What's the meaning of "a non-normative document"?

Does "non-normative" mean "casual"?

What's the significant difference between a normative document and a non-normative one?

2 Answers 2


I typically see this in reference to standards and technical documents. A normative definition or statement is one that should be taken as authoritative or imperative (i.e., a should or a must), while a non-normative one is one that bears no such restriction.

Synonyms for normative would include prescriptive, so synonyms of non-normative could range from descriptive to declarative to informal or casual, depending on context.


Basically, it means "informal" or "nonstandard", as from the Free Online Dictionary:

Not based on a norm

  • 1
    I was going to reply that this was just wrong, and the Free Online Dictionary was equally wrong, because it is certainly not how I would use the word. But looking up the word in COCA, I find that the vast majority of uses there are exactly according to this definition, so I was wrong.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 8, 2011 at 10:58

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