Non-Normative Synonyms in RFCs

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Last updated 2012-11-17 (latest revision 2012-05-16)
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Specifications in RFCs contain normative keywords, as defined in RFC 2119, to signify requirements, permission or prohibitions. These include MUST, SHOULD and MAY, which are commonly recorded in all CAPITALS (but need not be). The words are sometimes also intended with non-normative meaning; this different usage can be confusing. Happily there are adequate alternatives for non-normative meanings. For such situations, this document provides some alternatives to the normative vocabulary of RFC 2119.


Tony Hansen (
dcrocker (

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