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Entrepreneurship Resources: Technical Standards

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2024 12:13 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 for Entrepreneurs Infographic

Standards for Entrepreneurs Infographic

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.

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.

Freely Accessible Standards

Some standards are freely accessible to the public, or to students, specifically. Details on how to access select standards at no cost are provided below.

ANSI IBR Standards Portal - Standards Incorporated by Reference

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

Many standards developing organizations are included, however, please note, only selected standards (those which are incorporated by reference) are available to view. Some of the standards organizations included are, but are not limited to:

  • IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission)
  • ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
  • ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers)
  • ICC (International Code Council)
  • UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.)
  • HFES (the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society)
  • IES (Illuminating Engineering Society)

For additional access requirements and a full listing of standards, visit the ANSI IBR Portal page.

ASTM International Standards via the ASTM Reading Room

While UB currently has access to a free trial of the ASTM Compass database, mandatory ASTM standards (those called out in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)) are always freely accessible through the ASTM Reading Room.

Please be aware, standards cannot be downloaded or printed, but the full text can be read in the browser. Also important to note, is the most recent version (year) of the ASTM standard is not always the mandatory version. Only the version that is currently mandatory can be viewed through the ASTM Reading Room,.

Purchasing Standards

At some point, you may need to purchase a standard for your business or venture. There are many places to buy standards, so just a few are identified below. 

Full Text Access to Standards

More Standards Information

For more information on standards, please refer to the main Research Guide on Technical Standards using the link below. 

Citing Standards

If you are using a standard in your paper, presentation, scholarly publishing, etc., it needs to be cited, just like a book or article. There is no specific style manual for standards; instead, the style depends on the discipline or journal (or whatever citation style your professor states is required for an assignment). Complete references for a standard should include the title, document number, publication date, and the publisher. 

Guidelines are included below for citing standards in several popular citation style formats. When in doubt, always consult your Professor for which style they prefer for the assignment.

NOTE: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommends using the Chicago Manual of Style for citations. 

If you use EndNote to manage your citations, you can create new References within your EndNote Library for standards. Simply create a New Reference, then change the Reference Type to "Standard."

Basic Information to Include When Citing Standards

Make sure you provide enough information so that anyone interested in further information can track down the original document. 

  • Issuing Agency (or publication name)
  • Standard Number
  • Standard title
  • Publication Date
  • Specific Version
    • Standards can be reprinted, altered/reissued by a number of different standard organizations, withdrawn, etc.

Engineering Librarian

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