges considerably, anywhere from approximately $47 USD to $98 USD for the thick and heavy paperback, and from around $77 USD to $98 USD for the portable eBook format. These values depend on the status of the textbook and on discount availability.


‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th edition’ doesn’t come empty handed, but it is rather accompanied by online access to case studies and board review-style questions. Therefore, in addition to the standard, hypothetical clinical points presented throughout the book, the case studies will provide you with actual, real-life scenarios. In turn, the questions will help you review your knowledge, completing the circle of learning.


  • Clinical boxes - The famous ‘blue boxes’ that place the material in a clinical context. Some anatomy enthusiasts even buy this book strictly for those boxes and nothing else. Their beauty lies in the variation of clinical content, classifying the information provided as ‘anatomical variations’, ‘ trauma’, ‘diagnostic procedures’, ‘surgical procedures’, ‘pathology’, or ‘life cycle’. Take full advantage of these and see that what you’re learning is truly transposable to every day practice.
Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy (clinical boxes)
  • ‘The bottom line’ boxes - Despite a logic and friendly layout, this is an anatomy textbook which by definition means lots of words, long paragraphs, and small print. This can lead to two things - boredom and confusion. The summary boxes at the end of each topic will give you the bottom line of what you need to know, helping you save time and your sanity.
  • Tables - Anatomy students love information stripped down all the way to the bare-bones and the authors have taken full advantage of this. Presenting aspects like muscles, arteries, nerves and boundaries, they help you get through the banes of anatomy as efficiently as possible. Imagine having to memorize the fifteen branches of the maxillary artery from a paragraph squashed together...
  • Illustrations - ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th edition’ comes filled with all kinds of clearly labelled and vividly coloured illustrations. Although quite far from the likes of Netter, you can get by without constantly referring to an atlas when you read it. Also, there are several types of images such as anatomy illustrations, radiological, clinical, and cross-sectional views, meaning that no stone is left unturned for your learning.
  • Explanations and text - This is as simple as it sounds. This textbook provides you with sufficient details to understand the content without killing you with minutiae.
  • Online resources - Who doesn’t want even more clinical information and board-style review questions that cement your knowledge even further?


Generally not all is milk and honey and this is also the case with this book. ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’ has several drawbacks that you should take into account:

  • Price - While used versions and discounts certainly reduce its price, you will have to dig quite deep to get your hands on a new version. Even the eBook version is not a whole lot cheaper, almost reaching the price of the paperback. Remember, this is not an atlas, but a textbook, meaning that information inside it changes constantly, often quite dramatically.
  • Access to resources - Do you know all those clinical cases and review questions offered online? They are just a dream if you don’t purchase the textbook itself, so you’re back to where you started.
  • Limited resources - While the book contains a variety of images, the focus is on anatomical illustrations. Also, a good portion of them are not detailed enough, the perspective is not ideal, or the zoom is too far out. They will get you by, but you need an atlas close to you to really understand where everything is in the diagrams. Similarly, radiological images are few and far between, while cross-sections are almost non-existent.
  • Board-style review questions - The ones that come with the textbook are clinically focused. Although a godsend for an anatomy expert and exam preparation, they can be quite daunting, or even discouraging, if you are less prepared. Anatomy learning needs to be taken one step at a time, starting with simple recognition or labelling quizzes which slowly increase in difficulty. Adaptability and spaced-repetition? Forget it in regards to these board style questions.
  • Big, thick, and heavy - If you think an anatomy atlas is big, think again. If you carry around ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’, you will definitely feel every one of those 1,168 pages dragging you down. It weighs around 2.5 kg and is approximately the size of an A4, so it is definitely a mood killer (or back breaker) in that sense.
  • Textbook - With the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, this is a textbook filled with words so it needs to be read in order to be understood. However, even if the pages and sections are arranged as logically as possible, it still becomes tiresome after a while. Take a look at the section about the muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg:
Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy: Muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg)

It looks doable when you are fresh and at the beginning of your reading session, but what about after a few hours or a day of reading? It sounds a lot easier to just hit the ‘Play’ button, sit back, and listen to a video tutorial, doesn’t it?

Kenhub: Muscles of the anterior and lateral compartment of the leg

Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy vs. Kenhub

As you can see, ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th edition’ comes in a mixed bag. It didn’t become one of the world’s most popular anatomy textbooks on empty promises. It definitely succeeds in simplifying this complicated subject as much as possible, but the book still has its limitations.

If you want to diversify your learning methods and prevent boredom, Kenhub is your go-to platform. After all, learning anatomy is a marathon, so you need to remain excited for quite a long time to succeed. Here’s how Kenhub can help you to achieve this, and how it compares with ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’:

Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy vs. Kenhub

Using Kenhub gives you more than one way to skin a cat and tackle anatomy. Through the integration of several teaching methods, you receive all the explanations and descriptions about your favourite anatomical structures. Are you tired of reading line, after line, after line? Simply select your desired video, hit ‘Play’ and absorb the information without ploughing through walls of text! Do you want to see a specific anatomical structure from multiple perspectives? Go and check out the atlas! Kenhub also has over several hundred articles that you can use for further clarifications, and quizzes to really cement your knowledge. By the way, you receive everything in one go, automatically adapted to work on all portable devices - so what are you waiting for?! Go and try it out now!

Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy vs. Essential Clinical Anatomy

When you searched for ‘Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy’, you have more than likely come across its younger sibling - ‘Essential Clinical Anatomy’. Colloquially referred to as ‘Big Moore’ and ‘Baby Moore’ respectively, both textbooks have been written by the same authors and are helping students with their anatomy studies worldwide.

Essential Clinical Anatomy (cover)

Generally speaking and also according to Prof. Simon H. Parson’s review, the balance of preference doesn’t lean towards either book, with quite a large number of learners also preferring ‘Essential Clinical Anatomy’. Here are the reason why this might be the case:

  • Thinner and lighter -  Compared to its older sibling, ‘Baby Moore’ only has 712 pages and consequently weighs a lot less. In other words, this can be translated as less text to read, less details and finishing faster. Who doesn’t like that?
  • Cheaper - With less information come cheaper prices. ‘Baby Moore’ retails anywhere between $16 USD and $78 USD approximately for the paperback version, depending on current discounts and the state of the book.
  • No ‘Bottom Line’ boxes - Eliminating bullet point summaries doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world, but shortening a book comes at a price.
  • Less clinical boxes - The number of clinical boxes at the end of each section in ‘Essential Clinical Anatomy’ has also been condensed. It’s up to you to decide if this is beneficial or not.
  • Medical imaging boxes - Instead of radiological images being dotted throughout the chapters and sections, ‘Baby Moore’ has fewer, with relevant ones being grouped together in a box at the end of each topic. It seems that organization won instead of quantity.

In the end the majority of learning resources do their job of teaching you anatomy, so it’s really up to you to decide which one fits your purpose, goals and funds. However, no textbook or platform is perfect so you need to weigh the pros and cons and pick one that will simplify your journey as much as possible.

© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

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