How to create PDF from AutoCAD drawings

Somehow I got many questions about creating PDF from AutoCAD drawings. From DWG to PDF. I’m not sure why suddenly many people are trying to create PDF files this week.

So how do we do this?

Create PDF

There are several methods that you can do in AutoCAD. Let’s see each of them.

Using plot command

The basic method is by using plot command. You can plot your drawing just like you plot to paper. If you are already familiar with plotting, then this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

All you need to do is to change your plotter to DWG to PDF.pc3. If you don’t see this plotter in your plotter list, you can add DWG to PDF plotter manually using this method.


AutoCAD will ask you for file name after you click OK.

Because this is similar to plotting, you only can plot to 1 PDF sheet at a time. You can’t create a multi-sheet PDF using this method.


EXPORTPDF options are similar to plotting. The difference is, using this method you can plot all layouts in a drawing file to multi-sheet PDF. You also have option to create multiple PDF with single sheet or single PDF with multi-sheet inside it.

You don’t have to repeatedly plot your layouts.

  1. If you want to create PDF from model space, you need to activate the command in model space. But this only allow you to create single sheet PDF, just like plot method.
  2. If you activate the command in paper space, then you have option to export current layout only OR export all layouts in your drawing.


Using publish command

The last method is using publish command. Publish command allows you to plot many of your drawing sheets at once. It also allows you to plot to PDF.

The difference with using EXPORTPDF is you can create multi-sheet PDF from several drawing files. EXPORTPDF only allows you to create PDF from single file, multiple layout.

Publish command can be initiated application menu or typing PUBLISH then [enter] at command line.

If you are using Sheet Set, you can also publish your entire sheet set or selected subset by using contextual menu.


To sum up

You can choose one of above methods that work best for your situation.

  1. If you only need to create a single sheet PDF, you can just use plot or print command.
  2. If you need to create a multiple sheets PDF from a DWG file, you can use EXPORTPDF. Remember, it can only export multiple sheets if you have multiple layouts.
  3. If you need to create a multiple sheets PDF from several DWG files or sheet sets, you can use PUBLISH command. You have more options when working with publish. For example, it allows you to choose which layouts from a file to plot. EXPORTPDF only allow you to plot current or all layouts.

So which is your favorite method?

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  1. Tyler says

    I have a multiple-sheet DWG and am trying the EXPORTPDF command. “Type” under “Options” is set to “Multi-sheet File” but the resulting PDF file will still only show a single sheet (whichever one is active when I perform the command). Do you know what is wrong?

  2. LionelMessi says

    I am having a problem while plotting in Auto Cad 2014 whenever I plot to pdf my dimensions never show up in the final pdf. Any help would be appreciated I have been looking for a fix on this problem for the last 4 days.


  3. says

    Thank you a lot for the interesting post and site.

    I have two questions :

    it’S possible to :

    1 – With ExportPDF, save automatically to a specified folder, without open the save window

    2 – With the plot option, with DWG To PDF.pc3 can I plot to the default printer and to the file ?

    Thanks you.

  4. Paolo says

    i’m trying to publish multiple layouts but i gives me an error that saids:

    “ERROR: The plotters folder is read-only, Unable to create custom paper size.

    ERROR: The Plotters directory is readonly and must be writable to make custom paper sizes.

    ERROR: Unable to create the requested media size as a custom size. ”

    can you help me?

    thanks in advaced

      • Doug says

        Hi Edwin – Sorry this is off current topic… but..
        In Raster Autocad 2013, I need to create a Tiff and pdf from the current cad drawing and write them out to a Windows folder. Is there any way to do this with say a button which ran some kind of maco so that the user can’t do something wrong? I really appreciate the help! I can see where one could do this manually, but sure would like to automate it as much as possible.

  5. Paul Iredale says

    Many thanks for an excellent CAD help desk.

    I’m trying to publish multiple DWG layouts to a single PDF as per your ‘Publish Command’ instructions, unfortunately the PDF is retaining the pen assignment colours. Is there a method for creating black and white PDF’s.
    As you will gather I’m not too hot on IT issues so any help would be much appreciated.

  6. Mike Walsh says

    We are in the process of creating AutoCAD 2014 files that we want a graphics art sign-banner company to be able to use. They tell us it is best if we can get the files in a "PDF Vector" format. Is there a trick to making sure that the PDF is not just pdf rastor? At this point we are thinking about exporting the dwg into 3DS Max Design 2014 & then saving as an Adobe Illustrated "ai" file but are concerned if this will work to retain the vector attributes. They cannot use dwg themselves but can use Adobe Illustrated "ai" files which are supposedly vector for their Adobe Illustrated Pro Software.