[rfc-i] Titles for divided reference sections in non-standards track documents

Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) rse at rfc-editor.org
Mon Jun 2 03:51:24 PDT 2014

On 5/30/14, 9:25 AM, Elwyn Davies wrote:
> Hi.
> The argument about whether informational and experimental documents (and
> maybe BCPs) are allowed to have their references divided into important
> ones that you need to read and some more peripheral ones has settled on
> allowing two sections, it seems.
> Currently we then insist on calling the important ones "Normative
> References".  Given the (primary) dictionary definition of
> "normative" (A variant of "Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or
> standard"), this seems to be a misuse of language in at least some
> informational documents - the ones that import other organization's
> 'standards' could have "Normative References" but in ones that do not
> define a standard it seems misplaced.
> I suggest that we allow the use of "Key References" and "Additional
> References" as an alternative where it is more appropriate.

Hello Elwyn,

I see the point your making, but I don't think it is really necessary.
Regardless of the track, if there are references that are necessary to
understand the content of a particular RFC, then they are normative

The revised Style Guide, currently in queue for publication as an RFC,
says in Section 4.8.6:

   Reference lists must indicate whether each reference is normative or
   informative, where normative references are essential to implementing
   or understanding the content of the RFC, and informative references
   provide additional information.   When both normative and informative
   references exist, the references section should be split into two

The IESG first defined the split between the two types of references; if
the guidance needs to change for non-standards track IETF documents,
then an IESG statement is in order.


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