[sc34wg3] ISO style guide

Mason, James David (MXM) sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 25 Nov 2002 10:05:53 -0500

The general resource site for ISO standards writing is at

The style guide (and procedures for processing standards) are in the ISO/IEC

Part 2 of the Directives is the formula for standards:

As for details of language, it has always been the policy of this group to
use whatever version of English the writer is most comfortable with. Martin
uses U.K. English. I have always insisted that editors from the U.S. use
North American English (we had some trying to do the U.K. thing and doing it
poorly, so I stopped them).

Normative language in a standard usually is active voice, imperative mood:
"shall". "Should" implies conditional and thus is inappropriate for anything
that's required. In a standard, either something is required or it isn't.
While there may be options in a standard, each option should be written as a
self-sufficient thing, just as if it were a single statement.

James David Mason, Ph.D.

Y-12 National Security Complex
Bldg. 9113, M.S. 8208
P.O. Box 2009
Oak RIdge, TN 37831-8208 U.S.A.
+1 865 574 6973

Chairman, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34

-----Original Message-----
From: Sam Hunting [mailto:shunting@etopicality.com]
Sent: Sunday, November 24, 2002 10:52 AM
To: sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Subject: [sc34wg3] ISO style guide

Is there such a thing? 

I'm asking this question because of recent discussions on "should" and
"shall." It may be that the ISO uses these words in (perhaps subtly)
different ways than (say) W3C. If so, we should know, and a style guide
would tell us.

Also, during the course of drafting this version of the RM, Martin Bryan
made a series of extraordinarily helpful suggestions, based on his
knowledge of the usual (mandated?) structure for an ISO standard.

But it would be best to have this knowledge direct from the source, rther
than relying on individual voices and arcane lore.

If no electronic copy an an ISO style guide exists, but a printed one
does, could copies be made of it and distributed in Baltimore?

Sam Hunting
eTopicality, Inc.

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