This document establishes general principles for the structuring of systems including structuring of information about systems. Based on these principles, rules and guidance are given for the formulation of unambiguous reference designations for objects in any system. The reference designation identifies objects for the purpose of creation and retrieval of information about an object and, where realized, about its corresponding component. A reference designation labelled at a component is the key to finding information about that object among different kinds of documents. The principles are general and are applicable to all technical areas (for example mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, construction engineering, process engineering). They can be used for systems based on different technologies or for systems combining several technologies. This document is also a horizontal publication intended for use by technical committees in preparation of publications related to reference designations in accordance with the principles laid down in IEC Guide 108. IEC 81346-1:2022 cancels and replaces the first edition published in 2009. This edition constitutes a technical revision. This edition includes the following significant technical changes with respect to the previous edition: a) the scope includes a reference to IEC Guide 108 for being a horizontal publication; b) synchronization with IEC 81346-2:2019 and ISO 81346-12:2018; c) the introduction of the type aspect; d) introduction of an information model of the reference designation system; e) introduction of an information model for the framework of reference designation system to comply with International Standard 81346 series; f) introduction of recommendation for metadata for design structure management; g) introduction of rules and method for designation of relations between objects; h) introduction of requirements for development of sector-specific parts of the International Standard 81346 series; i) introduction of requirements for incorporation of sub-object in object structures; j) introduction of recommendations for documentation of the application of the International Standard 81346 series; k) introduced definition of new terms used; l) new rules added and existing rules modified; m) notes related to rules are converted to normative text as "Comment to Rule nn".