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de facto standard

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A de facto standard is something that is used so widely that it is considered a standard for a given application although it has no official status.

Here are a few examples of de facto standards:

  • The QWERTY keyboard layout is the standard pattern in countries that use a Latin-based alphabet. 
  • Microsoft’s Windows operating system, along with commonly used business applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, has long been the de facto standard for business and home users.
  • A breadcrumb trail is a de facto standard website navigation tool that allows a user to see where the current page is in relation to the website's hierarchy. 

De facto standards contrast with de jure standards, which have official status as confirmed by a standards organization.  De facto standards can also become de jure standards over time as, for example, HTML and PDF have done.

De facto, from Medieval Latin, means from fact.

This was last updated in February 2014

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