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The content and layout of the Terms and Definitions section of an ISO standard, or of a separate standalone ISO glossary, are governed by well-established terminology management principles which are defined by ISO Technical Committee 37. These principles are outlined in this section. For more detailed information, refer to ISO 704: Terminology Work - Principles and methods.

Each entry describes one concept

The terms and definitions are organized into numbered clauses, each of which describes one and only one concept. Each clause, which is called an "entry", corresponds to one <termEntry>. If multiple terms are used for the same concept, this set of synonymous terms are all documented within the same entry, each within its own <tig> element.

If a term has multiple meanings, each meaning shall be documented in a separate entry. In this case, the entries will contain the same term. Normally, each entry would be restricted to a different subject field.

Choosing a preferred term

When more than one term is used for a concept (i.e., there are synonyms), one of the terms shall be chosen as the preferred term, and shall be marked as such by associating a <normativeAuthorization> element with this term. This preferred term shall be predominately used to refer to the concept in the body of the standard. The other terms may have a normativeAuthorization vaue, such as admittedTerm or deprecatedTerm if it is desired to indicate their usage, however this is not required.

Avoiding ambiguous terms

It is extremely important to avoid the use of ambiguous terms, not only in the Terms and Definitions section of a standard, but in the whole body of the standard itself. For instance, using the same term to designate different concepts is highly discouraged especially when these different usages are not differentiated by subject field. Ambiguity may also result when one or more of words in a multi-word term are dropped in an effort to be concise. For instance, shortening "class attribute" to simply "attribute" would result in ambiguity in a standard where attributes are associated with things other than classes.

Assigning a term type value

In the case of synonyms described above, often the synonyms correspond to abbrevations or spelling variants of a term, or even a representation of the concept in the form of a formula, symbol, or equation. In this case it is necessary to identify the "type" of term, by using the <termType> element.

Defining the term

Each entry requires a definition. The definition is extremely important and shall therefore be drafted very carefully. Definitions shall be drafted in accordance with ISO 704. Definitions shall only contain the essential information to describe the concept, and therefore shall not contain notes, examples, usage notes, or other extraneous information. Dedicated elements are available for each of these types of information. Definitions are normally expressed in a single sentence. If the definition describes a concept that is restricted to a specific area or application, use the <subjectField> element to specify the subject field.

If the definition originates from another standard, this source shall be added after the definition, in the <source> element.

Adding cross references

Cross references are used to point readers to the entries of terms that have a similar, related meaning. To add a cross reference, use <crossReference> for pointers to other entries in the same standard, and <externalCrossReference> to point to entries in other standards.

Cross references will appear after the words "Related term:", after the definition.

To hilight a term in a definition that is also defined in Section 3, use <entailedTerm> around the term, within the definition.

Referencing other sections of the standard

Sometimes it is useful to point the reader to another section of the standard, such as a table or figure, for additional information about the term and concept. For this purpose, use the element <see>.