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Guidelines, instructions, standards and policies

In short, a Guide provides an illustration how to accomplish a task, a procedure (manual) defines the sequence of steps [it is actually a matter of Operating Instructions or a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)], while the standard defines the smallest level below which there can be no change. A policy is the highest level of expression (definition) equal for the overall organization (Figure 1). As one can see from the pyramid of these terms, the most documents are required in order to define the policies of one institution, while less documents are required for defining the standards, even less documents are required for definitions of the manuals, and the least is required for the guides.

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Figure 1: Schematic representation of the pyramid of policy, standard, procedure (manual) and guide.


  • Word of advice how to act in a specific condition.
  • Recommended, however it is not mandatorily controlled.
  • Example: Guide of discrimination of the employees; Guide for pharmacogenetics of Clopidogrel.
  • Additional: “Guide” means a Recommendation only aimed at guidance


Procedure (Manual)

  • A sequence of detailed steps in order to realize the end
  • Step by step Manual for realization
  • Example: Standard surgical procedure, Medical procedure
  • Additional: comes from a “process”; determined way how to do something 


  • Acceptable level of quality or an achievement
  • Measurable mandatory controls with a low level
  • Example: Standard of life, standard size
  • Additional: We don’t make and write the standards, we follow them


  • Recommended statements at a high level that protect the information through the business
  • Rules of business for correct and consistent relation with the staff (the employees) in order to provide consent
  • Example: Policy about the way of dressing, Sick leave policy, Email and Internet policy
  • Additional: “Policy” – to provide discipline and consent