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.
This guide will also discuss codes and regulations, how they relate to standards and where to find them.
Search the UW Engineering Library standards database to find out what we have in the Library.
What are standards?
A standard is "a recognized unit of comparison by which the correctness of others can be determined." Another definition is "a set of characteristics or qualities that describes features of a product, process, or service."For even more about standards, read: "ANSI Course "Why Standards Matter".
Who produces standards?
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?
Unfortunately the majority of standards are not available online (exceptions are the IEEE Standards, UW Restricted and the ASTM Standards, UW Restricted), however the Engineering Library has a large print collection and can help you get the standard you need.
Standards Are Complicated!
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.
Please don't hesitate to contact an Engineering Librarian, or click on ASK US at the top of this page if you have any questions about standards.
Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering
Aeronautics & Astronautics, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Chemical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering
Computer Science & Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering