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This guide assists users in selecting print and electronic resources that can be used to identify and locate standards.
Last Updated: Jun 11, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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What is a Standard?


According to the National Standards Policy Advisory Committee a standard is:

"A prescribed set of rules, conditions, or requirements concerning definitions of terms; classification of components; specification of materials, performance, or operations; delineation of procedures; or measurement of quantity and quality in describing materials, products, systems, services, or practices." [1]

Who uses standards?

Standards are used by producers and consumers of goods and services. Engineers generally need to consult the appropriate standards when creating new products, processes, or designs.

Why are standards necessary?

They specify how an item should be made by providing exact measurements and specifications about materials and processes. Standards are responsible for ensuring safety, reliability, quality, interchangeability of parts, and consistency of products and processes within and across national borders. Standards ensure that any brand of light bulb can fit a lamp or any brand appliance can be plugged into an electrical socket.

Who issues standards?

Standards are formulated by standard developing organizations (SDOs), which can be a government agency, trade association, professional society, international or regional organization, or a private company.
List of Acronyms of Standard Developing Organizations
[Index of Standard Developing Organizations]

What does a standard reference look like?

References to standards usually look like one of the following. Notice that all references generally contain the name of the issuing body and the standard number.

Standards are generally difficult to locate. Please ask Information Desk staff for help in tracking them down. It may be possible to locate some standards by looking in TRELLIS under either:

  • the title of standard : in the Author/Title/Subject index (sometimes)
  • the standards association : in the Author/Title/Subject index
  • a combination of all or part of the standard number (e.g., 75) with important words from the title of standard or the standards association : in the Combining Keywords index
  • the standards collection title : in the Author/Title/Subject index
  • a combination of important words from the standards collection title : in the Combining Keywords index

(From: Library Guide, No. 1.5 Finding References in the Library (Copyright University of Waterloo)

[1] National Policy on Standards for the United States and a Recommended Implementation Plan. National Standards Policy Advisory Committee, Washington, D.C., December, 1978, p.6.



This guide assists users in selecting print and electronic resources that can be used to identify and locate Standards.


EPSL Information



Interlibrary loan (ILL) Unfortunately, ILL is generally not available because most libraries do not circulate Standards.

If you can not find the Standard you need at the University of Maryland, you may want to try the Technical Reports and Standards Collection at the Library of Congress. Also see inquiry form.

Printing and Photocopying


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