About ISO/TC46 (adapted from TC46 N2112)


In 1947, the same year that our parent, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), was born, a group of documentation experts met in Paris to discuss how to widen their activities and influence. These experts were mainly from Europe, and they sat on a number of existing documentation committees, including the International Federation of the National Standardization Associations (ISA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and the International Federation for Documentation (FID). In Paris, for five days from 26 to 30 April 1947, they discussed how they could come together within ISO to form what is now TC 46.

The Terms of Reference for TC 46, Documentation, and the program of work agreed at that first Paris meeting were "to prepare recommendations for:

The way for some of these proposals had been paved within Committee 46 established in 1937 in Berlin under the auspices of ISA, the International federation of national Standardization Associations, replaced 10 years after by ISO.

Given the date of that meeting, some of these projects were dealing with latest-state-of-the-art reproduction techniques.

Who were the founding members?

The main initiative seems to have come from the Netherlands, who had been closely connected with FID, and at the Paris meeting, the Secretariat of TC 46 was accepted by the Hoofcommissie voor Normalisation in Nederland (HCNN), the national body in the Netherlands responsible for standardization, and administered by the Nederlandsch Instituut voor Documentatie en Registratuur (NIDER), who held the Secretariat until 1964.

The delegates who attended the second meeting of TC 46, held in the Netherlands Patent Office in The Hague from 17 to 19 June 1948, were welcomed by the President of HCNN, Mr Donker Duyvis. He proposed, and the meeting accepted, the nomination of Dr N A J Voorhoeve, from the Netherlands, as Chairman of that meeting of TC 46.

Among the business carried out at the meeting was the creation of three subcommittees of TC 46, dealing with:

As well as France, hosts of the first meeting, and Netherlands, who, as mentioned above, were the first holders of the Secretariat, it is certain that another founding member was Czechoslovakia. We know this because one of their representatives on TC 46, Dr A Sev*ik, presented one of the first new work items to the Committee, Transliteration of Cyrillic Characters, and his name appears as a member of the subcommittee set up at the Hague meeting. The following National Standards Organizations were also founder P members of TC 46: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, India, Palestine, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

By 1950, they had been joined by the following new P members: Austria, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Union of South Africa, and the United States of America. To the active participants were added what are now known as O members: Australia, Chile, The People's Republic of China, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Uruguay, USSR, and (the then) Yugoslavia.

Other new members by 1953 were the Federal Republic of Germany, Pakistan and Spain.

In the early years of TC 46, the work program was handled by Ad Hoc Working Parties, and one Subcommittee, SC 1 (Documentary reproduction). The Secretariat of TC 46 serviced the Working Parties and France held the Secretariat of SC 1.

The program of work drawn up at the foundation meeting in Paris soon produced the first ISO Recommendation: ISO/R4 (International code for the abbreviation of titles of periodicals), which was published in March 1954 (the first ISO publication was produced in 1951). It remains valid today, in its revised form as ISO 4.

The 1960s

By 1963, production of Recommendations* had become the responsibility of:

  • SC 1 Documentary reproduction


  • WG 1 Bibliographical subjects
  • WG 2 Layout
  • WG 3 Transliteration.

In addition to ISO/R4, the following Recommendations produced by TC 46 had been published by 1963:

  • ISO/R8, 1954 Layout of periodicals (produced by WG 2)
  • ISO/R9, 1954 Transliteration of Cyrillic characters (WG 3)
  • ISO/R18, 1956 Short contents list of periodicals (WG 1)
  • ISO/R30, 1956 Bibliographic strip (WG 1)
  • ISO/R77, 1959 Bibliographic references. Essential and complementary elements (WG 1)
  • ISO/R169, 1960 Sizes of photocopies (on paper) readable without optical devices (SC 1)
  • ISO/R193, 1961 Microcopies on transparent bases: recommended bases. Dimensions (SC 1)
  • ISO/R214, 1961 Abstracts and synopses (WG 1)
  • ISO/R215, 1961 Presentation of contributions to periodicals (WG 1)
  • ISO/R218, 1961 Reduction ratio of 35-mm microfilms for international exchange of documents (SC 1)
  • ISO/R233, 1961 Transliteration of Arabic (WG 3)
  • ISO/R259, 1962 Transliteration of Hebrew (WG 3)
  • ISO/R260, 1962 Terminology of microcopies and their bases (SC 1)

* From 1980, all "Recommendations" became "Standards" and the "R" prefix was finally dropped.

