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Standards: Home

A guide to standards at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Use the tabs above (Digital Collections, Finding Standards and Need a Standard We Don't Own?) to find specific information that will quickly assist you with your information needs.

Graphic image, Standards are everywhere!

Big Announcement!

About 85 percent of all ISO standards and many IEC standards have now been added to our ASTM Compass subscription.  So, give ASTM Compass a spin on your next design project!

What Are Standards and Why Do We Have Them?

A standard definition:  "a recognized unit of comparison by which  the correctness of others can be determined."  Another definition is "a set of characteristics or qualities that describes features of a product, process, or service."       

Why do we have standards? "[Standards] simplify product development, reduce unnecessary duplication, lower costs, increase productivity, promote safety, and permit interchangeability, compatibility, and interoperability. They help to advance scientific discovery, and keep people safe by minimizing injuries and protecting key environmental resources."  "They make modern conveniences possible: light bulbs fit into lamps, electronic files are transferred over the Internet, trains move between states because the tracks are the same gauge ..."

(ANSI's "An Introduction to Standards: Why, Where and How Are They Developed?")

Who Produces Standards?

Standards are produced by scientific and professional organizations, trade organizations, and governments, nationally and internationally.  In the United States, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) coordinates many standards developing organizations (SDOs).  ANSI is also the sole U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).  Here's a list of Standards Developing Organizations (U.S. System).

Additional Introductory Information


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Matt Marsteller
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Engineering Librarian