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Standards: Home

Your guide to industry standards: what they are, who produces them, how to obtain copies.

Why standards?

Q: Why are standards important?


A: Standards play an important role in everyday life. They may establish size or shape or capacity of a product, process or system. They can specify performance of products or personnel. They also can define terms so that there is no misunderstanding among those using the standard.

As examples, standards help ensure that hoses fit on to spigots, that a light bulb fits a socket, and plugs for electrical appliances fit outlets throughout the U.S. With standards, our homes, workplaces and public buildings are safer from collapse, fire and explosion.


 From History of ASME Standards:

A: In 1884 ASME launched its first published standard, for the uniformity for testing methods of boilers. After that, the society turned its attention to pipes and pipe thread. Non-standardized pipe thread contributed to the Great Chicago Fire, the great Baltimore fire and others, as fire companies found their hose couplings wouldn’t fit hydrants outside their specific location.


Standards remind us to use a round peg in a round hole!

What are Standards?

  • Something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example; Something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality. (Merriam-Webster Online)

  • A technical standard is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices. (Wikipedia)

  • ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004 defines a standard as a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

  • The term "standard," or "technical standard" as cited in the NTTAA includes all of the following:

    • Common and repeated use of rules, conditions, guidelines or characteristics for products or related processes and production methods, and related management systems practices.
    • The definition of terms; classification of components; delineation of procedures; specification of dimensions, materials, performance, designs, or operations; measurement of quality and quantity in describing materials, processes, products, systems, services, or practices; test methods and sampling procedures; or descriptions of fit and measurements of size or strength.

For more info

Subject Guide

Types of Standards

Industry - developed by a particular industry to manage related products and services. May be developed through consensus.

Government - standards developed by any governmental organization for its own uses.

Legally-mandated - such as pharmaceuticals

How to Read and Teach Technical Standards

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