The Info List - Technical Specifications

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A SPECIFICATION often refers to a set of documented requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product, or service. A specification is often a type of technical standard .

There are different types of technical or engineering specifications (specs), and different usages of the term in different technical contexts. They often refer to particular documents, and/or particular information within them. The word specification is broadly defined as "to state explicitly or in detail" or "to be specific".

Using the term "specification," without a clear indication of what kind, is confusing and considered bad practice.

A REQUIREMENT SPECIFICATION is a documented requirement , or set of documented requirements, to be satisfied by a given material, design, product, service, etc. It is a common early part of engineering design and product development processes, in many fields.

A FUNCTIONAL SPECIFICATION is a kind of requirement specification, and may show functional block diagrams.

A DESIGN OR PRODUCT SPECIFICATION describes the features of the solutions for the Requirement Specification, referring to either a designed solution OR final produced solution. It is often used to guide fabrication/production. Sometimes the term specification is here used in connection with a data sheet (or spec sheet), which may be confusing. A data sheet describes the technical characteristics of an item or product, often published by a manufacturer to help people choose or use the products. A data sheet is not a technical specification in the sense of informing how to produce.

A "IN-SERVICE" or "MAINTAINED AS" SPECIFICATION, specifies the conditions of a system or object after years of operation, including the effects of wear and maintenance (configuration changes).

Specifications may also refer to TECHNICAL STANDARDS, which may be developed by any of various kinds of organizations, both public and private . Example organization types include a corporation , a consortium (a small group of corporations), a trade association (an industry-wide group of corporations), a national government (including its military , regulatory agencies , and national laboratories and institutes), a professional association (society), a purpose-made standards organization such as ISO , or vendor-neutral developed generic requirements. It is common for one organization to refer to (reference, call out, cite) the standards of another. Voluntary standards may become mandatory if adopted by a government or business contract.


* 1 Use * 2 Guidance and content * 3 Construction Specifications in North America * 4 Construction specifications in the UK * 5 Construction specifications in other countries * 6 Food
and drug specifications

* 7 Information technology

* 7.1 Specification need * 7.2 Formal specification * 7.3 Architectural specification * 7.4 Program specification * 7.5 Functional specification
Functional specification
* 7.6 Web service specification * 7.7 Document specification

* 8 See also * 9 Notes and references * 10 Further reading


In engineering , manufacturing , and business , it is vital for suppliers , purchasers, and users of materials, products, or services to understand and agree upon all requirements.

A specification may refer to a standard which is often referenced by a contract or procurement document, or an otherwise agreed upon set of requirements (though still often used in the singular). In any case, it provides the necessary details about the specific requirements.

Specifications (referring to standards) may be written by government agencies, standards organizations ( ASTM
, ISO , CEN , DoD , etc.), trade associations, corporations, and others.

A design/product specification does not necessarily prove a product to be correct or useful in every context. An item might be verified to comply with a specification or stamped with a specification number: This does not, by itself, indicate that the item is fit for other, non-validated uses. The people who use the item (engineers, trade unions, etc.) or specify the item (building codes, government, industry, etc.) have the responsibility to consider the choice of available specifications, specify the correct one, enforce compliance, and use the item correctly. Validation of suitability is necessary.


Sometimes a guide or a standard operating procedure is available to help write and format a good specification. A specification might include:

* Descriptive title, number, identifier , etc. of the specification * Date of last effective revision and revision designation * A logo or trademark to indicate the document copyright , ownership and origin * Table of Contents (TOC), if the document is long * Person, office, or agency responsible for questions on the specification, updates, and deviations. * The significance, scope or importance of the specification and its intended use. * Terminology
, definitions and abbreviations to clarify the meanings of the specification * Test methods for measuring all specified characteristics * Material requirements: physical, mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc. Targets and tolerances . * Acceptance testing
Acceptance testing
, including Performance testing requirements. Targets and tolerances . * Drawings , photographs , or technical illustrations * Workmanship * Certifications required. * Safety considerations and requirements * Environmental considerations and requirements * Quality control
Quality control
requirements, acceptance sampling , inspections, acceptance criteria * Person, office, or agency responsible for enforcement of the specification. * Completion and delivery. * Provisions for rejection, reinspection, rehearing, corrective measures * References and citations for which any instructions in the content maybe required to fulfill the traceability and clarity of the document * Signatures
of approval, if necessary * Change record to summarize the chronological development, revision and completion if the document is to be circulated internally * Annexes and Appendices that are expand details, add clarification, or offer options.


Specifications in North America form part of the contract documents that accompany and govern the construction of building and infrastructure projects. Specifications describe the quality and performance of building materials, using code citations and published standards, whereas the drawings or Building Information Model (BIM) illustrates quantity and location of materials. The guiding master document of names and numbers is the latest edition of MasterFormat . This is a consensus document that is jointly sponsored by two professional organizations: Construction Specifications Canada and Construction Specifications Institute based in the United States and updated every two years.

While there is a tendency to believe that "Specifications overrule Drawings" in the event of discrepancies between the text document and the drawings, the actual intent must be made explicit in the contract between the Owner and the Contractor. The standard AIA (American Institute of Architects) and EJCDC ( Engineering
Joint Contract Documents Committee) states that the drawings and specifications are complementary, together providing the information required for a complete facility. Many public agencies, such as the Naval Facilities Command (NAVFAC) state that the specifications overrule the drawings. This is based on the idea that words are easier for a jury (or mediator) to interpret than drawings in case of a dispute.

