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International Color Standards, Part 2: Looking at Standards and their Meanings

(November 2007) posted on Mon Dec 03, 2007

Wading through all of the international standards for graphics printing can be a daunting task. Ruff's assessment of their purpose can help you better understand their value.

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By Mike Ruff

International standards exist to help individuals and companies in a vast number of industries improve the quality and consistency of their work. They also open up business opportunities on a global scale. Last month, we discussed the benefits of bringing your printing operations in line with international color standards. We’ll conclude our overview of international standards for color printing this month by checking out the many standards and specifications available to printers and highlighting the ones that are most applicable to us.


ISO standards for printing

The most well known standards organization in the world is ISO, based in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO creates standards for many manufacturing industries. A brief history of ISO standards is important in our understanding of and respect for this organization.

Even the name of the organization is standardized. The name ISO is not an acronym for International Standards Organization, but was derived from the Greek word isos, meaning equal. (The relationship to standards is that if two objects meet the same standard, they should be equal.) This name eliminates any confusion that could result from the translation of International Organization for Standardization into different languages, which would lead to different acronyms.

ISO is a voluntary organization. Its members are recognized standards authorities, each one representing one country. The bulk of the work of ISO is done by the 2700 technical committees, subcommittees, and working groups. Each committee and subcommittee is headed by a secretariat from one of the member organizations. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the United States representative to ISO. The ANSI ASC Z-1/ASQ Standards Group coordinates the United States representation in the ISO Technical Committees 176 and 207, which are concerned with the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 standards, respectively.


The ISO standardization process

Each member body that has an interest in the work of a committee is entitled to be a member of that committee. Standards are reached by consensus, with each member organization representing the interests of the vendors, manufacturers, consumers, professionals, and government of its country. Each standard goes through a six-stage process before being published as an ISO standard.

1. Proposal stage The first stage is the proposal stage, in which a need for a standard is determined and members are identified who are willing to work on it.


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