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 August 2005 Feature
Erin McElrone is an editor in the Publishing Services division at ASTM.

Emilie Whealen is an editor in the Publishing Services division at ASTM.

Preparing Standards Electronically for Ballot and Publication

ASTM International provides many electronic tools to help with the creation and revision of its standards. This article gives an overview of these tools, how you can apply them to your standards, and what to expect throughout the process of drafting, balloting, review and publication of your standards.

Work Item Registration

The first step in the standards development process is to register a work item. A work item allows members to identify new or revised actions in their areas of interest and to receive an e-mail alert when these actions are initiated. Simply log in to your My ASTM page using the red login box on ASTM’s homepage and follow the instructions provided. To register a new work item, click on the Create/Edit a Work Item link located on the far right of your My ASTM page. You will work on the left side of the page to submit your new item. If you have any problems with registration, there is a link to the ASTM help desk.

Form and Style for ASTM Standards

After you register your work item, you may want to review the Form and Style for ASTM Standards, formerly known as the “Blue Book.” A PDF version of the book is available on the ASTM Web site. To access the manual, click on the Technical Committees link to the left. Once there, click on the Key Documents & Forms link. The form and style manual will be the first choice.

There are eight parts to the manual. Parts A, B and C review the five types of ASTM standards (test methods, specifications, guides, practices, and classifications), providing definitions of each type and descriptions of mandatory, as well as non-mandatory, sections. Part D, “Use of the Modified Decimal Numbering System,” provides information about how to correctly organize your standard into numbered sections. Part E, “Terminology in ASTM Standards,” provides guidelines for writing definitions and the accepted format for a terminology standard. Part F, “Legal Aspects in Standards — Special Instructions,” includes information about caveats, patents, and trademark information, as well as ASTM’s position on sole sources of supply. Part G is the “Standards Style Manual.” This section contains information about the grammar and spelling preferred in ASTM standards, as well as forms for equations, references and abbreviations. Finally, Part H deals with the “Use of SI Units in ASTM Standards.” This section provides information on how to format your standard, whether it is inch-pound or SI (metric) dominant or combined.

ASTM Draft Standard Templates

After you have registered the new work item and reviewed the Form and Style for ASTM Standards, you can now concentrate on writing or revising your standard. ASTM provides templates to assist members when writing new standards. There is a template for each type of ASTM standard: test method, specification, practice, guide, classification and terminology. The templates can be downloaded from ASTM’s Web site. To access them, select Technical Committees from the links listed on the left side of the homepage, then Key Documents & Forms under the Committee Resources heading, and, finally, Draft Standard Templates.

Once you arrive at the Draft Standard Templates page, it is very important to read the download information before downloading the template you want. This page will supply you with detailed instructions for downloading using Internet Explorer or Netscape. This information is very important because downloading and saving the template correctly will ensure that all of the template’s features work properly.

Drafting a New Standard

The template’s unique features make it an easy tool for developing new standards in compliance with ASTM form and style. The first feature you will see upon opening your saved template is a pop-up window prompting you for the draft standard’s title, as well as the date, work item number, and main and subcommittee jurisdictions (Figure 1). After you enter this information and click OK, the information will be automatically inserted into the correct parts of your draft (for example, the committee designation and title will appear in Footnote 1).

Once you begin entering information, you will be able to take advantage of the other features of the template. There is a great auto-numbering feature that can help in numbering sections correctly. Pressing the Enter key will start a new, consecutively numbered paragraph within a section. The Tab key will start a subsection. If you have created a subsection in error (no more than four subsections are permitted), press and hold the Shift key and press the Tab button once until the desired section number is reached. You will notice that some section headings are black, while some are highlighted in red. The red color means that these are mandatory sections that must be filled in, while the black sections are optional (Figure 2).

Another feature of the template is a special ASTM toolbar that will appear along with your regular toolbars, which includes buttons that can assist as you write your standard. There are buttons to help you insert figures, tables, in-text tables, and equations, as well as some things that can be tricky to insert, such as subsets, supersets and symbols. Should you need to update or correct any information at a later time, there is an Update button that will bring up the original pop-up window. This button can be helpful if you need to make any changes or corrections to the title, committee jurisdictions, etc. If for some reason your ASTM toolbar does not appear upon opening a saved template, simply go to the top, select View, Toolbars, then ASTM Toolbar and it will appear (see Figures 2 and 3).

Information on the toolbar and other features of the templates can be found in the Draft Standard Templates section of the ASTM Web site, and can be used as a reference when composing your template. If you have any questions or comments regarding the templates and their features, contact Erin McElrone, ASTM editor.