The standard listing of construction specifications falls into 50 Divisions , or broad categories of work types and work results involved in construction. The divisions are subdivided into sections, each one addressing a specific material type (concrete) or a work product (steel door) of the construction work. A specific material may be covered in several locations, depending on the work result: stainless steel (for example) can be covered as a sheet material used in Flashing and Sheet Metal in Division 07; it can be part of a finished product, such as a handrail, covered in Division 05; or it can be a component of building hardware, covered in Division 08. The original listing of specification divisions was based on the time sequence of construction, working from exterior to interior, and this logic is still somewhat followed as new materials and systems make their way into the construction process.

Each Section is subdivided into three distinct Parts: "General", "Products" and "Execution". The MasterFormat and Section Format system can be successfully applied to residential, commercial, civil, and industrial construction. Although many Architects
find the rather voluminous commercial style of specifications too lengthy for most residential projects and therefore either produce more abbreviated specifications of their own or use ArCHspec (which was specifically created for residential projects). Master specification systems are available from multiple vendors such as Arcom, Visispec, BSD, and Spectext. These systems were created to standardize language across the United States and are usually subscription based.

Specifications can be either "performance-based", whereby the specifier restricts the text to stating the performance that must be achieved by the completed work, "prescriptive" where the specifier states the specific criteria such as fabrication standards applicable to the item, or "proprietary" whereby the specifier indicates specific products, vendors and even contractors that are acceptable for each workscope. In addition, specifications can be "closed" with a specific list of products, or "open" allowing for substitutions made by the Contractor. Most construction specifications are a combination of performance-based and proprietrary types, naming acceptable manufacturers and products while also specifying certain standards and design criteria that must be met.

While North American specifications are usually restricted to broad descriptions of the work, European ones and Civil work can include actual work quantities, including such things as area of drywall to be built in square meters, like a bill of materials. This type of specification is a collaborative effort between a specwriter and a quantity surveyor . This approach is unusual in North America, where each bidder performs a quantity survey on the basis of both drawings and specifications. In many countries on the European continent, content that might be described as "specifications" in the United States are covered under the building code or municipal code. Civil and infrastructure work in the United States often includes a quantity breakdown of the work to be performed as well.

Although specifications are usually issued by the architect 's office, specification writing itself is undertaken by the architect and the various engineers or by specialist specification writers. Specification writing is often a distinct professional trade, with professional certifications such as "Certified Construction Specifier" (CCS) available through the Construction Specifications Institute and the Registered Specification Writer (RSW) through Construction Specifications Canada. Specification writers are either employees of or sub-contractors to architects, engineers, or construction management companies. Specification writers frequently meet with manufacturers of building materials who seek to have their products specified on upcoming construction projects so that contractors can include their products in the estimates leading to their proposals.

In February 2015, ArCHspec went live, from ArCH ( Architects
Creating Homes), a nationwide American professional society of Architects
whose purpose is to improve residential architecture. ArCHspec was created specifically for use by Licensed Architects
while designing SFR (Single Family Residential) architectural projects. Unlike the more commercial CSI (50+ division commercial specifications), ArCHspec utilizes the more recognizable 16 traditional Divisions, plus a Division 0 (Scope text-align:left;vertical-align:top;">

* Benchmarking
* requirements analysis * Change control * Guideline * Defense Standard * Design specification * Diagnostic design specification * Documentation
* Document management system * Formal specification * Functional specification
Functional specification

* Identification of medicinal products * List of ISO standards * List of Air Ministry specifications * Manufacturing
test requirement design specification * Open standard
Open standard
* Performance testing * Process specification * Product design specification * Publicly Available Specification * Revision control
Revision control

* Requirements analysis * Shop drawing * Specification and Description Language * Specification tree * Standardization
* Statistical interference
Statistical interference
* Systems engineering
Systems engineering
* Submittals (construction)
Submittals (construction)
* Technical documentation * Tolerance (engineering)
Tolerance (engineering)
* Verification and validation


* ^ Form and Style of Standards, ASTM
Blue Book (PDF). ASTM International . 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013. * ^ Form and Style of Standards, ASTM
Blue Book (PDF). ASTM International . 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013. * ^ Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly , The Elements of Technical Writing, pg. 108. New York : Macmillan Publishers , 1993. ISBN 0020130856 * ^ Stout, Peter. "Equipment Specification Writing Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2009. * ^ "A Guide to Writing Specifications" (pdf). Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved 8 November 2010. * ^ "Defense and Program-Unique Specifications Format and Content" (pdf). US Department of Defense. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 16 Sep 2010. * ^ International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
. "01.080.01: Graphical symbols in general". Retrieved 10 June 2009. * ^ International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
. "ISO 10209". Retrieved 10 June 2009. * ^ A B International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
. "ISO 832:1994 Information and documentation -- Bibliographic description and references -- Rules for the abbreviation of bibliographic terms". Retrieved 10 June 2009. * ^ ISO 690
ISO 690
* ^ International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
. "ISO 12615:2004 Bibliographic references and source identifiers for terminology work". Retrieved 10 June 2009. * ^ Title 21 CFR Part 11 * ^ A B IEEE
. "PDF Specification for IEEE
Xplore" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2009. * ^ Construction Specifications Institute * ^ CSC-dcc.ca/Certification * ^ Food
Standards Australia New Zealand . "Australia New Zealand Food
Standards Code". Archived from the original on 5 April 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008. * ^ Food
labeling regulations * ^ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
* ^ International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
. "ISO 14134:2006 Optics and optical instruments -- Specifications for astronomical telescopes". Retrieved 27 March 2009. * ^ International Organization for Standardization
International Organization for Standardization
. "ISO 15609:2004 Specification and qualification of welding procedures for metallic materials -- Welding procedure specification". Retrieved 27 March 2009. * ^ Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (October 2006). Guidance for Industry:Investigating Out-of-Specification (OOS) Test Results for Pharmaceutical