10 Reasons to Use AutoCAD Layout

I use AutoCAD since R14. It already has paperspace (old term for old people like me, AutoCAD layout to younger you), but using model space is still very common. And it looks like my tutor was too lazy to teach me how to use paperspace. So I’m quite familiar with modelspace until I decided to use AutoCAD layout. AutoCAD layout today is very simple and very powerful to use. I wish we had this in early 90’s. It makes setting up plot easy. And there are many advanced features we can use with layout.

I’m not sure why today people still prefer to set their drawing border and title block in model space. I can understand if you are a veteran AutoCAD ninja who already comfortable with it. And I do know some drawings don’t need to use layout, especially schematic drawings.

But for the younger users, I expect them to start using layout. There are many advantages of using layout. These are 10 advantages I can find.


First, using AutoCAD layout will simplify the drawing. Below we have several drawings with different scales. How do we do it in model space? We were actually draw them in different scales. If you have a detailed view, then you have to copy and scale that part of your drawing. When we need to change it, then we have to update them all manually.

section and details

Using layout will give us several advantages below.

1. We Always Draw in Full Scale

It doesn’t matter if you have 2, 4, or 10 different scales in your sheet later. We can always draw in full scale 1:1. Even for beginners can easily complete the drawing without having to think how they need to scale the drawing, creating different dimension styles, etc.

2. Show Different Area of One Model

Even we only draw once with full scale, we can represent the model many times. We can represent the drawing with several viewports, showing different area of the model. Sometimes we simply need it because the model is too large for one sheet. And sometimes, we need it to show it in different scales for detailed drawings.

Because we only draw in one model, we only need to update the modelspace. Other viewports will automatically updated. We don’t have to update each drawing separately.

3. Less Styles to Manage

Let’s see image below. We have a stair section and create a detail from it. When we need to add dimension to both drawing, we have to create two dimension styles. They have different scales, so we need to create another dimension and control the dimension value by changing the scale factor. If you scale it 4x, then you need another dimension style with scale factor 1/4. You can override the properties manually, but it will take more time.

If you don’t understand, it’s OK. It can’t be explained in a paragraph or two. That’s what nice about layout: less confusion.


You have to switch between dimension styles and can bring unnecessary mistakes. What if you have 3 or 4 different scales? What if in your model space you have more than one sheet with more different scales? You will have many styles!

4. Easy to Control Drawing Scale

Another good thing about layout is it’s easy to control the drawing scale. As we discussed in no.1, we only need to draw in full scale. We can arrange them easily in layout.

It’s not so easy to explain how to apply scale, drawing border, and placing title block in model space to a new user. Using viewport, it’s easier to explain.

You can create a viewport, select it, and change the scale using viewport scale at the right bottom of your screen.


In the past, we have to use zoom scale. But today, it’s very easy after AutoCAD has scale list feature. You can see how it work in YouTube video, go to this viewport tips to see it.


If we work with modelspace, we treat it like drawing manually in a paper. When you need to represent a drawing several times, then you need to copy it to show each instance. Layout allows you to draw one model, and represent it several times. In no.2, we already discussed how we can show different areas with different scales. But there are more.

5. Different Drawing Orientation

Each viewport can be configured to have different angle orientation. I don’t explain much about it here, but you can do it with single drawing in model space too. For example you want to show a site plan with true north orientation. But you also want to show a building plan in the site plan with different orientation. It’s quite easy to do it with layout.


6. Different Drawing Representation with Layer Properties per-Viewport

Since AutoCAD 2008, we have ‘layer properties per-viewport’. We can set the layer properties for each viewport independently. For example, you can turn on hatch layer for detailed drawing, but turn it off for larger scales. You can show detailed objects for some viewports, and hide it for the others.

You can also read how I use it with layer states.


7. Get the Advantages of Annotation Scaling

Another great feature that has been added to AutoCAD is annotation scaling. We can use it in model space, however, we can get the benefits mostly in layout.

Previously, we discussed how we need only to create one drawing and we can represent it in different scales. Annotation scale allow us to do it with annotation, ensuring our annotation readable in different scales. And because we only create one annotation for all scales, any changes will reflected to all of your viewports.

If annotation scaling doesn’t not suite your needs, you can annotate your drawings in layout. It’s probably the most comfortable way for many users. Each of them has it’s own benefits. Either way, they are easier to manage than setting your sheets in modelspace.


Another good thing about layout is we tell AutoCAD to recognize the sheets. It allow us to use other features that relate to layout to manage and automate several processes. What are they?

8. Control Printing Preferences Easily

Printing preferences are very easy to set when you use layout. If you are not familiar with setting up sheet in modelspace, remember that we draw in full scale. Then we add a border and title block to include the drawing. We need to calculate the scale in plot scale below.


