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Searching for Industry Standards: Identify

Identifying Relevant Standards

This page has several links to resources that will help you find standards.  It also includes basic instruction on how to search.  Additional helpful background, including useful fields to search, is found the tab entitled Standards 101.

Where can I Find Standards?

Search across multiple standards organizations

The following search engines will help you identify which standards are relevant to your project.  Most direct you to a webstore for purchasing; students and faculty desiring free access should see the specific standards organization links below, or should go to the Access tab.

  • Commercial/Organization Aggregators (free to search)

Document Center StoreSAI Global InfoStoreTechstreet Standards StoreIHS Markit Standards StoreANSI webstore

  • Government Aggregators & Indexes

ASSIST government standard search engineUS General Services Administration Document SearchUS Code of Federal Regulations

  • General Purpose Search Engines

Compendex databaseGoogle search

Search a specific standards organization

The following search engines help you find standards that are specific to a single standards organization and, in some cases, its affiliates.  BYU purchases a subscription to some of these, and in those cases, standards are available free of charge to students and faculty. These search engines generally have a filter that allows you to see only what you have free access to.

ASTM standards searchASCE Digital LibraryIEEE standards collectionISO standards searchInternational building code and other international codesSAE digital libraryAIAA Standards Library

Search for Individually Purchased Standards in Library

BYU has purchased hard or soft copies of various standards and codes.  These can be found by searching for their title or alphanumeric designation from the Library Webpage.  Some of these standards are highlighted below:

ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code  ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code 

National Electrical Code 2020  NFPA 70 National Electrical Code 

 ANSI Z136.1 Safe Use of Lasers

  ASCE 7-22 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings

 ACI Concrete Codes

 AISC Seismic Design Manual

 Standard Specifications for Transportation Materials and Methods of Sampling and Testing (AASHTO)

What do I Look For?

Standards are created to control many aspects of products and processes but do not typically address every aspect.  Thus, when considering what aspects may be relevant to search for, consider general product classes but also look at key attributes, particularly those related to a need for

  1. interoperability (e.g., threadforms),
  2. repeatability (e.g., materials composition or testing), and
  3. safety.

Basic Search Strategies

Search Options

When searching for standards you can use techniques similar to those used when searching for scholarly works.  Specifically, you can search for:

  • a known item, such as a specific standard designation;
  • keywords used in standard titles and abstracts;
  • subjects, as identified in classification codes (see Standards 101); and
  • references to other standards.

Most standards search engines behave differently than Google, but can be much more efficient than Google in finding standards.  When you type in search words, Google will attempt to guess what will be of most interest to you based on your location, search history, etc.  Standards search engines will be more rigid in their internal search rules.  For example, the ANSI search engine ( treats dashes, forward slashes, etc, as literal search characters, where Google ignores such characters.  Also, variations in spelling (such as "tyre" vs "tire") are not generally accommodated in these search engines, where Google will attempt to capture these different forms. Thus, effective searching for standards may require using different search strategies.

Search Strategies

When searching for standards in a particular subject area (not a known item), a recommended strategy is as follows:

  1. Brainstorm words that describe the key features of the product or process you are searching for; keyword searching in google can be useful for identifying a starting point for identifying standards and their classification codes, or for broadening your search beyond the classification codes already found.
  2. Search the ICS classification system for the standards classification codes most closely describing the product or industry (see Standards 101 for more info);
    1. Look within the classification hierarchy for broader and narrower classification codes that may describe the product or industry equally well or better;
    2. Also, search the and NAICS Identification System for relevant industry codes; 
  3. Search for standards that are classified according to these codes.

Note that standards are often classified according to multiple classification codes.

Once a relevant standard is identified it is particularly effective to:

  • Review the classification codes assigned to it and use any of those codes that may be relevant to your subject area; and
  • Look for standards referenced by it.

If this feels like familiar territory, you are right!  These are very similar to the strategies used for searching scholarly works.


For more info

Several standards organizations provide helpful information for searching their content.  Check out the following: