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NIST Technical Publication Policy (WERB)

All technical manuscripts with NIST authors or coauthors are subject to NIST policies, which include passing an internal review process and receiving approval by the Washington Editorial Review Board (WERB). NIST authors are not allowed to submit unapproved manuscripts for external publication.

NIST authors are responsible for informing their non-NIST collaborators of these policies, but a brief overview may be helpful, especially when manuscripts originate with the non-NIST authors.

NIST requires all scientific publications to be of high technical quality. In addition, NIST policy specifically addresses the following three elements:

Measurement Uncertainties

Measurement uncertainties must be stated in text, tables and graphs. Uncertainties should be explicitly identified as being standard uncertainties (standard deviations), expanded uncertainties (including "confidence" intervals) or other uncertainty measures deemed appropriate."Error" bars in graphs should be identified in the figure caption or text, or their absence should be explained ("error bars smaller than plot symbol,", "error bars not shown for readability, but commensurate with indicated scatter" etc.) The absence of uncertainties on computed results of measurements must be explained "results only approximate," "a quantitative uncertainty analysis was not performed because ..."

SI Units

NIST requires the use of International System of units (SI) for dimensioned physical quantities. Non-SI units may be used as secondary units, indicated parenthetically; e.g., "a pressure of 202.6 kPa (2.0 atm)." (Bear in mind, there are several definitions of the pressure unit, atmosphere, and of many other "traditional" units of various quantities.) Common practices with units do not override NIST SI policy.

An extensive description of SI and related issues (conversions, orthography, etc.) can be found in Publication SP811. If you cannot access this page, your NIST contact can help. 

The angstrom and the ev are permitted, although technically not SI units.

Brand Names

NIST has very stringent policies limiting the nature of research on commercial materials and on the use of commercial names in technical publications.

Outside of specific contractual work, NIST scientists are not allowed to engage in research that tests, evaluates or compares commercial products. Where contracts apply, results can only be reported to the contractor, unless the agreement states (or unless the NIST counsel rules) otherwise.

Any mention of brands and other commercial names in NIST publications, including manufacturers and suppliers, is strongly discouraged and must be disclaimed when included to inform readers of relevant sample preparation protocols, and measurement and analytical procedures. In almost all such cases, an initial mention of a brand name, manufacturer or supplier should suffice, with generic references made thereafter.

An acceptable disclaimer is:

"Certain commercial equipment, instruments, or materials (or suppliers, or software, ...) are identified in this paper to foster understanding. Such identification does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor does it imply that the materials or equipment identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose."

Variations of the wording are allowed, but the NIST counsel has ruled that all the elements of the basic disclaimer must be present. Also, the disclaimer must make sense in context. You cannot "disclaim away" deviations from NIST policy, such as testing or comparisons of commercial products. In research papers, the disclaimer may be included as a footnote or reference citation at the first mention of a commercial name (only one disclaimer is needed, generally). Some authors put it in or just below the acknowledgement paragraph. For other documents, such as reports and booklets, the disclaimer often is put on the cover facing page, title page, backing page or other prominent location.


Coded identity of commercial products must be used in tables and graphs (film A, film B, ...; not Fujitsu film, Sony film, ..). Whether or not the code key may be included in the text depends on Circumstances, particularly, on the extent to which readers may be led to rank results as being better or worse in such cases, only information concerning the availability of the code-key is allowed.


Commercial names may not appear in titles.


The ® symbol and the TM symbol should not be used in NIST technical publications. An ® signifies that a trademark is registered with the US Patent and Trademarks Office, but it is not part of the trademark (manufacturers' representations to the contrary not withstanding), and law does not require it to be affixed. TM is not a USPTO symbol but has long been used by trademark owners to indicate that USPTO registration is pending, a status without legal bearing. Many newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, do not permit the use of these symbols in news writing. Technical publishers generally have no policy on the matter, one way or the other. When ® is used (as in the exception directly below), the trademark owner should be identified.


Singular exception: SRM (Standard Reference Material) is a registered trademark of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and it may be so indicated in NIST publications, along with using SRM ® at the first appearance.


Please refer further questions to the NIST WERB Committee (inside firewall only)


Created September 28, 2017, Updated March 2, 2020