The influence of both the mode of standardization and the type of standard on the precision of four manual colorimetric methods performed under optimal conditions variance (1) is described. The terms variable calibration mode and constant calibration mode are proposed; these describe standardization by within-run standards and standardization by a predetermined calibration relationship between concentration and absorbance that remains constant over a fixed period of time. We show that calibration relationships and mode of standardization must be established for each and every individual method on objective evidence. Where within-run standards are used, they must be carefully selected for each method. The implications for method evaluation and quality control are discussed.