How to Scale Dimensions for Output in AutoCAD 2014 - dummies

How to Scale Dimensions for Output in AutoCAD 2014

By Bill Fane, David Byrnes

You need to adjust the size of text and dimensions that are applied in model space to suit the final plotting scale of the AutoCAD drawing. By far, the best way to do this is to use annotative dimensions. Follow these steps to use the Annotative dimension style and apply an annotative scale to a dimension:

  1. Start a new, blank imperial drawing.

    Use the acad.dwt template.

  2. Draw a horizontal line about 20 units long.

  3. Apply a linear dimension (DimLInear, or DLI) to the line.

    Pretty hard to read, isn’t it?

  4. Switch to the Annotative dimension style.

    Find the Dimension Style drop-down list that reads Standard in the upper-right corner of the Dimension panel of the Annotate tab on the Ribbon. Click it and then choose Annotative.

  5. Change the current drawing annotation scale.

    Select the 1:5 scale from the drop-down list, under the Annotation Scale button in the lower-right corner of the application window.

  6. Use the DIMLIN command again and place a second dimension for the line.

    Ah, that’s better, and it didn’t require any esoteric calculations. You now have to dimension that measure the length of the line, but the text and arrowheads appear at different sizes now.

To avoid confusing results, which is what has turned off most users from using annotative annotations, make sure that the Automatically Add Scales button in the lower-right corner is turned off. When Automatically Add Scales is enabled, AutoCAD updates all annotation objects that support annotative behavior when you change the current annotative scale.

Having all scales attached to every annotation object is not ideal as it is much harder to control where the new scale representations appear in your drawing especially when they might not all be needed.

Dimensioning details at different scales is always the most difficult type of dimensioning, unless you use annotative dimensions.

Here’s the easy way to create a multiscale drawing:


  1. Draw the object at full size in model space, including the small notch detail.

  2. Select the 1:10 scale from the drop-down list under the Annotation Scale button in the lower-right corner of the AutoCAD window.

  3. Apply the three dimensions that show in the Scale 1:10 view, using an annotative dimension style.

  4. Apply an annotative hatch and then draw the center line.

  5. Edit the properties of the hatch pattern and the 1.400 dimension to add 1:2 scale factors.

  6. Make sure that the Automatically Add Annotative Scales button is turned off, and change the Annotation Scale to 1:2.

    Three existing dimensions disappear, and the hatch and the 1.400 dimension resize themselves.

  7. Add the 1.500 and 2.400 dimensions.

  8. Switch to the paper space Layout1 tab. Click the viewport boundary and then grip-edit it approximately to the size and location shown.

    Your model space drawing is probably not properly located, and the hatch and dimensions don’t show.

  9. Click the viewport boundary again, click the Viewport Scale button (it probably reads similarly to 0.694694), and select 1:10 from the scale list.

    The viewport zooms accordingly, and the hatch and 1:10 dimensions appear. If necessary, double-click in the viewport to enter model space, and then pan accordingly.

    Don’t zoom or else you lose the scale setting!

  10. Double-click outside the viewport to return to the paper space layout.

  11. Create a second viewport by using the VPORTS command, or simply copy it and then modify the existing one.

  12. Repeat Steps 8 and 9 on the new viewport, but use a Viewport Scale of 1:5.

    Use the Lock/Unlock button to lock the viewports to prevent inadvertently messing with them.

There you have it — a multiview, multiscale drawing without duplicating any geometry or annotations. To see the real magic, go to the model space tab and observe that there’s still only one model of the part and no detail at the other scale. Use the Stretch command to play with the depth and location of the notch. Go back to the Layout1 tab to see how everything has automatically updated.