Pete’s Guide to Technology and Everything Else Pete’s Guide to Technology and Everything Else

Symbol Standards

Symbol Design and Testing

IEC 80416-1:2001—Basic principles for graphical symbols for use on equipment

Standard Collections of Symbols

AIGA/U.S. Depertment of Transportation Symbol Signs
U.S. National Park Service Map Symbols
IEC 60417—Graphical Symbols for Use on Equipment
ISO 2575—Road vehicles, Symbols for controls, indicators and tell-tales
ISO/TR 10488—Graphical symbols incorporating arrows
ISO 7001—Graphical symbols; Public information symbols
ISO 7010—Safety Colors and Safety Signs
ISO 20712—Water Safety signs and flags
IEC 60417—Graphical symbols for use on equipment
ISO 7000—Graphical symbols for use on equipment
ISO/IEC 9995—Keyboard layouts
ISO/IEC 11581—Software Icons
ISO/IEC 13251—Graphical symbols for office equipment
ISO/IEC 18035—Icons for multimedia applications
ISO/IEC 18036—Icons for Web browsers
ISO/IEC 24755—Icons for mobile phones

Must-Have List for Using and Designing Symbols

Symbol Sourcebook: An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols
Dreyfuss, Henry. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1984
Symbol Signs: The complete study of passenger/pedestrian-oriented symbols developed by The American Institute of Graphic Arts for the U.S. Department of Transportation
This book captures enough of the design and selection process that the AIGA and U.S. DOT went through in arriving at the final symbol list, that you can learn some of the key issues that are important. Things like different interpretations of shapes by different cultures, implications of a crossed knife and fork (prohibition), and the problems in designing airport arrival and departure symbols.
At $500 for the initial buy-in, and $150/year thereafter, this may seem a steep price, but it is an invaluable (if sometimes cumbersome) tool. This database contains the entire current set of ISO and IEC symbols for use on equipment, with most downloadable in at least PDF format.
Official Signs & Icons 2
For $250, this is perhaps the most comprehensive and accurate symbol clipart library around. It is the official distribution source for several symbol sets, although it provides no background information about what exactly each symbol is supposed to be used for. For that, you need the original source documents, such as the IEC and ISO standards.

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Related Info

Symbol Standards Bodies

ISO TC 145—Graphical Symbols
SC 1: Public Information Symbols (ISO 7001)
SC 2: Safety Colors & Signs (ISO 7010)
SC 3: Symbols for Use on Equipment (ISO 7000/IEC 60417)
ISO TC 159—Ergonomics
SC4: Ergonomics of human-system interaction
ISO/IEC JTC 1—Information Technology
SC 35: User Interfaces
SC 37: Biometrics
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