There are different types of technical or engineering specifications (specs), and the term is used differently in different technical contexts. They often refer to particular documents, and/or particular information within them. The word specification is broadly defined as “to state explicitly or in detail” or “to be specific”.
A requirement specification is a documented requirement, or set of documented requirements, to be satisfied by a given material, design, product, service, etc. It is a common early part of engineering design and product development processes in many fields.
A functional specification is a kind of requirement specification, and may show functional block diagrams.
A design or product specification describes the features of the solutions for the Requirement Specification, referring to either a designed solution or final produced solution. It is often used to guide fabrication/production. Sometimes the term specification is here used in connection with a data sheet (or spec sheet), which may be confusing. A data sheet describes the technical characteristics of an item or product, often published by a manufacturer to help people choose or use the products. A data sheet is not a technical specification in the sense of informing how to produce.
An “in-service” or “maintained as” specification, specifies the conditions of a system or object after years of operation, including the effects of wear and maintenance (configuration changes).
Specifications are a type of technical standard that may be developed by any of various kinds of organizations, in both the public and private sectors. Example organization types include a corporation, a consortium (a small group of corporations), a trade association (an industry-wide group of corporations), a national government (including its different public entities, regulatory agencies, and national laboratories and institutes), a professional association (society), a purpose-made standards organization such as ISO, or vendor-neutral developed generic requirements. It is common for one organization to refer to (reference, call out, cite) the standards of another. Voluntary standards may become mandatory if adopted by a government or business contract.