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9/5/2014 How to Set up an AutoCAD Drawing: 16 Steps - wikiHow 1/5
87,683 views Edited 20 weeks ago
How to Set up an AutoCAD Drawing
Two Methods: To Scale a Drawing Scale with reference length
Millions of civil engineers worldwide use AutoCAD to help create visual
representations of important projects. Buildings, bridges, and cityscapes come
alive in AutoCAD and allow engineers, clients, and the public to better
understand a certain design. AutoCAD is an essential visual communication tool
for civil engineers.
The following instructions will inform you on how to perform the proper set-up of
your AutoCAD settings. This set-up is crucial in order for you to produce a
drawing that makes sense and is visually attractive. Read each step carefully
before performing the action required.
Open the AutoCAD program. The program is either shown as an icon on your
desktop, or you may find it in the START menu on the bottom left corner of your
computer screen.
Go to modelspace. There are two views in AutoCAD: modelspace and paperspace.
Your drawing should always be made in modelspace, and dimensions that are added
later should be represented in paperspace. To switch between modelspace and
paperspace, view the tabs located at the bottom of the screen. One tab is labeled
modelspace and the other tabs are labeled either as sheet or layout. The sheet or
layout tabs indicate paperspace.If you are in modelspace, the background of the screen
should appear black. If you are in paperspace, the background should appear white.
Set your units. Engineers represent units in various ways: feet, meters, etc. To
ensure accuracy and eliminate confusion, it is important that the drawing is set in the
proper units. To set up your units, type UN into your keyboard and then select the ENTER
key. A dialog box should pop-up on the screen allowing you to specify the unit type and
precision for your units. The options for the unit types are: DECIMAL, SCIENTIFIC,
ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURAL, FRACTIONAL. The precision section allows you to
pick the number of decimal places for your dimensions. If you are doing a project for your
teacher, she should have information regarding unit specifications.
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9/5/2014 How to Set up an AutoCAD Drawing: 16 Steps - wikiHow 2/5
Select the toolbars that you will use throughout your drawing. To do this, hover
your mouse over an empty space at the top of your screen near the toolbars. Then
right-click and select AutoCAD. A long list should show up, displaying various toolbars
containing different commands. The most popular toolbars that are used for AutoCAD 2D
drawings are the DRAW, MODIFY, and OBJECT PROPERTIES toolbars. Select these
toolbars and they should pop-up on your screen. Move them to the side to create space for
your drawing. DRAW TOOLBAR: contains common drawing tools. MODIFY TOOLBAR:
contains editing options. OBJECT PROPERTIES TOOLBAR: contains style and color
Turn on OSNAP. OSNAP, which refers to object snap, is an extremely useful
property when creating a drawing. It allows you to see where the midpoint and
endpoint of a line is located, where a tangent is on a circle, and other useful information. To
turn on OSNAP, press the F3 button on your keyboard. To ensure your OSNAP settings are
on, right-click on the icon reading OSNAP located at the bottom left-hand corner of the
screen. A dialog box should pop-up on the screen. Click the SELECT ALL button,
ensuring that all OSNAP properties are turned on.
Import or go to the Autocad drawing that is not to scale. It is okay if the Autocad
drawing is not to scale, as long as you know at least one length. Type in "UN" followed
by the space bar to change the units. Make sure the units are architectural and the
precision is 1/6".
Identify one line segment in the drawing that you know the length of. This can
be a wall length or the length of a building. Larger lengths make more accurate
scaling in Autocad. You do not want to scale the whole drawing by the width of a door or the
length of a piece of furniture, for example.
Measure the length of the line segment that you chose in Step 2. Click on the
line, type "properties" followed by the space bar in the command prompt. Scroll down
the pop up window until you see the length of the line. Write this number down. You can also
draw a new line in the drawing to scale from, if the line doesn't exist in the drawing, like the
length of a building, for example.
Divide the length the line should be by the length the line is in the drawing.
(length full scale) / (length measured in drawing). You should get a decimal number.
Write this number down.
Type "scale" into the command prompt followed by the space bar. Then select
the entire AutoCad drawing and press the space bar. Then click any part of the
Method 1 of 2: To Scale a Drawing
9/5/2014 How to Set up an AutoCAD Drawing: 16 Steps - wikiHow 3/5
drawing. You will see as you move your mouse, AutoCad is attempting to manually scale
the drawing. Do not click a second time. Instead type in the command prompt the decimal
number you got from Step 5. Then press the space bar. The drawing should be scaled
Check the line that you measured in step 2 to make sure the scale is now
accurate. If it is close, but slightly off, you may have not included enough decimal
places in your scale calculation. Simply repeat steps 3-6 for the new scaled drawing to get
the scale even more precise. After a second run of the scale, the AutoCad drawing should
be accurately scaled.
Check the settings. Before scaling, you should make sure that all layers are set to
Note: Pretty much the same procedure can be used when rotating an object by an
undefined angle.
Use the following:
Command: Line --> Draw a line of a length that you want to use (for example, you
have an object in your drawing, and you want it to be 100 units long, so draw a 100
units long line). This is going to be your reference length.
Command: Scale --> select entire drawing, except your reference line, press
Select the base point.
Type "re" (as reference), press space.
Pick first point and endpoint of the object from your drawing, that you want it to be
100 units long.
Type "po" (as points), press space.
Pick first point and endpoint of your referenced line that you drew.
Done. Instead of you having to calculate and writing down decimals, now AutoCAD
will do it instead, and the result will be most accurately scaled drawing.
Method 2 of 2: Scale with reference length
9/5/2014 How to Set up an AutoCAD Drawing: 16 Steps - wikiHow 4/5
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The following lists commonly used commands that are helpful in creating
an AutoCAD drawing:
Cancel - cancels a command. ESC
Undo - undos your last command. CTRL + Z
Erase - erases an object, line, or other item. E + ENTER key
Circle - creates a circle with a specific radius. C + ENTER key -->
input radius length + ENTER key
Line - creates a line of a certain length. L + ENTER key --> input
length of line + ENTER key
Rectangle - creates a rectangle of certain dimensions. REC +
ENTER key --> input dimensions +ENTER key
Trim - trims a line to an earlier point of intersection. TR + ENTER
key --> select line being trimmed +ENTER key --> select side of line
to be trimmed
Note: line must be intersected by another line in order for it to be
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