Technical standard

A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and practices. In contrast, a custom, convention, company product, corporate standard, and so forth that becomes generally accepted and dominant is often called a de facto standard.

A technical standard may be developed privately or unilaterally, for example by a corporation, regulatory body, military, etc. Standards can also be developed by groups such as trade unions and trade associations. Standards organizations often have more diverse input and usually develop voluntary standards: these might become mandatory if adopted by a government (i.e., through legislation), business contract, etc.

The standardization process may be by edict or may involve the formal consensus[1] of technical experts.


The primary types of technical standards are:

  • A standard specification is an explicit set of requirements for an item, material, component, system or service. It is often used to formalize the technical aspects of a procurement agreement or contract.[2] For example, there may be a specification for a turbine blade for a jet engine that defines the exact material and performance requirements.
  • A standard test method describes a definitive procedure that produces a test result. It may involve making a careful personal observation or conducting a highly technical measurement. For example, a physical property of a material is often affected by the precise method of testing: any reference to the property should therefore reference the test method used.
  • A standard practice or procedure gives a set of instructions for performing operations or functions. For example, there are detailed standard operating procedures for operation of a nuclear power plant.[3]
  • A standard guide is general information or options that do not require a specific course of action.
  • A standard definition is formally established terminology.
  • Standard units, in physics and applied mathematics, are commonly accepted measurements of physical quantities.