Abstract The development of PAL, a materials selection program, is reviewed in relation to the correct choice of an engineering adhesive. For this choice to be accurate, the requirements of the adherends, the production processes and the ultimate use of the bonded components need to be taken into account. It is shown that selection by means of a ‘rejection-residue’ process is an effective basis on which to construct an expert system and that quantitative, and frequently elusive, information does not have to be used. PAL's own form of fuzzy logic, which is illustrated, copes well with imprecision and allows extremely fast operation. The modus operandi of PAL is described together with its automatic presentation of important, though unsolicited, information.