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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Engineering Standards: Introduction

This guide provides information on engineering standards as well as resources to access standards in print and online.

Introduction: What are Standards?

According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a standard can be defined as "a set of technical definitions, instructions, rules, guidelines, or characteristics set forth to provide consistent and comparable results, including:

  • Items manufactured uniformly, providing for interchangeability
  • Tests and analyses conducted reliably, minimizing the uncertainty of the results
  • Facilities designed and constructed for safe operation."

Engineering standards typically fall into three categories:

  • Limited consensus standards: developed by experts in a given organization and then made available to the organization for their guidance
  • General consensus standards: developed by experts to serve the need of a given industry; require substantial input from other interested parties
  • Governmental standards: produced by a wide range of governmental organizations and can be jurisdictional (legally enforced) or non-jurisdictional

A standard is typically represented by the acronym of the issuing organization followed by a number and date of issuance (e.g., ANSI B152.2-1982 or ISO 10096:1997). For help finding the name of a particular standard or whether a not a standard exists for a particular purpose, please visit the second tab of this guide. If you already know the name of the standard you wish to find, please visit the third tab for resources to locate standards.

Source: xkcd

General Resources

Understanding Engineering Standards [video] by Drexel University Libraries
Publication Date: 2020-07-28


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Subjects: Engineering