What's in this Guide
This guide will help you understand the purpose of industry standards and their role in engineering research. It will also suggest starting points for searching for standards and how to find them in the Libraries or elsewhere.
Finding standards can be complicated and confusing. There are thousands of standards from a mind-boggling array of sources. You'll encounter cryptic numbering systems and frequent changes. To see what we have in the Library search the UW Engineering Library standards database or click on Finding Standards to get help.
Please don't hesitate to contact an Engineering Librarian using the ASK US link at the top of this page if you have any questions about standards.
What are standards?
A standard is a document that establishes a rule or measure (either minimum or optimum) for quality or level of performance. A standard can be produced and/or adopted by national standards organizations, professional associations or societies, international standards organizations, or private companies. For even more about standards, read: "ANSI Course "Why Standards Matter".
Where do standards come from?
Professional associations (e.g. ASCE, ASME, IEEE, and SAE), trade organizations, and governments create and produce standards. Standards are produced nationally and internationally. In the United States, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) coordinates many standards producing organizations.
International standards are produced by organizations such as the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). Engineers frequently encounter standards from other countries such as Germany (DIN), Japan (JIS), or the UK (BSI).
How do I know which standard I need?
There are many search tools on the internet to assist you in locating standards in your area of study. Some of these are listed on the page "Search for Standards."
How do I get the full-text?
Here at the UW we have access to the online full-text of two major collections of standards: IEEE Standards, (UW Restricted ) and ASTM Standards, (UW Restricted). The rest of our standards are available in hard copy, primarily located in the Engineering Library.