There were also a further three draft ISO Recommendations being considered.

After the death of Miss van Wiechen of NIDER shortly after the Budapest Plenary of 1964, there was a two-year period with no Secretariat until it was taken by Deutscher Normenausschuss (DNA).

In 1966, Singapore and the United Arab Republic joined TC 46 as O-members, to make a total of 22 P-members and 17 O-members. The programme of work included revisions of two early Recommendations: ISO/R4 (Abbreviations for titles of periodicals), and ISO/R9 (Transliteration of Cyrillic characters).

In 1966, TC 46 was organized into two Subcommittees and two Working Groups:

  • SC 1 Documentary reproduction (Secretariat, AFNOR, France)
  • SC 2 Transliteration of written languages (Secretariat USASI, USA)


  • WG 1 Bibliographic analysis
  • WG 2 Layout

The 1970s

The operational structure of TC 46 expanded in the 1970s. By 1971, there were three Sub-Committees and four Working Groups, the Secretariat of each of which is shown after the title:

  • SC 1 Documentary reproduction (AFNOR, France)
  • SC 2 Conversion of written languages (ANSI, USA)
  • SC 4 Automation in documentation (SIS, Sweden) (previously WG 4)


  • WG 1 International Standard Book/Serial Numbering (BSI, United Kingdom)
  • WG 2 Representation and coding of country names (IGPAI, Portugal)
  • WG 3 Terminology of documentation (DNA, Federal Republic of Germany)
  • WG 5 Guidelines for thesauri (Leitstelle für Politische Dokumentation, Federal Republic of Germany)

By 1972, two other Working Groups had been created: WG 6, Bibliographic references, and WG 7, Presentation of publications.

At the Helsinki Plenary meeting in 1974, a change to the scope of TC 46 was suggested (but never formally agreed):

Standardization in the fields of information, documentation, librarianship and related information handling, including information systems and interchange networks as applied to those fields.

That proposal clearly indicates a change in emphasis of the work programme and perceived responsibilities at that time, even though it was never adopted.

At that Plenary, it was agreed to change WG 3 into SC 3.

By 1974, a total of 45 Recommendations had been produced by TC 46.

In 1975 the Deutscher Normenausschuss (DNA) became Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN).

The same year, WG 7 became SC 7. In 1977, a further Working Group was also created: WG 8, Compatibility standards for information networks, and WG 5 and WG 6 became SC 5 and SC 6, respectively. In 1978, SC 1 became a new entirely separate Technical Committee 171, Micrographics.

On 24 January 1977, the constituent meeting of TC 46 Steering Committee (which became Advisory Group) was held in Geneva. At that meeting, Rules of Procedure dealing with membership, working and voting procedure for a Steering Committee were drafted.

At the 1979 Plenary Meeting, the role of this Steering Committee was further defined to assist the Secretariat of ISO/TC 46 in applying the resolutions approved at the Plenary Meetings, “to achieve the least possible delay in the work program of the various subcommittees and working groups, while respecting established priorities and to aid co-ordination between these subcommittees and groups whose Chairman or Secretaries take part in the meetings of the Steering Committee."

At that Plenary, WG 1 was reconstituted into SC 6 and its title/scope changed to Bibliographic data elements in manual and machine processing.

As a result of all this reorganization, by the end of the 1970s, TC 46 comprised:

  • SC 2 Conversion of written languages
  • SC 3 Terminology of documentation
  • SC 4 Automation in documentation
  • SC 5 Guidelines for thesauri
  • SC 6 Bibliographic data elements in manual and machine processing
  • SC 7 Presentation of publications


  • WG 2 Representation and coding of country names
  • WG 8 Compatibility standards for information networks.

