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Norms and Guidelines

A seemingly endless amount of norms and guidelines exist these days – but which of them are important for technical documentation?

Among other things, the EU sets guidelines, which must then be adopted into the laws of each member state. This is how, for example, the EU Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) was adopted into the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) in Germany.

Norms are intended to create standards and uniformity for products, procedures, services and in terminology. They reflect the current state of technology, but do not have any legal implication. The most important norm for technical documentation is DIN EN 82079-1, published by the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN) in 2013. This norm describes what is to be observed when compiling instruction manuals. Important aspects of the DIN EN 82079-1 outline how information is structured and how the content is edited and presented. Another norm that is important for technical documentation is ANSI Z535.6, which regulates the drafting and presentation of warning and safety notices.

There are also product norms, such as IEC 60601-1-6 for electrical equipment in the medical field. This also contains guidelines that are relevant to technical documentation.

Technical editors know both DIN EN 82079-1 and ANSI Z535.6 inside out. However, they constantly have to review any other product norms that are relevant to an order as well.

Norms also play a significant role in translation, the most important being DIN EN ISO 17100. It describes important aspects of the translation process, mentions the use of translation technology and translation tools and defines which qualifications a translator must have.

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