Stable isotope ratios are reported in the literature in terms of a deviation from an international standard (δ-values). The referencing procedures, however, differ from instrument to instrument and are not consistent between measurement facilities. This paper reviews an attempt to unify the strategy for referencing isotopic measurements. In particular, emphasis is given to the importance of identical treatment of sample and reference material (‘IT principle’), which should guide all isotope ratio determinations and evaluations. The implementation of the principle in our laboratory, the monitoring of our measurement quality, the status of the international scales and reference materials and necessary correction procedures are discussed. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.