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Basics of Standards

A standard is a “document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides for 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.” - International Organization for Standardization (ISO)


A selection of products, such as a dry erase marker and a ladder, that list standards on their labels, e.g. ASTN D4236 for the marker and ANSI A14.1 for the ladder.

Image: Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Created by Margaret Phillips, Michael Fosmire, and Paul McPherson. 


Why do standards exist? Standards exist to ensure the safety, quality, accuracy, reliability, interoperability, efficiency, and security of various products, processes and services used in many different industries.

Who creates standards? Standards can be developed by companies, professional societies (e.g. ASME, IEEE), trade associations, government agencies, and any organization wishing to suggest a consistent way of doing something.

What is an example of a standard? Standards are used in many everyday products, such as a phone charger that is interchangable between products, e.g. USB-C chargers.

Are standards required by law? Some standards are required by law or federal regulation, and others are adopted by consensus.