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Standards & Specifications: A How-To Guide

Learn how to search for, and locate, full text of industry standards with this how-to guide from the Iowa State University Library.

Citing Standards

How to cite an industry standard varies depending on the style manual required by each journal or discipline.There is no such thing as a separate style guide just for industry standards.  ANSI recommends using the Chicago Manual of Style for citations. Style manuals do not usually mention how to cite standards, specifically, but they should be treated similar to a book, journal, or book series depending on the situation. Chicago Manual of Style section 14:249 (on "Pamphlets and the Like") says that "[d]ata on author and publisher may not fit the normal pattern, but sufficient information should be given to identify the document." If a standard is published within a journal or other book series, cite it similar to a journal article or a book chapter.

Make sure you provide enough information that anyone interested in further information can track down the original document. Citations should include some clue that it is a standard, the issuing agency (or publication name), standard number, and standard title (at a minimum). Most style guides also prefer a publication date if it is not obvious from the standard number.

Note that a specific standard can be reprinted, altered/reissued by a number of different standards organizations- you need to cite the specific version that you used. For example, API Standard 2543 was also issued as ANSI Z11.172-1965 and ASTM D1086-1964. Some versions retain the original pagination and others have completely different pagination, so if you quote from a page in the standard the only way for someone to find that specific quoted data is with the version of the standard you used.

Examples of best practices in citations for industry standards:

British Standards Institution.Code of Practice for Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites - Part 2: Vibration. BS 5228-2:2009.

"Headlamp Design Guidelines for Mature Drivers," SAE J1606-1997, in SAE Ground Vehicle Lighting Standards Manual, 2002 edition, Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers, 2002, p. 104.

Information Technology - Programming Languages - Fortran. Draft International Standard ISO/IEC 1539-1:2010 (E). Accessed February 4, 2013.

Keyboarding Speed Tests (formerly known as 'Typing Speed Tests'). AS 2708-2001. Sydney, N.S.W.: Standards Australia International.

Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis. ANSI Standard K100.1-1974 (R1984).

Safety Standard for Portable Automotive Lifting Devices. ANSI/ASME PALD-2005. New York: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2006.

Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks. USA Standard, USAS B56.1-1969. New York: American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Accessed February 4, 2013.

Standard for Safety for Household Electric Storage Tank Water Heaters. ANSI/UL 174:1996. Northbrook, IL : Underwriters' Laboratories.

"Standard Specification for Ice Hockey Helmets,"ASTM F1045-07, in Annual Book of ASTM Standards, vol. 15.07. DOI:10.1520/F1045-07

Wind Turbines - Part 4: Design and Specification of Gearboxes. ISO 81400-4:2005. Geneva, Switzerland : ISO.

Other Citation Styles

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Kris Stacy-Bates
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Iowa State University

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