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ME 386W- Engineering Design: The Methods

A guide for the Mechanical Engineering junior level writing course

About Standards

What are standards, specifications, and codes?

  • standard is an approved set of criteria defining the performance or design of a product or defining the process of constructing a product.

    A standard is usually represent by the acronym of the issuing organization followed by a number and the date of issuance.  Examples: 

    • ANSI B152.2-1982
    • ISO 10096:1997
    • IEC 60034-15:2009


  • specification is a set of conditions and/or requirements used primarily for procurement and manufacturing purposes.  Standards may be referenced or included in specifications.  
  • Codes are organized collections of mandatory standards that have been made into law by a governmental authority.

Who produces standards?
Scientific and  professional organizations (such as ASME, IEEE, etc), trade organizations, and governments create standards, both nationally as well as internationally. In the United States, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) coordinates many standards producing organizations.

How do I identify which standards I need?
There are many search tools on the internet to assist you in locating standards in your area of study; see the links below to search for standards.

Are standards protected by copyright?
Yes, under both US and International laws, a standard has copyright protection.  Each standard is considered to be a separate work of authorship, just as a book would be; the copyright owner is the issuing organization.  

Accessing Standards

What standards can I access through Cline Library?

This online library provides access to industry-leading standards and technical engineering information. Covers a broad range of engineering disciplines, including aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, environmental, geological, health and safety, industrial, materials science, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum, soil science, and solar engineering.

  • The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Incorporated by Reference (IBR) Portal 

This portal is a one-stop mechanism for access to standards that have been incorporated by reference in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These standards incorporated by the U.S. government in rulemakings are offered at no cost in “read only” format and are presented for online reading. There are no print or download options.

Standards available on the ANSI IBR Portal include those developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and other standards developing organizations (SDOs) that have signed a terms and conditions agreement with ANSI. To access the standards in PDF format, go to the link below. All users will be required to install the FileOpen plug-in and accept an online end user license agreement prior to accessing any standards.

In addition to the standards available directly through the portal, several SDOs are offering free access via their own website. 

This video by the Purdue Northwest Library will walk you through the basics of how to navigate ASTM Standards. 

Reference Data and Tables

Building Codes and Regulations

Journals and other publications of interest: