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Technical Standards: Basic Information

Last Updated: Apr 26, 2024 4:34 PM

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 has a growing collection of standards and specifications. All ASTM, IEEE, and SAE standards are now accessible online, as well as ASCE 7 (see databases listed on the right side of the screen to access). Other select standards are available through the Techstreet platform or through various ebook databases. 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.

If you are having trouble locating a standard you need, please contact the Engineering Librarian ( We may be able to point you to a freely accessible copy (see more information under the tab above labeled "Obtaining Standards") or we may possibly be able to purchase a copy. 

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

You can use standards databases to search for standards by keyword or topic (e.g., footwear). Techstreet and the ANSI Webstore are two popular options and have coverage of standards worldwide (although not ALL standards developing organizations are represented in these tools, they do have great range).

  • 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

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Erin Rowley
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