With layout you simply select the paper size, and always use 1:1 full scale. Plot margin will be shown in dashed lines. You can also use page setup to quickly apply your settings.


It is very easy to comprehend, even if you don’t use AutoCAD intensively. If your company already has a template, it will be easier for you.

9. Sheet Set Manager Advantages

Sheet set is a good tool to manage your drawings in a project. If you are not familiar with it, you can try to download these white papers or take a look to our e-book: document management with AutoCAD Sheet Set.

In short, we can manage the sheets so we can easily access them. After we have a drawing set, we can eTransmit and pack the whole project files as one zip file, ready to send along with dependent files. We can also plot them all at once with publish command.


Other advantage you can get is sheet set fields. Sheet set has it’s own fields, you can show the sheet number, project name, and so on. You can also create sheet list automatically. Sheet Set takes it further!


10. Batch Plot

You can plot many drawings at once with sheet set’s publish. However, if you don’t use sheet set, you can also use publish manually and add layouts from many layouts. You can plot many layouts at once, even send them to different plotters!

Can we use batch plot if we set the drawings in modelspace. Yes, but it means you have to create saved views, and create a page setup for each saved views.

What About You?

As I mentioned before, you may find using layout is not that useful for you. Maybe you can list your reasons why shouldn’t use it. And if you do like it, do you have more reasons to love it?

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  1. Randy Culp says

    The layout is your drafting board, on which you tape down a blank sheet of paper (the 1:1 border block).

    The layout tab has two basic parts, the viewports (windows through which you see your model from different perspectives and the Paperspace on which you arrange those viewports. Paperspace is ALREADY that overall frame you mentioned, it is a viewport in its on right (sorta) on which you place the viewports AND any annotation type elements like borders, north arrows, notes and dimensions.

    If you using a 22×34 sheet your frame ('border') will be 22×34 and inserted in the LAYOUT at 0,0 and a scale of 1:1.

    Viewports zoomed to the proper scale will then be placed on that frame like photos in an album. Any necessary notes/annotations will be added in paperspace on the layout inside that frame. Your pagesetup will use the corners of that border as plot definition and you ALWAYS plot 1:1.

  2. Arthur Lichtenberger says

    I am just getting into Viewport layouts and am starting to see the power of this approach. However, I don't see how I can best get my own border (i.e., I use a physical frame on the perimeter of the paper that surrounds what I am printing along with text information on the right about the project- scale of the drawing, date, logo etc) into the viewport. I certainly don't want to have to insert a frame into model space in just the right place so that it will show up in the view port layout (this approach would defeat a good bit of the power/purpose of Layout View). So how should this be done? Can/Should I insert an existing frame as a block into the Viewport Layout (i.e., choose a frame created for an 1/8th scale drawing (architecture) when I have a viewport window that is set up for 1/8th scale? Or do I have to draw it in Layoutview (crazzy to have to create a new one each time)? And how about the case where there is more than one layout views/windows in a single viewport tab? Can one insert/create an overall frame that corrals all of the layout views and also have individual frames for each layout view windows?

  3. Majekmentor says

      Good day, am an AutoCAD student please how do i print and dimension my drawing on model using Layout. Yomi Majek

  4. Majekmentor says

     Good day, am an AutoCAD student please how do i print and dimension my drawing on model using Layout. Yomi Majek

  5. says

    Oh goodness. We're not "power users" at my work by any stretch, but using layout and viewports is crucial. Layer control by viewport, 2D orthagonal views of 3D objects, different scales… all so important and fast. One thing that frustrates us is that we often use dwgs provided by manufacturers in our drawings (I'm an AV Design Consultant) – I realize that not everyone uses AutoCad as their drafting program and some must not have 'paperspace' – we get dxfs drawn at 5/32, 1/2, 3/4, all sorts of annoying things instead of actual size. Of course, they don't mention that, they merely scale their dimension units accordingly – so you go to drop in a drawing of a video projector or whatever and it looks like a cell phone. Time waster! OK, rant: off.

  6. neaton says

    Good article. I find one of the greatest features of Sheet Set Manager is the ability to quickly plot all the drawings then eTransmit all drawings and XREFs used to an archive folder without searching and wondering, "Did I use that one?" This is a real time saver when doing project archival saves at design milestones.

  7. says

    Another great post! It's very frustrating trying to work with others' drawings that have all their "sheets" and "borders", along with multiple copies of the drawing entities themselves, only in model space. They're missing an important and productive tool, namely Layouts (I still call it paperspace, too), as you pointed out very well and clearly.

    I must say, however, that I've not really used or figured out Sheet Set Manager, which after reading this post I'm going to do!

    • says

      Thank you Eric! I'm glad you like it!
      Yes, it is frustrating for me to receiving drawings like that. Multiple copies, dimensions with scale factor, and objects are drawn not in full scale make us have to spend some times to understand it. It's getting worse when we need to modify it.