Questions & Answers on ASTM International Standards

    Q. What is an ASTM International standard?

    A. Standards are documents that serve to formalize procedures, rules, or guidelines for industry to follow. A document that has been developed and established within the consensus principles of ASTM International, and which meets the approval requirements of ASTM procedures and regulations, can become one of ASTM International's standards.

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    Q. Are all ASTM International standards similar?

    A. While all ASTM standards follow the same rigorous approval procedures and the format for ASTM standards is uniform, there are six different types of ASTM standards.

    1. Test method, n - a definitive procedure that produces a test result.
      Example - D 6183-00 (2005) Standard Test Method for Tackiness of Finish on Leather
    2. Specification, n - an explicit set of requirements to be satisfied by a material, product, system, or service.
      Example - D 6183-00 (2005) Standard Test Method for Tackiness of Fins a test result.
    3. Guide, n - information or series of options that does not recommend a specific course of action.
      Example - F 893-05 Standard Guide for Inspection of Amusement Rides and Devices
    4. Practice, n - a definitive set of instructions for performing one or more specific operations that does not produce a test result.
      Example - F 1468-04a Standard Practice for Evaluation of Metallic Weapons Detectors for Controlled Access Search and Screening
    5. Classification, n - a systematic arrangement or division of materials, products, systems, or services into groups based on similar characteristics such as origin, composition, properties, or use.
      Example - D 2000-05 Standard Classification System for Rubber Products in Automotive Applications
    6. Terminology, n - a document comprising definitions of terms; explanations of symbols, abbreviations, or acronyms.
      Example - F 1107-04 Standard Terminology Relating to Snowboarding

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    Q. How do I interpret the titles - or “designations” - of ASTM standards, all of which contain numbers and letters?

    A. The ASTM designation is a combination of a letter and number that is assigned by ASTM Headquarters when a standard is submitted for approval. This designation consists of a series of parts:

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    Q. In what formats are ASTM International standards published?

    A. ASTM International has 12,000 standards that are available for purchase in print, electronically from the web, and in CD ROM. All ASTM standards are issued annually in the 82 volumes of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards and all ASTM standards can be downloaded individually off of the ASTM website.

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    Q. Can I search ASTM International’s 12,000 standards?

    A. The Standards Search engine on the ASTM website enables viewers to search over 12,000 ASTM International standards by key word or standard designation. Your search will produce a summary of the ASTM standard containing: the standard's title, scope, adoptions, referenced documents, index terms, number of pages, and the price.

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    Q. What does an ASTM standard contain?

    A. The major sections of an ASTM standard are:

    Scope: Includes information relating to the purpose of the standard, and if the standard has any known limitations. This is the first section of most ASTM standards.

    Referenced Documents: Listing of all documents, ASTM and other, referenced within the other sections of the standard.

    Terminology: Contains significant words that may have a more specialized or restricted meaning within the standard, different than the term’s common definition.

    Significance and Use: Explains the relevance and meaning of the standard within the market, and how it is typically used. This section might also include cases in which the standard would not be applicable, or comparisons to other similar procedures.

    Apparatus: Brief description of the essential features of the apparatus and equipment required by the standard.

    Reagents: Includes reagents and materials required for each procedure within the standard. Each reagent should be named in full and followed by the exact chemical formula. This section includes any significant requirements for each material, such as the level of concentration desired, and preparation and standardization necessary.

    Procedure: Includes the proper sequence of detailed directions for performing procedures described in the standard.

    Calculation of Results: Includes directions for calculating the results of the standard, including any equations and required significant figures.

    Report: States the detailed information required in reporting the results of the standard.

    Precision and Bias: Provides validation for the standard and ensures that it can do what it describes. This statement allows potential users of the test method to assess, in general terms, its usefulness in proposed applications. The precision and bias section is mandatory for all ASTM test methods.

    Keywords: This section typically contains 4-8 words, terms, or phrases that best represent the technical information contained in the standard. These keywords are used in the ASTM subject index to assist users in locating standards.

    Annexes and Appendixes: These sections contain information that may be too lengthy for inclusion in the standard body, or supplemental. These sections appear at the end of the standard.

    * Annex: Contains mandatory information that is necessary for application of the standard.
    Examples - Glossary of terms used in the method, list of symbols, detailed description of apparatus, directions for calibrating apparatus.

    * Appendix: Contains nonmandatory information that is for information purposes and is not necessary for application of the standard.
    Examples - Development of equations used in calculations, suggested data form for recording test results, rationale used in the development of a test method.

    References: Includes references to publications that support or provide needed supplementary information. References are listed in an unnumbered section at the end of a standard in the order that they appear in the text.

    Footnotes: Intended only for reference, and never include instructions necessary for the application of a given standard. The first footnote of all ASTM standards contains committee jurisdiction and history. This includes the committee and subcommittee that maintains the standard, the approval date of the latest revision, the month and year of publication and the designation and year of original issue.

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