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  • AutoCAD Tips & Rules on Scaling
    by Barrie Mathews (, March 14, 2003

    Scaling in CAD is one of those slippery things with which almost everyone has difficulty maintaining a firm grasp, yet it is fundamental to the programmability of your system. You have to adopt governance for scaling, because it will dictate the outcome of the entire system.

    Nail down the fundamentals, and then set up your software and your blocks accordingly. For example, just because your plot dialog works in inches and millimetres (for measuring paper) does not mean that you should. If your design work is predominately in feet, then all of your settings, and all of your blocks should be scaled in feet.

    a) When you transfer your design to paper, you use 1 = 12 in your plotting setups (design unit = paper unit).

    b) When you scale your viewport for 1:500 its 1/500 X Paper, not 1/500/12 (I hope that's right!)

    c) When you insert a symbol or a detail block, you insert at 1:1, or whatever scale it is relative to the scale of your view (e.g. Block Scale/View Scale) not 500/1000/25.4 and you insert without needing to switch your Insert units settings, profiles, or calculate conversion factors.

    d) When draw text and dimensions in a view scaled at 1:500, you use 500 and not 500 X 12 or 500 X 25.4

    e) Your drawing border and title block is scaled in feet and it is always inserted in the layout at 1:1.

    Abiding by these rules give you the predictability that your processes can always accommodate drawing units and scales in the same manner. To help you implement this, S-MAN standards management utilities will define all of your system settings and dimstyles in whatever drawing unit you are using. For example if you normally design in feet or metres, you can switch the system settings and dimstyles of an old drawing set in inches, to feet or metres. For whatever drawing unit you are working in, any settings required for scale are always the actual scale and no conversion factors are needed.

    About the Author

    Barrie Mathews, President, Softco Engineering Systems Inc., is a systems analyst, engineering technologist, and long time businessman in the construction industry. Barrie generously contributes occasional "CAD Standards" focused articles to the GeoCommunity.

    This contribution appeared in a column titled "Tips on Managing AutoCAD Using S-MAN Tools" from S-MAN E-NEWS. S-MAN E-NEWS is a free monthly newsletter for AutoCAD users, interested in AutoCAD Standards Management issues. To view previous issues, go to: Other items of interest appearing in the March, 2003 edition of S-MAN News include; Automating with Standard Setups, Managing Annotation, The Future for Named Plotstyles

    To get your free subscription to S-MAN News simply Send an e-mail to, with the word subscribe or unsubscribe in the subject line.

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