All over the world, Germans are known to be very order-loving and well-organized people. Even if this might not be true for everyone, there is a standard for almost everything in Germany. At the moment, there are about 32,500 DIN standards and the number is ever growing. We all know our DIN A4 notebooks from school and we know that a sheet of DIN A4 paper will fit into most printers. We also know that when we buy screws with the right thread standard, we will be able to put together anything without problems. But standards are not only limited to physical things, there is a plethora of other cases where standards are important, which are non-physical as for example the DIN 1505 which regulates title details in documents.
So what else is there to know about DIN norms? DIN stands for “Deutsches Institut für Normung”, which means “German Institute for Standardization” and was already founded in 1917 in Berlin as “Standardization Committee of German Industry”. Despite what many may think, DIN norms are not obligatory and are only to be understood as guidelines. Nevertheless, they can influence jurisprudence even if they are not laws in the common sense. As soon as they are cited in contracts, laws or regulations, they become binding.
So what is it that we Germans like so much about DIN standards? Well, a very simple explanation would be that it makes life a lot easier most of the time. In addition, DIN standards contribute with roughly 17 billion Euros to Germany’s gross domestic product, because they remove trade restrictions and the proverbial quality of German workmanship (“Deutsche Wertarbeit”) has helped build the good reputation of Germany after the two world wars. Something “Made in Germany” stands for something with high quality and value. Also, the world known bavarian purity law (“Reinheitsgebot”) concerning the production of beer in Germany established in 1516 fits into this context. But do we really like DIN standards so much because they make life easier or because we simply like making them? To strengthen the latter: there is even a DIN norm for the term “norm”: DIN EN 45020.
— Kristina Klinker