Over 50 Recommendations had been produced by these Committees and Working Groups by the end of the 1970s.

To reflect the restructuring which had taken place in the 1970s, the Scope for TC 46 was revised. In October 1979, ISO Council approved the following:

Standardization of practices relating to libraries, documentation and information centres, indexing and abstracting services, archives, information science and publishing.

It could be concluded (although this might never have been intended) that this scope reflects a view of TC 46 as strongly oriented towards applications and related functional or performance standardization, rather than base systems or specifications. In other words, TC 46 has an emphasis on meeting user needs.

The Steering Committee met in Ohio, USA, in December 1979 and made a proposal that TC 46 should hold Plenary Meetings every two years.

The 1980s

There was now a large portfolio of published ISO Standards and other drafts for comments from TC 46, including, in 1984, the Third Edition of its first publication, the old ISO/R4.

The 1981 Plenary was the first ISO Meeting to be hosted by the People's Republic of China.

The Steering Committee changed to Advisory Group at the 1983 Plenary in Vienna. In 1985, SC 8 was set up to progress the work programme from Working Groups 8, 9, and 11, with its terms of reference given as "Standardization of the gathering of statistics needed for work in documentation". Its first Secretariat was awarded to United Kingdom (BSI). Within the structure of TC 46, a WG 10 “Establishment of indexes” also existed.

In 1986 Mrs Johanna Eggert retired and passed the TC 46 Secretariat to Mrs Eva-Maria Baxmann-Krafft. And Hans Jorn Reuss, from Dansk Standard, became the new Chair of SC 7.

The structure of TC 46 evolved at the end of 80s with the creation:

  • of SC 9 in 1987 which included the previous SC 5, SC 6, and SC 7. The Secretariat was taken by Canada, with Jane Thacker as the Secretary.
  • of SC 10 in 1988 for “Physical keeping of documents”, with Secretariat awarded to Denmark.

At the 1987 Plenary in Moscow, there was a change from Mrs Eggert to Ms Baxmann-Krafft as Secretary of TC 46, the new "Fast-track Procedure" was created within ISO to be applied to suitable future drafts.

The title of TC 46 from "Documentation" changed to "Information and Documentation".

Until 1989, the Chair of TC 46 had not been a permanent post, that was changed at the Washington Plenary when the appointment of Ms Verina Horsnell from the United Kingdom was approved. She served as the Chair until 2001.

The 1990s

Mrs Edith Lechner took over the TC Secretariat in 1993. The SC 4 Secretariat was transferred to ANSI (USA) with the appointment of Ms Sally McCallum as its Permanent Chair. She held the post until the end of 2005.

In 1998, TC 46 expanded its interest to the lifecycle and risk of the document in the enterprise. A new SC 11 “Records management” was created, with David Moldrich as the Chair and Standards Australia for the secretariat.

Since the 21th century, ….

In 2000, DIN decided to relinquish the TC 46 secretariat. The Internet and the global electronic/digital evolution of information and documentation changed the approach for many standards and opened new areas of structuring and new needs for the final users.

AFNOR took it over in May 2001 and invited the TC for a restructuring meeting in October 2001 in Paris. Only 4 sub-committees (SC4、SC8、SC9 and SC11) remained. 40 standards were considered as "stable", mainly for the paper form documentation, and placed under the responsibility of the TC 46 secretariat.

Other changes :

- SC 8 Chair and Secretariat changed from Sweden (SIS) to Germany (DIN), in 2004 ;

- SC 4 Chair and Secretariat changed from USA (ANSI/NISO) to New Zealand (SNZ) in 2005 and to Finland (SFS) in 2011;

- SC9 Chair and Secretariat changed from Canada to Republic of Korea () and USA (NISO) separately, in 2007, and

- SC10 reactive in 2013 and Chair and Secretariat are from Germany (DIN).