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The National Bureau of Standards Office of Engineering and Information Processing Standards has circulated the draft of a Glossary of Terms for Product Standardization, Product Certification, and Laboratory Accreditation. Issue can be taken with some interpretations in this glossary, but it provides a good foundation on which to build.

A standard is defined as "a prescribed set of conditions and requirements, of general or broad application, established by authority or agreement, to be satisfied by a material, product, process, procedure, convention, test method; and/or the physical, functional, performance, or conformance characteristic thereof. Standards included under this definition are variously called product standards, engineering standards, or a 'paper' standard (described in a document). In international discussions the French term norme is equivalent to this definition of standard.

This paper goes on to discuss voluntary and mandatory standards.