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Drafting IEC publications



24 Notes

24.1 Purpose or rationale

Notes are used for giving additional information intended to assist the understanding or use of the text of the document. The document shall be usable without the notes.

For rules on notes to figures, see 28.5.4.

For rules on notes to tables, see 29.5.1.


Notes to entry (in terminological entries) follow different rules from those for notes, see 16.5.9. Table 8 summarizes how to use notes and footnotes within documents.


Table 8 – Use of notes and footnotes within documents


Table 8 – Use of notes and footnotes within documents


24.2 Title

Notes do not have a title.


24.3 Numbering and subdivision

Within a given clause or subclause, notes shall be numbered sequentially. The numbering restarts at each new subdivision. A single note in a subdivision shall not be numbered.


24.4 Referencing

When notes are referred to, use for example, the following forms for references:

  • "an explanation is provided in 7.1, Note 2";
  • "see 8.6, Note 3".

24.5 Specific principles and rules

Notes shall not contain requirements (e.g. use of "shall", see Table 3 ) or any information considered indispensable for the use of the document, for example instructions (imperative mood), recommendations (e.g. use of "should", see Table 4 ) or permission (e.g. use of "may", see Table 5 ). Notes should be written as a statement of fact.


Table 8 summarizes how to use notes and footnotes within documents.


24.6 Examples



Correct example of the use of a note:


"Each label shall have a length of between 25 mm and 40 mm and a width of between 10 mm and 15 mm.


NOTE The size of the label was chosen so that it will fit most sizes of syringe without obscuring the graduation marks.



Incorrect examples of the use of a note:


NOTE In this context a part shall be regarded as a separate document …

"shall" constitutes a requirement

NOTE Alternatively, test at a load of …

"test" constitutes a requirement, expressed here in the form of an instruction using the imperative

NOTE Where a laboratory is part of a larger organization, the organizational arrangements should be such that departments having conflicting interests …

"should" constitutes a recommendation

NOTE Individuals may have more than one function …

"may" constitutes a permission