Document Center Standards Update: Why the Revision History of Standards Is Important

Here at Document Center Inc. ( we want you to have as much information as we have in our offices when you order on the Internet. This is because we know how information prevents mistakes.

Here's an example of how the revision history of documents that we display on our website can help you spot mistakes before they occur.

Recently, a customer called to get a copy of ASTM-D3591-90. When we enter in an ASTM number into our system, we strip off the final two digits of the above example, because the -90 signifies the publication year. So we looked up ASTM-D3591 for the customer, noted that the document was a PVC (plastics) standard and that the current edition is 1997. However, we also noticed that the previous edition was 1977. There was NO 1990 release for this document.

A discrepancy like this is a red flag for our staff. It means that there may be a mistake in process, and always leads to a closer review of the item in question. In this case, the most likely problem is a typo (a human error!). We routinely get requests for documents where numbers have been transposed, letters have been read as numbers, and so on.

So when faced with a conflict in information on the ASTM-D3591, we had to ask what other document might the customer actually be looking for. The answer to the standards expert is quite evident, although most folks might not realize the problem. The 5 and the 9 in this number have most likely switched places from the correct standard reference, ASTM-D3951 (one of the most popular ASTM standards on commercial packaging).

In looking at the ASTM-D3951, the current edition is a 1998 edition, but previously the document was a 1995 edition and, yes, before that a 1990 edition. We alerted the customer to the probable mistake, he confirmed it with his staff and was able to avoid ordering a document they were unable to use.

You can see all this by using our website, Enter in ASTM-D3591 in the search area and you'll see the document the customer originally requested, and why we were concerned. Then enter in ASTM-D3951 and you'll see how we confirmed the correct document for the customer!

And if you have a discrepancy you need to have solved, call us. Our expert staff is always ready to help, and we love a good mystery as much as anyone.

Claudia Bach
Document Center Inc.
121 Industrial Road Suite 8
Belmont, CA 94002
Phone: 650-591-7600
Fax: 650-591-7617
General email:

Claudia Bach is President of Document Center, Inc., an information delivery service based in Belmont, CA. The company has complete collections of specifications and standards from both government sources and industry associations.

For more information on standards see Document Center's Home page Welcome to Document Center .