One of the complaints people make about Public Health is that every public health professional seems to describe it in a different way when asked. This is necessarily so, to a degree. The Director of Public Health or a Consultant in Public Health in an inner city is likely to have a different set of priorities and problems than doing a job with the same title in a West Country rural population. We need people to understand that public health is a type of professional practice that is adaptive and is practised differently in different contexts. However the criticism has some substance too. If you were to ask twenty public health professionals to write down what they meant by ‘deprivation’ or ‘well being’ or the difference between ‘quality’ and ‘value’ then, at present, you would get very different results. Similarly if you were to ask people what the ten most important texts that they studied training you would get different results.