Using Track Changes for Revisions

If you are working on the revision of a standard, the first step is to register it as a new work item, as previously described. ASTM will then send you a Microsoft Word document of the latest approved edition of the standard to be revised. Keep a copy of this standard as a reference while you are working on the revision to ensure that you always have a clean copy. Determine what sections are needed in the revision and copy and paste those sections into a new blank document.

Next, turn on the Track Changes function of Microsoft Word so that your voters and the editor can plainly see the additions or deletions you made. The Track Changes function will highlight all changes in red, underline new text, and strike through deleted text, so there is no need to use italics or bold letters to show changes. To turn on the Track Changes function, select Tools on the main toolbar, then Track Changes, and a dialogue box should appear. For the Track Changes feature to work properly, be sure all three boxes are checked. After you have done this, any additions or deletions that you make to your sections will be highlighted.

Inserting Tables and Figures in a Revision

Your revision or new standard may include new figures or tables. To add a new table, place your cursor at the end of your document and return to the ASTM toolbar. Click on the Insert Table icon and a dialogue box will appear that prompts you to choose the number of columns and rows needed. To navigate and enter text into the table, use your mouse or the arrow and/or tab keys. To insert a table caption, return to the main toolbar and select Insert, then Caption, and follow the instructions.

To insert a figure, place your cursor at the end of the document. Return to the ASTM toolbar and select the Insert Figure icon. Find the drive where your saved figure is located and click OK. The saved figure will appear in the document. To insert a caption, follow the same instructions for the table, but switch the label option to Figure.

Cover Letter and Submission for Ballot

Now that you have completed your revision or new standard, it is time to submit your standard for ballot. Your first step is to compose a ballot cover letter. The purpose of the letter is to clearly explain the changes in the proposed ballot item. Be sure to include the designation, draft number (if applicable), and your work item number.

You are now ready to submit the item for ballot. Return to your My ASTM page and select Submit an Item for Ballot. This time use the right-hand portion of the page and follow the instructions. Your item will be officially submitted for ballot.

Publication Process

After submitting an item for ballot, the publication process will continue as follows: You have submitted your standard, and it has been balloted. The item is sent to the voters and to your editor. While it is being voted on, the editor edits the standard in accordance with the balloted action. The editor will then send the edited document to the technical contact even if it has not yet been approved. The technical contact will then submit any changes or comments to the editor. After the items are approved and the technical contact has signed off, the standard will be published and posted on ASTM’s Web site (Figure 4).

Editor and Technical Contact Checklists

When editors work on a standard, they will do the following:

• Ensure that all balloted changes are made correctly;
• Update the titles of ASTM standards in the Referenced Documents section and verify that all of those standards are cited in the text;
• Ensure that sections and subsections, as well as tables and figures, are numbered and cited correctly;
• Check that section references and cross-references are correct;
• Confirm that the mandatory Keywords section is present;
• Correct grammar, misspelled words, and typographical errors;
• Review the standard and make sure that it conforms to the Form and Style for ASTM Standards format for supplier footnotes and trademarks; and
• Correct any layout issues to make sure that there are no large white spaces and that figures and tables are placed as close to their initial citation as possible.

After editing has been completed, the standard will be sent to the technical contact for his or her review. The technical contact should do the following when conducting the review:

• Ensure that the revised standard matches the balloted draft;
• Confirm that the Referenced Documents appearing in Section 2 of the standard are cited elsewhere in the standard;
• Provide keywords if needed (keywords are a few significant words from the title and scope of the standard that can be used for indexing purposes); and
• Respond to the review letter by the editor’s deadline. The usual review period is one week. If for any reason you need an extension, inform your editor and accommodations will be made.

Editorial and Technical Changes

During the review process, the technical contact may make changes that are editorial in nature. Editorial changes do not change the meaning or intent of the standard and therefore do not require balloting. Some examples of editorial changes are:

• Adding non-technical information for clarity;
• Updating Referenced Documents and footnote information;
• Adding keywords and changing titles of sections, tables and figures when justified by the text, and;
• Adding a Summary of Changes section without rationale.

The technical contact cannot request technical changes that can change the meaning or intent of the standard. Some examples of technical changes are:

• Adding, deleting or changing sections other than keywords or equations requirements and values;
• Changing mandatory language to non-mandatory language and vice versa; and
• Adding a Summary of Changes section with a rationale.


After the review process is complete and all changes have been submitted to your editor, the standard is ready to be published. The finished document should be available on the ASTM Web site within two weeks after the technical contact’s final approval.

We hope this article has provided you with a broader understanding of the various stages of the standards development and publication process, and an in-depth explanation of the many electronic tools that ASTM International provides to make the revision and development of new standards as easy as possible.

Do not hesitate to contact your editor with any questions that you may have during the review process. Your editor’s name is listed on your committee’s page on ASTM’s Web site under Support Staff. //

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