Standards information: Searching tips

Hints and tips for searching for standards

  • All standards have numbers - and if you know the number, then it's quickest to search for the number if you can.
  • Not all Standards Organisations use version numbers, you may need to check the year of publication to see if you have the latest version
  • When searching BSOL for British Standards if you see one with "TC" after the number - which means "tracks changes" (sometime referred to as "redlined") - you will be able to see what has changed from the previous version of the standard.  This shows you quickly what sections of a standard have been updated
  • If the standard you want is European or International, it's always worth checking if the British Standard Institute (BSI) have adopted it, as we are more likely to have access to them via our BSOL subscription.  Search for BS EN (for European) or BS ISO (for international) and then the number to check.  
  • If you aren't sure if there is a standard for what you want, you can always try browsing through standards by subject.  The International Classification for Standards - maintained by ISO - offers a series of subject headings you can look through.  For an example - see the BSOL browse by subject page.

Examples of standard numbers

There are a lot of abbreviations used in standard numbers.  A useful list of common ones and what they mean can be found on the BSI website. The beginning of standard numbers usually indicate the Standard Organisation who published it

  • BS -  A British Standard will start with BS.  You may also see BS EN or BS ISO - this indicates that the standard started out as a European (EN) or International (ISO) standard, and has now been adopted as a British Standard.
  • BS ISO 2789:2022 - TC - This standard is an ISO standard which has been adopted as a British Standard, published in 2022 and includes tracked changes so you can see what has changed from the previous edition
  • BS EN 14067-5:2021 - This standard is an European Standard which has been adopted as a British Standard and it comes in various "parts" (this being part 5). It was published in 2021.  Individual parts can have different years of publication.
  • PAS - If you see this in the standard number it means it is a Publicly Available Specification.  These are fast-tracked standardisation documents written in collaboration with Standards Organisations experts which define good practice for a product, service or process.  So if you can't find a main standard - have a look and see if a PAS is available.