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How to Plot a Paper Space Layout in AutoCAD 2014

By Bill Fane, David Byrnes

In most industries, model space plotting went the way of the dodo 20 years ago. Paper space gives you many additional options in AutoCAD for controlling the look of the output without having to modify the underlying geometry. So most of the time, you plot a paper space layout instead.

Paper space is the environment that’s specifically designed for outputting hard copy of your drawings.

AutoCAD gives you two alternative ways of switching between full-screen model space and the paper space layouts stored in the drawing. If you choose to display the Model and Layout tabs, you simply click the appropriate tab to select one. If you have hidden the Model and Layout tabs, use the Model and Layout buttons, plus Quick View Layouts, on the status bar.

Plotting a paper space layout is much like plotting model space except that you first find the appropriate layout and verify that its tab is selected before you open the Plot dialog box. Follow these steps:

  1. Click Quick View Layouts on the status bar and scroll through the image panel.

    The Quick View image panel opens in the lower part of the drawing area and displays a preview panel of model space and each layout stored in the drawing.

    You can also display Quick View layouts by hovering the cursor on the drawing tabs at the top of the graphics area.

  2. Move the mouse pointer across the images in the Quick View panel, and pause over the image of the layout that you want to plot.

    As you move the mouse pointer over each image, icons appear: Publish at the upper-right corner, and Plot at the upper-left.

  3. Click the Plot button in the upper-left corner of the image panel of the layout you want to plot.

    The Plot dialog box appears with the name of the layout to be plotted displayed on the title bar.

    If no layout was previously set up, AutoCAD creates a default layout. (If the Show Page Setup Manager for New Layouts setting on the Display tab of the Options dialog box is turned on, you see the Page Setup Manager dialog box first; just click the Close button.) The default layout probably isn’t useful for real projects, but you can use it to find out about layout plotting.

  4. Specify a printer/plotter name and a paper size.

    If you don’t have a printer capable of producing sheets larger than letter or tabloid size, you can still experiment by selecting a device that outputs to a file, such as DWG To PDF.pc3.

  5. In the What to Plot drop-down list, choose Layout.

    The Layout option is available only when plotting a layout tab; Limits is available only when plotting the Model tab.

  6. Specify the plot offset (such as 0 in both the X and Y directions).

    Specifying the plot offset as 0 in both X and Y directions places the lower-left corner of the plotted drawing at the lower-left corner of the printable area.

  7. In the Plot Scale area, select 1:1 from the Scale drop-down list.

    One primary advantage of using layouts is that you don’t need to know about drawing scale in order to plot the drawing — hence the name paper space.


    To create a half-size plot of a layout, select 1:2 from the Scale drop-down list. In addition, select the Scale Lineweights check box to reduce lineweights proportionally.

    If you find that the layout is too big for the plotter’s largest paper size at a plot scale of 1:1, you can select Extents from the What to Plot drop-down list and then select the Fit to Paper check box in the Plot Scale area.

    Alternatively, you can close the Plot dialog box and fix the problem if you want to have a paper space layout that permanently reflects a new paper size. Use the Page Setup dialog box to modify the layout settings, or copy the layout and modify the new copy.

  8. Click the More Options button and change any additional plot options you want.

  9. Click the Preview button, ensure that the drawing displays on the paper at the correct orientation and size, right-click, and choose Exit from the menu that appears to return to the Plot dialog box.

    If you find any problems in the preview, change the plot settings and preview again until it looks right.

  10. Click OK to create the plot.