I had this question popping out while viewing some ISO standards such as ISO 9142.

I searched a little but couldn't find an explicit ISO standard that is specifically for Computer Icons.

So, has one such standard been published? or a similar recognized one?.

  • It would be nice to leverage others' learned recognition in my diagrams rather than searching for obscure clipart each time. May 6, 2022 at 3:15

2 Answers 2


ISO's technical committee TC 145 is responsible for graphical symbols:

Standardization in the field of graphical symbols as well as of colours and shapes, whenever these elements form part of the message that a symbol is intended to convey, e.g. a safety sign.

You can find a list of related ISO standards and those under their direct responsibility.

If the icons contain text, have a look at W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), where you can find guidelines how to make the images accessible (contrast).

  • 1
    You can browse them at iso.org/obp/ui/#home and tick 'Graphical symbols'. You have to enter a search term, but if you just want to browse by category, terms like 'for' and 'to' match most of them... Mar 14, 2013 at 16:57

I don't think there is an ISO rule for icons, but there definitely are some 'standards' for Desktop applications.

Size-wise, Windows .ico icons range from 16x16 to 48x48 (pre-Vista), up to 256x256 (post-Vista). Mac OS X .icns icons go from 16x16 up to 512x512. Favicons for web have to be 16x16.

There are some naming agreements as well, they have to be composed of US-ASCII characters, and the dash “-” is used to separate levels of specificity (edit-copy, edit-cut, edit-paste).

But I think every program has its own conventions. For example, Symantec follows this one. While some of them are more or less common ground ("Color icons indicate objects that are in a healthy, running condition. Gray icons indicate objects that are offline."), specific functionalities follow their own internal rules.

  • Depending on the platform for which the icons are to be used are the standards or guidelines that one should follow right?. Mar 12, 2013 at 22:12
  • @UriHerrera Yes, most likely. What are you designing for?
    – Yisela
    Mar 12, 2013 at 22:19
  • Well, actually it's for my own OS project for which I'm doing the Guidelines but I wondered if besides those if there was an International standard in place. Mar 12, 2013 at 22:36
  • Not that I know of. I just came across these open icon packages, if you don't have your icons already they might be of help.
    – Yisela
    Mar 12, 2013 at 22:44
  • Actually I've finished them but sort of like wanted to have them certified just as the rest of the UI this OS will end up using because as I understand for UIs there are various standards currently published. Mar 12, 2013 at 22:51

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