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Standards for Drawings and Documentation Symbols

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.


ISO, ANSI, ASME, AGMA and a host of other organizations have issued standards for the symbols to be used on drawings. IEEE has issued many electrical drawing standards, while ANSI and ASME address technical drawings. There are further standards for piping, process engineering and even technical abbreviations.

Electrical Drawing Standards

Electrical symbols are divided into connection and interconnection diagrams and schematic diagrams. Schematic symbols are used to represent different elements in a circuit drawing such as a generator or resistor. Interconnection symbols are use to denote the locations and types of outlets and lighting fixtures.

ANSI Y32.2 was the standard for electrical diagrams. ANSI Y14.15 is the standard for electrical interconnection diagrams. ANSI C6.1 gives the standard for terminal markings on electrical equipment. IEEE standard 280 / ANSI Y10.5 - letter symbols for quantities used in electrical engineering.

IEEE standard 315 is another standard for the symbols on electrical diagrams. IEEE 315 is the same document as ANSI standard Y32.2. IEEE standard 200, the same standard as ANSI Y32.16, was the standard for electronic part reference designations. This standard was replaced by ASME Y14.44.

Process Engineering and Process Control Symbols

British Standard 1646 is a standard for the symbolic representation for process measurement controls and instrumentation. DIN 19227 gives the list of graphical symbols used for process control engineering. ANSI/ISA-5.1 is a standard for instrumentation symbols. ASTM E2587-10 outlines the use of statistical process control charts.

Standard Symbols for Pipe Networks

DIN standard 2429 is the German standard for symbols that represent the function of pipe work components. DIN 85005-4 is the standard for air pipes and filling pipes on ships. British Standard 1553 or BS 1553 gave the graphical symbols for piping systems, such as those used on power plant drawings.

ASME Y32.2.3 is the American standard for the graphic symbols used to represent pipe fittings, valves and pipes on drawings. Created in 1949, ASME Y32.2.3 was reaffirmed in 1999 and is shared with ANSI as ANSI Y32.2.3. ASTM D2749-02 gives the standard symbols to denote the dimensions of plastic pipe fittings.

There are standards for the representation of items in drawings, including the abbreviations to be used.
There are standards for the representation of items in drawings, including the abbreviations to be used. | Source

Standards for Engineering Documentation

BS 308 was the original British standard for engineering drawing practices. BS 308 was replaced by BS 8888 in 2000, and it will eventually be replaced by the ISO standards for engineering and technical drawings.

Military standard or MIL-STD-15-1 was a standard for military and defense contractor drawings for drawing symbols. Military standards for drawings and documentation have been replaced by ASME standards. For example, ASME Y14.5 is the standard for dimensioning and tolerancing.

ISO, ASME and ANSI have all issued standards related to engineering drawings and technical documentation.
ISO, ASME and ANSI have all issued standards related to engineering drawings and technical documentation. | Source

Standard Abbreviations on Drawings and Technical Documents

IEEE 260 was the standard letter symbols for units of measurement, but it has been superseded by IEEE 260.1, updated in 2004. ANSI/ASME Y10.3M gives the standard symbols for mechanics and time-related phenomena; this standard replaced ANSI Y10.8.

ASTM standards covering the terminology related to a material includes the abbreviations to be used when referencing that material. ASTM D5538-07 includes both the terminology and the standard abbreviations used when discussing thermoplastic elastomers, plastics that can be melted down and reformed. ASTM B354-05 lists the terms and accepted abbreviations used when discussing un-insulated metallic conductors.

Related Standards

ANSI B74 gives the standard markings for identifying grinding wheels. ANSI/ASME B1.7M sets the standard nomenclature, definitions, and letter symbols for screw threads. ISO 12671, released in 2012, is a standard for the symbols used to represent thermally sprayed coatings on drawings. American Gear Manufacturers Association or AGMA standard 112.05 and AGMA 116.01 give the definitions and symbols used for identifying gears.


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