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A guide to finding technical standards and specifications.

Finding Standards

The TMU Library has a small and incomplete paper collection of standards and specifications.

The majority of Standards are available online either through websites or by purchasing them from some of the agencies listed below.

Copyright laws apply to standards and the copying of entire standards is illegal without prior permission which is unlikely to be granted.


ANSI Standards International Standards (ASTM)
ASTM Standards ISO/IEC Standards (Publically Available Standards)
Building Codes (Canada, Federal) NISO Standards
Canadian Standards (CSA) Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods
US Government Federal Standards,  UL Standards


Searching for Standards

Standards are detailed instructions about how something is to be manufactured, managed, designed, or otherwise handled. The term "standard" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "specification," although a specification is usually limited to a certain application whereas a standard has broader, more universal application and often repetitive processes. Standards are usually written by an authoritative body such as a professional organization, a government agency, or a manufacturer. The IEEE, for example, publishes electronic and electrical engineering standards.

In order to locate a standard you should (ideally) have the following:

  • The name of the publishing organization (e.g., IEEE, SAE, ASME)
  • The standard number
  • The title
  • The date of the standard
  • The subject

There are indexes you can use to help you identify the standard or specification you need by either number or subject.

  • The National Standards Systems Network search can be used to find International, American, and other national standards.
  • Since the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopts many of the industry standards developed by such organizations as IEEE, checking their site online can be helpful in turning up references to relevant standards by keyword as well as by standard number.
  • Other specialized indexes exist for military standards, federal standards, foreign national standards, etc. These indexes are identified and cited in the other tabs of this guide. Links are provided in those cases where a web version of the index is available.

Requesting Standards

If you are interested in using a standard for a course please contact your subject librarian (or engineering librarian) with the following information to arrange for the standard to be available: Course Code, Course Name, Instructor, Number of Students, and Standard Code and Name. Where possible we will arrange for the standard to be made available electronically. 

If you need a standard for research purposes, please contact your subject librarian (or engineering librarian) with the following information: name of standard, course/research project/program information, your intuitional status, and standard name and standard code. Please ensure that significant lead time is available for these requests because standards will need to be located in print. 

Creative Commons License

This guide has been created by the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License unless otherwise marked.

Creative Commons Attribution License