Skip to Main Content

Technical Standards: Basic Information

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2023 11:15 AM

What are Standards?

"Think of [standards] as a formula that describes the best way of doing something."
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 

"Standards allow technology to work seamlessly and establish trust so that markets can operate smoothly. They:

  • provide a common language to measure and evaluate performance,
  • make interoperability of components made by different companies possible, and
  • protect consumers by ensuring safety, durability, and market equity.


Standards at UB

The University at Buffalo Libraries have a selected collection of standards and specifications. All ASTM, IEEE, and SAE standards are now accessible online (see databases in the sidebar to access), along with a few select standards available through the TechStreet platform. Some other standards are available in print. Use the tabs above to find U.S. and international standards here at UB, as well as information regarding government regulations and standards.

Please contact us first to see if we might have the standard you need here at UB or if it might be possible for us to secure a copy via Delivery+. If not, another option for you may be to directly purchase the item. The final tab, labeled "Obtaining Standards," provides further information on freely accessible standards, as well as details on how you can purchase a standard you need.

Word cloud with standards developing organizations

Why are Standards Important?

Standards provide people and organizations with a basis for mutual understanding and are used as tools to facilitate communication, measurement, commerce, and manufacturing.

Standards are everywhere and play an important role in the economy, by:

  • facilitating business interaction
  • enabling companies to comply with relevant laws and regulations
  • speeding up the introduction of innovative products to market 
  • providing interoperability between new and existing products, services, and processes.


Standards impact our every day lives.

Standards are important to businesses, governments, engineers, scientists, architects, designers, students, and more.

For more information, watch the video below from ISO on What Standards Do for You.

Another video, below, is from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology and illustrates how standards are important to technology and innovation.

Selected Books Related to Standards

Primer on Engineering Standards book cover art
Technical Standards book cover art
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO): global governance through voluntary consensus book cover art
Standards, Conformity Assessment, and Trade book cover art
The Engineering Standard, a Most Useful Tool book cover art
Open Standards and the Digital Age book cover art
Standardization Essentials book cover art

Full Text Access to Standards

Searching for Standards

To locate a standard, you should (ideally) know the following:

  • Acronym and name of the publishing organization
  • Standard number
  • Title of the standard
  • Date of the standard
  • Subject of the standard

To identify a standard on a particular topic (e.g., seat belts) or to verify a standard's date or number, use the following publicly accessible database:

  • TechStreet (a standards provider)
    Search 500,000+ standards and industry codes from around the world. This includes US standards like ASTM and ANSI, JIS Japanese standards, European standards such as BSI and EN, as well as international ISO standards. Standards can be purchased directly from TechStreet in PDF or print formats.
  • ANSI WebStore
    Search for ANSI, ASTM, ISO, IEC, and other standards publishers by keyword or document number. Be sure to re-set the search box to "KEYWORD" if searching that way. This will provide you with the acronym and name of the publishing organization (as well as a standard number and the title of the standard).

Other specialized indexes exist for military standards, federal standards, foreign national standards, etc. These indexes are identified and cited in the respective sections accessible through the tabs above. Links are provided to the web version of an index where one is available.

Engineering Librarian

Profile Photo
Erin Rowley
119 Lockwood Library
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260