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Lichtenberger Engineering Library


All about Standards

What is a standard?

A standard is defined by the National Standards Policy Advisory Committee as:

"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."

Why are standards so expensive?

"Standards developing organizations rely on the revenues of the sale of standards to fund the standards writing process. This process can be lengthy and expensive. When you pay for a standard, you not only pay for the paper it is printed on, but for the cost of creating the information on the paper." (Standard LibGuide at the University of Washington Seattle)

Why are standards so important?

"They impact nearly every aspect of our lives - even the clothes we wear and the characteristics of our dogs are affected by standards. And standards enhance technology by ensuring that parts fit together. You could design a flash drive that doesn't fit into the standard USB port, but why would you? Who would buy it?" (Standard LibGuide at the University of Washington Seattle)

For more information about the importance of standards, please check:
For detailed & historical information on standards in the United States see:

Search for Standards

There are several places to search for the existence of standards. Some of our favorites include:
Find the website for a standards-producing organization: 

See a list of Standard Organizations and their websites.