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Standards and Codes

Introduction to standards and codes commonly used by professional engineers in their design and development projects.

Standards Databases and Catalogs

Standards Webstore Catalogs

Standards Journals

Selected Standards Journals

Selected Journal Collections

Codes Agency and Scope Notes


Codes are jurisdictional in nature, i.e. they only apply within the boundaries of the geopolitical boundaries governed by the government agency that adopted them. Note that jurisdictions can overlap and multiple codes can be in effect and exert significant influence over the project or product design. 

  • International - typically created by organizations and offered as model codes to simplify and standardize legal requirements at the national level around the world
  • National - typically fairly broad and represents the baseline benchmark for the country
  • Regional/state - must conform to the national limits, and can have stricter benchmarks as long as they don't exceed national requirements
  • Local/city - most limited in scale, must conform to national and state code requirements and can be even more exacting in limited cases

Code Identification and Acquisition Issues

Unlike standards, codes typically are not organized in databases or catalogs that are readily and easily searchable. Since the applicability of codes depends on the jurisdiction, most codes are found in the authorizing government agency's website. Since the ease-of-use for those websites varies significantly, finding the code requires some sleuthing. Look for menu options that refer to codes or rules and regulations since those are generally where these documents are stored.

Surprisingly, a search using a commercial search interface like Google or Bing provides useful results in some cases. At the very least, the results may point toward the relevant section of the agency website that may not be readily identifiable on the main page.

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