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How to Set Linetype and Dimension Scales in AutoCAD 2014

Even if you’ve engraved the drawing scale factor on your desk and written it on your hand, AutoCAD 2014 doesn’t know the drawing scale until you enter it. Keeping AutoCAD in the dark is fine as long as you’re just drawing continuous lines and curves representing real-world geometry because you draw these objects at their real-world size, without worrying about plot scale.

However, as soon as you start using noncontinuous dash-dot linetypes (line patterns that contain gaps in them), you need to tell AutoCAD how to scale the gaps in the linetypes based on the plot scale. If you forget this, the dash-dot linetype patterns can look waaaay too big or too small.

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The scale factor that controls dash-dot linetypes is found in a system variable called LTScale (as in, LineType Scale). You can change this setting at any time, but it’s best to set it correctly when you’re setting up the drawing.

The following steps include directions for typing system variable and command names. To set the linetype scale at the keyboard, follow these steps:

  1. Type LTSCALE (or LTS) and press Enter.

    AutoCAD responds with a prompt, asking you for the scale factor. The value at the end of the prompt is the current linetype scale setting, as shown in the following command line example:

    Enter new linetype scale factor <1.0000>:
  2. Type the value you want for the linetype scale and press Enter.

    The easiest choice is to set the linetype scale to the drawing scale factor. Some people, however, find that the dashes and gaps in dash-dot linetypes get a bit too long when they use the drawing scale factor. If you’re one of those people, set LTSCALE to one-half of the drawing scale factor.

    Alternatively, you can specify linetype scale in the Linetype Manager dialog box: Click the Linetype drop-down list on the Properties panel of the Ribbon’s Home tab and select Other. Then in the Linetype Manager dialog box, click the Show Details button, and type your desired linetype scale in the Global Scale Factor text box.

Besides LTSCALE, there are three other similarly named system variables you can use to control the display of dash-dot linetypes:

  • PSLTSCALE: Makes linetype spacing look the same in paper space viewports, regardless of the viewport scale

  • CELTSCALE: Changes the effective linetype scale factor for new objects

  • MSLTSCALE: Visually displays dash-dot linetypes in the model tab based on the annotative scale setting

If any of these sound useful — and it is strongly encouraged that you enable PSLTSCALE — check them out in the online help index.

You should set linetype scale only when you’re starting a new drawing from one of the generic AutoCAD templates (acad.dwt or acadiso.dwt in the full version, acadlt.dwt or acadltiso.dwt in AutoCAD LT) and you’re not using the default linetype scale. Don’t change LTSCALE in existing drawings without knowing why you’re doing it and what values to set them to, in case someone before you set those values for good reasons.

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