Find Standards

COVID-19 Resources: Freely Available Standards COVID-19 

ASTM Compass - ASTM Digital Library covers a broad range of engineering disciplines including aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, environmental, geological, health and safety, industrial, materials science, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum, soil science, and solar engineering.

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IEEE Xplore - Provides full-text access to IEEE published standards

MADCAD - contains cross-referenced collections of building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire, and maintenance codes primarily from the United States, but some international resources also.

  • ES Lighting Handbook
  • A117.1 Accessibility Package
  • USGBC LEED v4 Reference Guides Package  
  • WILEY Graphic Standards Package
  • iCodes 2018

Print copies might also be available, try searching the Library Catalog 

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Standards access at MIT - access resources if you are also a current MIT community member 


  • National Information Standards Organization (NISO) - a non-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information in our changing and ever-more digital environment.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Incorporated by Reference (IBR) Portal  - provides a one-stop mechanism for 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.
  • NASA Technical Reports Server - NTRS 
  • ASSIST-Quick Search - search for defense and federal specifications and standards, military handbooks, and more.
  • Department of Energy Technical Standards Program - The DOE Technical Standards Program (TSP) promotes the use of voluntary consensus standards, manages and facilitates efforts to develop and maintain necessary technical standards, and communicates information on TSP activities.  
  • W3C - develops technical specifications and guidelines through a process designed to maximize consensus about the content of a technical report, to ensure high technical and editorial quality, and to earn endorsement by W3C and the broader community.
  • The Technical Reports and Standards Unit (TRS) of the Library of Congress holds over 5 million current and historical technical reports and standards on microform, digital media and paper.
  • Publicly Available Standards -in accordance with ISO/IEC JTC 1 and the ISO and IEC Councils, these International Standards are publicly available for Standardization purposes.

Commercial Providers

Why use Standards?

"A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose." - International Organization for Standardization (ISO)


Types of standards

  • Methods of manufacturing, designing, or drawing
  • Methods of testing, analyzing, appraising, verifying, or measuring 
  • Terms, abbreviations, symbols, marks, preferred numbers, or units 

Points to remember when using standards

  • Some standards are government-mandated, and others are voluntary.  There may be various penalties associated with not adhering to the standard. 
  • Standards are updated frequently to keep pace with changing technology - check to see if the standard you are using is the latest version. 
  • Older, superseded versions of standards may be useful in many cases, such as legal disputes concerning the performance of a product that was manufactured when the older standard was in force.  

Identifying Standards

Standards typically have a title and a report number associated with the organization that produced the standard, for example:

  • ASTM F1511 - Standard Specification for Mechanical Seals for Shipboard Pump Applications
  • IEEE 1708-2014 - Wearable Cuffless Blood Pressure Measuring Devices
  • MIL-DTL-641 - Jacks, Telephone General Specification for

Standards are created by a wide variety of organizations such as:

  • Professional societies (e.g. IEEE)
  • Industrial or manufacturing associations (e.g. American Wire Rope Manufacturers)
  • Governmental agencies or bodies (e.g. NIST)
  • Companies or non-profits (e.g. ANSI)
  • International bodies, such as the ASTM or ISO
    • Some countries also have national organizations 

Example standards

Learn more about standards