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Engineering: Standards

About Standards

Standards are guidelines or rules for products, processes, test methods, and materials. They are created to produce uniformity, compatibility, interchangeability, interoperability, reliability, or a means of comparison.

Standards are developed by professional organizations, consortia, and governments. Adherence to standards is sometimes required by law, but often they are adopted by agreement by stakeholders (voluntary standards) who recognize the benefits of using standards such as reducing unnecessary duplication and simplifying product development.

Learn more about standards and standardization through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) website.

Standards Organizations

Standards organizations include:

International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an independent, non-governmental organization with a membership of 164 national standards bodies.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. government body tasked with "advancing measurement science, standards, and technology." Resources related to standards documentation are found at Other NIST resources include standard reference materials and standard data.

ASTM International, one of the largest standards development organizations. ASTM produces specification, test method, terminology, classification, guide, and practice standards.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private, non-profit organization focused on supporting voluntary standards and conformity assessment. ANSI is the U.S. representative to ISO.

IEEE Standards Association, a standards development organization focused on communications, energy, and electronics technology.

European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), bring together the national standards organizations of 34 countries to set common standards which apply across the European single market.

Finding Standards

The wide variety of standards, and the number of standards development organizations, can make it challenging to find and acquire standards.

Places to search include:

IHS Markit Standards Store - Can be used as an index for engineering specifications, standards, manuals, and publications from every major publisher.

Document Center - Search for standards citations by subject, industry sector, European regulation, or U.S. government federal supply class (FSC) code.

Getting standards:

Due to the cost of standards (and the limited use imposed on purchased standards), AU Libraries may not be able to acquire a requested standard, although we will certainly try. If the Libraries do not have access to the standard you need, please make an interlibrary loan request.

Scholes Library has a complete set of the 2018 ASTM Annual Book of Standards in print for reference. These volumes contain all 12,000+ standards published by ASTM as of 2018. To locate a specific standard, search by topic/keyword, title, or standard number at and note which Book of Standards volume it is in (e.x. 15.06).

Standards referenced in U.S. government rulemaking ("incorporated by reference") are made available to the public at no charge. The ANSI IBR Standards Portal provides access either directly through the portal or via the standards developing organization's website.

The Penn State University Libraries Standards resource guide has additional information and a number of useful links to standards organizations and other resources. Note that not all resources linked on the Penn State resource guide will be available for AU students.