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Tips on Searching for Standards

The following information should help guide you to find the standards document you seek.  

ICS codes

An ICS (International Classification of Standards) code is a hierarchical classification by subject assigned to almost all standards.  For example, 11 is the general area of Health Care Technology; 11.040 is medical equipment; 11.040.40 is surgical equipment.

Using this code, you can easily search for standards across many different standards collections. It is especially useful when search terms have a different spelling or meaning in different languages. For example, in English you would search for "tire", in UK-English the term is "tyre". Searching on the ICS code 83.160 will capture all variant spellings. The ICS Code Standard is free on the ISO website.

Standards identifiers

Standards documents are identified by a series of letters and numbers that can be mystifying. Each component has a meaning that will give you important information about the document, who issued it, and when.

Here are a few examples:

ASTM F963-08
ASTM = ASTM International, the standards developer responsible for this standard
F963 = The alphanumeric identifier for this standard
08 = this standard was approved in 2008

ANSI/ASSP Z244.1:2016(R2020)
ANSI = this standard was approved by ANSI; it is an American National Standard
ASSP = American Society for Safety Professionals (ASSP), the professional society that developed this standard
Z244.1 = The alphanumeric identifier for this standard
2016 = The year of approval
R2020 = The 2016 standard was reaffirmed as an American National Standard in 2020. No changes are made to a standard when it is reaffirmed or reapproved.

ISO/IEC 9798-1:2010
ISO/IEC = Joint Standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the standards developers responsible for this standard
9798 - The numeric identifier for this standard
-1 = Indicates there is more than one part to the standard (multiple documents) and this is Part 1
2010 = The year of approval

Why aren't all standards free?

Most standards developing organizations depend on the revenue from the sale of standards to support their programs and services. A growing number of standards organizations allow access to their standards for viewing or download for no cost.



  • Standards Coordination Office
    NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 2100
    Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2100
Created July 28, 2016, Updated April 25, 2023