I am currently writing my PhD thesis and several times I cite various ISO standards. I am unsure what the correct way to format the bibliography entry for such documents is.

Currently I am doing something like:

ISO (1997). ISO 4287 Geometrical Product Specifications (GPS) – Surface texture: Profile method – Terms, definitions and surface texture parameters.

I'm using an author-year style so the entries normally look like

Author (year) Title, Journal/publisher

Is there a better way to format this?

  • If you are using or plan to use APA Style, you might be interested in my answer to a related question. Oct 16 '15 at 19:17

check out this blog entry on Citing ISO Standards or this site on Bibliographic Citation Standards and Schemes As you can see there is no definitive answer to you question.

Maybe you ask your thesis advisor.


Depending on how a standard is published, it should be cited either as an article, a book, or a technical report.

  • If the standard is published as a journal article or has an associated journal article, e.g., then it should be cited as journal article. Example: the BioBricks Assembly Standard.

  • If the standard is published as a stand-alone book (e.g., being sold by a standards organization), then it should be cited as a book. Example: many ANSI or ISO standards.

  • If the standard is published through some other archival mechanism, then it should typically be cited as a technical report. Example: IETF standards.

How exactly you format such citations then depends on the citation style that you are being asked to use (e.g., MLA, IEEE, Harvard).


Using the C++ programming language as an example, one can find nearly every citation for the C++ standards in BibTeX format here:


For example, here is the reference to the ISO C++98 standard:

  author =       "{ISO}",
  title =        "{ISO\slash IEC 14882:1998}: {Programming} languages
                 --- {C++}",
  publisher =    pub-ISO,
  address =      pub-ISO:adr,
  pages =        "732",
  day =          "1",
  month =        sep,
  year =         "1998",
  ISBN =         "????",
  ISBN-13 =      "????",
  LCCN =         "????",
  bibdate =      "Tue Dec 12 06:45:55 2000",
  bibsource =    "http://www.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/bib/isostd.bib;
  note =         "Available in electronic form for online purchase at
                 \path=http://webstore.ansi.org/= and
  price =        "CHF 351, US\$18 (electronic), US\$252 (print);
  URL =          "http://webstore.ansi.org/ansidocstore/product.asp?sku=ISO%2FIEC+14882%2D1998;
  acknowledgement = ack-nhfb,
  xxISBN =       "none",

You can copy and paste this into your .bib file containing citations for LaTeX, which you should be using instead of Word anyway : ) You can use the natbib package to format it into whichever citation style you like.


You can cite it as follows:

Software engineering – Product quality – Part 4: Quality in use metrics. ISO/IEC TR 9126-4:2004(E), 2004.

Website for the same is: https://www.iso.org/standard/39752.html

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