Foto af: Ben Lodge

About standards

What is a standard?

Although there are more than 28,000 different standards, not everyone is aware of what a standard is and the advantages to be gained from using standards.

Everyone benefits from standards

In our everyday lives, we don’t often realize that there are standards everywhere – even though many of them have a major impact on us. Just imagine if the electric bulb didn't fit the lamp, the screw didn't fit the nut, the USB connector only fitted into some PCs – or if no one agreed on fundamental management and quality principles. It would not be very effective.

It can be said that standards are a lingua franca that helps us understand things in the same way. This means that we can be sure that what we collaborate on or buy from each other matches expectations – whether this is between businesses, authorities or consumers.

Standards can, for instance, set requirements for the performance of a product, or describe technical terms in a given area. Standards can also indicate methods for e.g. testing a product's durability.


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From the swing frame to the wing of a wind turbine

Standards are used widely, in small and large-scale production, in entirety and in detail, locally and globally. There are standards for everything, from the swing frame in the playground to the wing of the wind turbine. This ensures quality and safety for all of us. Ensures that the swing lasts and the wind turbine rotates. Standards make it easier for companies to produce, innovate, collaborate and trade with each other – even across borders, because there is agreement on basic guidelines, methods and constructions. And confidence in these. That is why standardization is also high on the political agenda. Because they create: best practice, market access, competitive power, confidence, internationalization, transparency, productivity, security and quality.


Standards in brief

Formal definition of a standard

Document that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results. The document is established by consensus and approved by a recognized body. The aim is the achievement of the optimal degree of order in a given context.

A standard can set requirements for

design, e.g. paper formats, threads, data formats
systems, e.g. quality management, risk analysis, environmental management
performance, e.g. strength and durability, safety, ergonomics, noise, radiation. 


Standards can also

identify symbols, e.g. a pictogramme showing that smoking is prohibited
describe the terminology in a field of expertise, e.g. the correct definition of an electrode 
indicate methods, e.g. for chemical analysis or testing.

Are standards mandatory

In general, using a standard is voluntary. However, there are some exceptions where you must comply with a standard. This is the case:

  • where a business advertises that a product or service meets the requirements of a given standard 
  • where it is stated in a contract or in a marking or labelling scheme that a product or service complies with one or more standards
  • where laws or directives prescribe that certain standards shall be followed.
How many standards are there?

Currently, there are 27,000 applicable standards in Denmark. Of these, 98 percent are international standards, and thus only 2 percent are national Danish standards.

Why standards cost money

When you buy a standard, you pay not only for paper and printing, or the preparation of the PDF file, but also for the many hours of work – typically over a period of 3 to 5 years – that have been invested before the final document can be published.