Understanding annotation scale of AutoCAD

The annotative property was added in the AutoCAD 2008 version and it is by far one of the most useful tools of AutoCAD. Prior to induction of annotation scale of AutoCAD, the task of plotting objects with correct scale for different viewports was a tedious job.

One had to make multiple copies of the same object for different scales and the objects were then put on different layers and for each viewport or scale of drawing only appropriate layer was turned on keeping rest of the layers off.

This process results in an unnecessary amount of data in drawing leading to confusion and larger file size and it’s needless to say that it also causes wastage of drafting time. The annotative property took this trouble out of drawing process.

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Understanding Annotative property:

Let’s assume that we have a floor plan with maximum exterior dimensions of 525 inches and 336 inches. Now in order to plot this drawing on a normal A3 size sheet of paper which is 420 X 297 mm we need to decrease the overall scale of drawing to appropriate size.

Let’s select a scale of ¼” = 1’ which in layman’s term can be summed up as 0.25 inches on paper equals 1 feet on actual drawing. Now with this scale, the drawing looks like this on A3 paper.

Annotation Scale AutoCAD

Here all dimensions, text and blocks are clearly visible with respect to the viewport. Now here is another drawing in which only the kitchen is included at a zoomed scale of 1” = 1’

Now obviously with a change of scale of viewport the scale of dimension text also changed in same proportion which you can see in the drawing but do we really need large dimension text as seen in figure 2?

Obviously, we don’t need large text we want uniform text and dimension size throughout different scales of the drawing. So we can assign the annotative property to dimension and text and keep its size fixed in different scales throughout the drawing.

Figure 3 is again plotted at the scale of 1”=1’ but with annotative property assigned to the dimension text in which size of dimension text is equal to its size in A3 sheet (figure 1) where the scale was ¼”=1’ making it look more consistent.

Making Annotative dimension:

To make annotative dimension style type DIMSTYLE on the command line and press enter. A new dimension style manager window will pop up, click on the new button on right side of this window. Now give your dimension style a name, I am naming it as “My Anno Dim” and check the annotative radio button then click on continue.

Annotation Scale of AutoCAD

Figure 4

New dimension style window will pop up with multiple tabs, select text tab and change the size of text to 1/8” or whatever paper height of text you want to keep in all scales. Similarly, change arrow size from symbols and arrow tab to 1/8”.

If you already have a dimension style for your drawing and you want to make that style annotative then select your dimension style from dimension style manager then go to fit tab and check the annotative radio button from the scale for dimension features panel.

Click on OK to close new dimension style manager and then click on close from dimension style manager window too.

Annotation Scale of AutoCAD

Figure 5

Now our drawing is prepared with a new annotative dimension. Make My Anno Dim dimension style current by selecting it from dimension style drop down and add dimensions to the drawing in model space using current annotative dimension style.

Adding Scale to Annotative dimensions:

Before preparing the layout for final plotting we should decide the scales in which we want to plot our drawing. Let’s assume that we want to plot the drawing on A3 paper size and on three different scales 1”=1’, 1/8”=1’ and ½”=1’.

In order to make annotative dimensions visible on all of these scales, we need to add these scales to the dimensions. From status bar click on add scales… button Capture to turn it on, you can also turn on show annotation objects button to see a real-time effect of the change in scale on your drawing, see figure 6 for reference.

6

Figure 6

For adding scale in an older version of AutoCAD type OBJECTSCALE on the command line and press enter then select all dimensions for which you want to add scales then press enter again. Annotation object scale window will pop up, select add button and add scales to the list and click OK to close all open windows.

Annotation Scale of AutoCAD

Figure 7

Now click on scale drop down menu next to add scales button and select scale 1”=1’ from the drop down menu, repeat the process for 1/8”=1’ and ½”=1’ scales also. Now the scales are added to the drawing and our drawing can now be prepared for plotting.

Do not add many scales to the annotative dimensions because it may cause a lot of background processes and as a result, your software performance may suffer.

Preparing layout views:

Go to layout tab and type PAGESETUP on the command line and press enter, select modify from page setup manager window and select ISO A3 paper size from the Paper Size drop-down menu of page setup window. Click OK to close page setup window.

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Now create three rectangular viewports in paper space and assign scales of 1”=1’, 1/8”=1’ and ½”=1’ to three viewports. You will notice that although we have different drawing components like text, blocks and geometries on different scales but the size of dimension text is constant throughout the viewports because of annotative property assigned to them.

If you change the scale of any of these viewports to the value other than the one which is assigned to annotative dimension then the dimensions will not appear for that scale. In order to make dimension appear for a new scale, you need to add that scale to the annotative dimensions as explained above.

Changing visibility of annotative object:

You can change the position of your annotative object according to the scale. For example, in the scale of 1”=1’ the dimension appears in the middle of the dining table but for a scale of ½”=1’ the dimension may be made to appear outside dining table for the same dimension as shown in figure 8.

