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Standards & Specifications: A How-To Guide

Citing Standards

The method of citing an industry standard varies based on the style manual required by a journal or discipline. There isn't a dedicated style guide solely for industry standards. Style manuals usually don't provide specific guidelines on citing standards, but they can be treated similarly to books, journals, or book series, depending on the context. The sole exception is when the standard is found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Federal standards in the CFR are considered legal references and adhere to legal style conventions.


When citing standards, ensure you provide enough information to allow others to locate the original document. Include information that indicates it is a standard, such as the issuing agency or publication name, standard number, and title. Most style guides also prefer the author to include a publication date if it is not evident from the standard number. Keep in mind that a particular standard can be reprinted, altered, or reissued by various standards organizations. It's important to cite the specific version you used.

Citation Examples

When citing standards and codes, follow the specific format depending on the citation style you are using.


In IEEE style, references are numbered in the order they appear in the text, and each reference is assigned a unique number enclosed in square brackets. The format for citing a standard is as follows:

For the in-text citation, when you refer to this standard, simply use the corresponding reference number in square brackets. [1]

Reference List:

[Reference Number] Standard number, Title of Standard, Publication date.

[1]  IEEE Std 754-2019, IEEE Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic (IEEE 754), Aug. 2019.


Excerpt from the 2021 IEEE SA Standards Style Manual:

Citing standards in a bibliography


For APA Style, in-text citations use the author-date format. If the standard has an individual author or organization as the author, include the author's name and the publication year in parentheses. If there is no individual author, use the name of the organization as the author. For the reference list entry, follow this general format:

In-text citation:

(Author or Organization, Year)

(American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 1989)

Reference list:

Author or Organization. (Year). Title of the Standard (Standard Number). Publisher. URL

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. (1989). Design and Installation of Nonreinforce Concrete Irrigation Pipe Systems (ANSI/ASAE S261.7 (R2020)). ASAE.[confid=s2000]&redirType=standards.asp&redirType=standards.asp