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For decades (a century, or at least since 1964) specifications were organized by 16 divisions, which correspond, roughly, to the chronology of constriction—from site work (divison 01) to finsh work (divsion 09), and beyond.

Enter the late 20th century, new telecommunications, and the need to accommodate future development. What developed as the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) 16-Divison Format (most recently in 1995) evolved, in 2004, into an ever-changing 50-Division Format, "revised to allow them to more adequately cover construction industry subject matter and to allow seamless addition of new subjects" (Transition Guide). To see this...

Register at MasterFormat to access MasterFormat Divisions. Peruse. Note notation system.

To 'test drive' this for windows (with Window documentation and Window sash specification in mind)...

  • Navigate "Openings' to reach "08 52 69 Wood Storm Windows"
  • Navigate to "08 81 00 Glass Glazing"
  • Navigate to "08 75 00 Window Hardware"

And look at the following (with wood windows in mind), here:

While you are at it, consider special concerns that might pertain to work on a window. For example: if window sash are to be removed, how are the openings to be protected temporarily. Or the converse, if the sash are not to be removed, how will they be protected during (related) work?

MasterFormat 2004 Edition

The recognized industry standard for more than 40 years, MasterFormat 2004 Edition replaces MasterFormat 1995, expanding the well-known "16 Divisions" to 50 Divisions of construction information. Peruse.


Briefly, specicications are divided into three components.

Divisions — A standard category of construction specification established by the Construction Specifications Institute and MASTERFORMAT. Was 16, now approximately 50.

Sections — Now that the five-digit division number has been replaced with six there are many more possibilities. A portion of project specifications covering one trade subject (material), system, or assembly. It is divided into three parts. Information in any part of a section does not repeat material previously cited in Division 1 - General Requirements.

Parts — One of three groupings of a section, incldudeing:

  • general
  • products
  • execution

Each part includes paragraphs: One or more sentences, dealing with a particular item or point.

The specifications have been designed to not go above three levels. This requires forethought and planning on the part of the specification writer. Only use titles where needed for major topic changes. The typical format is as follows:

PART 1 – GENERAL 1st level – required
1.3 QUALITY ASSURANCE. 2nd level – required
1.3.05 Testing. 3rd level – titles can vary as needed

However, there are several, different formats that are used.

Capitalization — The following terms will always be capitalized:

  • Contractor
  • Drawings
  • Engineer
  • Owner