Which standard should we follow?

Published in January 2024, ISO 24183 defines terms for technical communication. However, some of these terms and definitions contradict IEC/IEEE 82079-1 standard. And technical writers are left with a dilemma.


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ISO 24183 "Technical communication - Terminology" was published in January 2024.

According to the announcement on the ISO website, ISO 24183 "defines terms for the theory and application of technical communication." When ISO 24183 was drafted, the recommendations of the ISO/IEC Guidelines Part 2 to use existing terminological entries from international standards were not always followed, in order to avoid unnecessary proliferation of terminological variants.

However, for some key technical communication terms, the terms and definitions in ISO 24183 contradict IEC/IEEE 82079-1:2019 "Preparation of instructions for use of products - Part 1: Principles and general requirements", which was jointly developed by ISO, IEC and IEEE. tekom’s standard committee scrutinized both standards. 

What are the major and minor discrepancies and inconsistencies highlighted by tekom Europe as they may impact technical communication compliance?

The greatest inconsistency is caused by differing definitions in ISO 24183 for the terms "information for use" and "information product".

ISO 24183 no longer links the term "information for use" to the concept of information for the safe, efficient and effective use of the respective product. This term is now limited to information in the information management process. Safe, efficient and effective use, on the other hand, is assigned to the term "information product". Neither "information for use" or "information product" is seen any longer as part of the product.

ISO 24183 also deviates from IEC/IEEE 82079-1 in key aspects of "skilled person", omitting the ability to recognize risks and avoid hazards in the definition of "skilled person".

Recommendation from tekom Europe

tekom Europe recommends that the terms should be based on the terms and definitions of IEC/IEEE 82079-1. IEC/IEEE 82079-1 has a broad user base and reflects the state of the art of the business and of the relevant terminology.

IEC/IEEE 82079-1 remains the leading and reference standard for technical communication, terms included. The terms in IEC/IEEE 82079-1 are valid, consistent and appropriate for practical application. These terms are also essential for the specifications made in IEC/IEEE 82079-1.

tekom will work on revising the terms in the current revision of IEC/IEEE 82079-1 Ed.2 where definitions are unclear or no longer correspond to the state of the art.

IEC/IEEE 82079-1 will be on the desk of every technical writer and communicator as a reference standard.

ISO 24183 should be revised according to the specific, coherent terminology of the technical communication sector.

The tekom Europe terminology platform in multiple languages can support the above-mentioned need for revision, as well as any revision and creation of standards dealing with technical communication and documentation.