Annotation Scale of AutoCAD

Figure 8

To change the visibility of these objects simply activate viewports by double clicking within them and move dimensions using grips to the position where you want it to appear for the particular viewport, the position of the annotative object will not change in another viewport.

Conclusion:

The methods explained in this article can be used for assigning annotative scales to other objects like Blocks, Hatch and Mtext also. The annotative feature is a great time saving and productivity tool that should be used in the drawing wherever required.

This tool not only helps in making a more organized and professional drawing but it also helps in keeping useless clutter out of the drawing that you are forced to use if not using annotative property.

Do you have questions related to this tip? Let me know in comments below.

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About the Author:

I am a mechanical engineer and I have worked with Design, Manufacturing and Training industries but now SourceCAD is my full-time work and I use it to train students all over the world. I also train corporate clients and help them develop the skill set of their workforce.

I am Autodesk AutoCAD Certified Professional and an Autodesk expert elite member. I am a regular contributor of AUGI World magazine and apart from SourceCAD I also develop AutoCAD video courses for Pluralsight and other E-Learning businesses.

18 Comments

  1. Taurai Dhinha June 11, 2017 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Can I use a non standard scale for annonation, for example 3:1.

    • Jaiprakash Pandey June 11, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can add your own custom scale and use it for annotative dimensioning.

  2. Kasia February 3, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Hi
    Is there any way of rotating and stretching annotative block (anno-leader with anno-text in a frame with hatch: dynamic blocks as well) in one scale but to not effect the same detail in other scale? I need to keep block as they are in scale 1:1250 and rotate them in scale 1:2500. would more than likely need to stretch them to avoid overlapping… any suggestions?
    Regards

  3. Chris December 28, 2016 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    I have follow the steps for the annotative dimensions but in paper space I see the different dimensions sizes. (I have 3 different viewport scales).
    What could be the problem?
    Thank you.

    • Chris December 29, 2016 at 12:20 am - Reply

      Another issue is that when I move one dimension in one viewport using the grips, the dimension moves in all viewports (?).

      • Jaiprakash Pandey January 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm - Reply

        If you apply the annotative property and then selectively change the scale of dimensions in the viewport then moving them will not cause the dimensions to move in all viewports.

    • Jaiprakash Pandey January 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      can you share the snapshot?

  4. mohammed osman June 24, 2016 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Dear Sir,Pandey,

    my self mohammed osman

    i am electrical designer working in abu dhabi- UAE

    i read all the article but still confuse with annotation scale . can you please suggest me any video tutorial .

    thanks,

  5. Paul MT April 9, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

    I thought annotive scaling was introduced in 2007, the AutoCAD 2008 version It’s been around a lot longer than people think

    • Jaiprakash Pandey April 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      Yes Paul Annotative scaling was introduced in 2008 version, thanks for pointing it out.

  6. michaelviscetto April 8, 2016 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Dear Jaiprakash,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together.
    I love annotative scaling and have been using it and teaching others how to use it since 2012.
    I also agree that annotating in Paper Space is a dangerous proposition and I personally do not recommend it.

    In regard to training others on how to utilize this tool some people get it quickly some get it slowly. It is a challenge to wrap your head around. Especially the old school drafters like me. I hated it until I understood it. However, with proper tools such as what you have provided us as well as a few other YouTube videos and patience, users will start to use it, understand it and begin to love it as I did.

    There are some tricks to it for sure. We need to understand what Annotative scaling expects from us. I have learned that keeping it simple and being very intentional about what objects are assigned what scale is critical to the success of this tool. Also, the ability to relocate the object “Scale Representation” is a very unique and powerful tool. But as you mentioned, it needs to be done by selecting the object and using the grip to reposition it. If you select it and move it like any other object the entire object moves including ALL of the scale representations assigned to that object.

    Once again, thank you for taking the time to help others understand this tool.
    Be well.

    Michael

    • Jaiprakash Pandey April 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks Michael for your comment, I also agree that drafters are generally reluctant to use this property despite its great features.

  7. Bob Diaz April 8, 2016 at 12:54 am - Reply

    I know exactly what you are talking about. My problem is teaching it to my students. So I use google maps as an example. Some grasp it, others are still lost.

  8. Patricia Ellistone April 7, 2016 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I don’t understand why you would have copied objects multiple times – just scale the viewports then annotate and dimension in paperspace.

    • Anonymous April 7, 2016 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Aside from it being bad practice, dimensioning in paper space can become a major issue if you have to change the position of the objects within the viewport.

    • Jaiprakash Pandey April 7, 2016 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      It is completely your choice of using dimensions in paper space or model space but I would suggest you not to add annotations in paper space because there are chances of your dimensions easily becoming “un-associative” with change in position of viewport, moreover if an update in geometry is made in model space it will not reflect in the layout view directly. Dimensioning in model space also offers ability to manipulate layer visibility states according to viewports in paper space. Here is a great article by paul munford that will explain it more clearly http://cadsetterout.com/drawing-standards/autocad-dimensioning-in-model-or-paper-space/

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