Write Your Standard

Writing a standard can be a daunting task. To help you out, here are some things to get you started.

Useful Tools and Information


Our templates are designed to meet our style requirements. Sometimes Working Groups want to use their own templates. Please don’t! Going rogue often creates unforeseen problems and slows down the production process. Templates and instructions for Microsoft Word® or Adobe FrameMaker® can be found on the Resources page. If you want to use something else, please contact us before you begin your work.

IEEE SA Style Manual

The IEEE SA Standards Style Manual establishes preferred style for the preparation of proposed IEEE standards (drafts) based on the IEEE SA Standards Board Operations Manual.

While it’s important to meet all editorial requirements set forth in the Style Manual, experience has shown a few concepts that might need a little extra attention.

Do you understand the difference between normative and informative?

Is this reference Normative or Informative?

Normative references are necessary for the implementation of the document.

A normative reference is a source that users of the standard must have on hand and understand in order to correctly implement the material contained in the draft. Normative references must also be cited within normative text. Additional guidelines for creating the normative reference clause can be found in the Style Manual.

Documents that serve as supplemental information, that are found useful when researching the material, and that are not needed for the implementation of the document are typically informative and therefore belong in an informative annex entitled Bibliography.

When applicable, Clause 2 of your draft should list references that are necessary for implementation of your standard. Normative references must also be cited within normative content in the body of your standard and must be easily attainable by users.

How do I format my references?

IEEE Std 1588TM-2008, IEEE Standard for a Precision Clock Synchronization Protocol for Networked Measurement and Control Systems.

Standard Draft:
IEEE P215TM/D4 (May 2018), IEEE Draft Standard for How Things Work.

Doe, J., John Doe’s Electron Handbook. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Journal Article:
Doe, John, and Ann Nonymous, “Path of the Modern Electron,” Electrolysis Monthly, April 2009.

www.electrons.com, (accessed May 11, 2011).

Are you borrowing material from other sources?

Generally, importing by reference is strongly preferred over duplicating content from previously published works. If, however, you must reproduce the content, please obtain copyright permission from the owner. Additional information can be found on the Copyright Policy page.

Are you using metric units in compliance with 9.16 of the IEEE Metric policy?

IEEE standards follow IEEE’s metric policy. Metric units shall be used to express measured and calculated values. Inch-pound units may be included in parentheses following the metric units if the standards committee believes that the users would benefit from inclusion of inch-pound data. Metric units shall always be the primary unit of measurement.

Here are a few formatting examples.

When expressing a quantity, a space should be left between the number and the unit symbol. An extensive list of symbols and their usage can be found in IEEE/ASTM SI 10.

Metric measurements should be listed first with English measurements following in parentheses, if applicable.

35 millimeters = 35 mm (1.38 in)
200 kilovolt amperes = 200 kVA
32 degrees Celsius = 32 °C (89.6 °F)

Percentages = 80%

Are you writing a standard? Recommended practice? Guide?

Standards have their own language and it’s important to be familiar with it. When you begin writing your draft, you will need to understand the meaning of the following verbs.

“Shall” indicates a mandatory requirement and is the preferred verb for standards.

“Should” indicates a recommendation and is the preferred verb for recommended practices.

“May” indicates a permissible action and is the preferred verb for guides.

“Can” indicates possibility and capability and is generally used in guides.

Please see Word usage in the Style Manual for more information.

What is the IEEE SA policy on commercial terms and conditions?

See the conditions set forth in 6.2 of the IEEE SA Standards Board Operations Manual.

What are the requirements for creating figure images?

Figures are an effective way to convey complex information. When creating figures, use these requirements.

  • Figure caption appears beneath the figure image
  • Figures should be clear and easy to read
  • Shall be provided as separate TIFF or EPS files with the final submittal package
  • Line art: 1200 dpi TIFF sized to no wider than 6 in
  • Photograph: 300 dpi EPS sized to no wider than 6 in
  • Borrowed figure images require copyright permission

Is "absolute verbiage" used in the document?

Avoid making guarantees if there is a possibility of unforeseen situations or circumstances altering the outcome.

When the document is ready for IEEE SA ballot, what’s next?

It is time for MEC review (Mandatory Editorial Coordination). Staff reviews the draft to help ensure conformance with the IEEE SA Style Manual and editorial requirements.

Insider Tip: We use this checklist as we review the draft. Use this form to submit your document for MEC.

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