Using template will increase your productivity. We are not just talking about AutoCAD, but also Revit, Inventor, and any other software like Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. In this tutorial, we are going to prepare our template, save it, and a little configuration to tell AutoCAD to use it each time we create a new file.
So What is a Template and Why Using It?
Template is a file you use to start a drawing (or any other documents). By default, almost every software provide it. But the default that comes with the box usually only provide very basic configuration. And mostly don’t meet your criteria.
When you started AutoCAD, by default it will use acad.dwt. It holds minimum information you need to create a proper drawing. It use inch as units. For me who use metric units, I have to change it to mm. Then I have to do this following things:
- Create layers and set their properties.
- Create styles for text, dimensions, and other annotation.
- Setup my layout for plotting
- I don’t usually do this, but I saw some users create block symbols. I prefer to keep them in a block library.
- Then I start drawing
Imagine that I have to do that steps each time I start a new drawing. How many hours that I waste in a month? In a year? Wouldn’t it be nice when we start our drawing, we start directly from point no. 5? That’s what a template for. We set our common settings and styles.
Create a new file. Use file menu or type NEW [enter]. DO NOT use new icon from quick access toolbar. Using file>new or typing NEW will load a dialog box to select a dwt file. If you use icon from quick access, it won’t open. AutoCAD template has .dwt file extension.
Now for this tutorial, find a metric template. You can also try to use imperial later.
Layers is one of the basic configurations. We will add some layers to this file. Remember the file we created before? The one that contain walls, columns, doors, and centerlines? We will import layers from that file. Check on your layer manager, by default it only contains layer 0. If you see other layers, just remember it.
Open design center. You can click on ribbon>view tab >palettes. Or simply type ADCENTER [enter].
Design center is basically looks like explorer. Find your file. In windows explorer you can expand until file name, but in Design Center, you can see what’s inside an AutoCAD file: layers, dim styles, etc. Click on layers, select all layers you created before. Drag and drop to your drawing area.
Now check in your layer list. Is it already there? :)
Preparing Dimension Styles and Table Styles
I’m not going to write in details how to define a dimension style or table style. If you are new to AutoCAD and interested to know, I can write it in separate post. But I believe many of you who read this already familiar with dimension styles and table styles.
- Create a dimension style. We are going to create a plan to be plotted at 1:50 scale. So create a style with name ‘1-50 scale’ with arrow size and text height 150, and offset from dimline with 40 unit distance. Create another one with scale 1:100. Give it arrow size and text height 300, and ‘offset from dimline’ with 80. If you have other common scales to use, create it too.
- Create a table style for 1:50 scale. Give it text height 150 and margin 50.
Set the new styles for 1:50 for both dimension and table as current.
Preparing Our Layout
The last common setting we are going to set it Layout/Page. You can refer to this post on how to do it. Create several page setup for most common paper size you use. I created 1:50 and 1:100 in this example.
Save your file as .dwt.
Setting Our Default .dwt file
We are almost done! The last thing we need to setup is telling AutoCAD to use our new .dwt file. There are several ways to do this. You have to remember that AutoCAD use default acad.dwt every time it’s started. You can select default template for QNEW command, but not working if you started AutoCAD. I don’t know if there’s a work around, but honestly I can’t find it in older version. Share it if you know how to do it. So, we can set it by doing this:
Use STARTUP menu:
Set STARTUP system variable to 1. This will load a dialog box that allows you to choose which template you wanted.
This was a default in older AutoCAD. I don’t know why Autodesk decided to change this system variable to 0 by default. This is a good choice if you have many templates to choose before you started to draw. This work for all version. Well at least I use it since AutoCAD R.14. I don’t know if they have it in older version.
Alternatively, you can do this to:
AutoCAD 2009 or Older
Backup your acad.dwt. Place the file we created in default template folder, and rename it to acad.dwt.
AutoCAD 2010 or newer
Go to option, user preference tab. Click on Initial Setup button. You will see a wizard that allows you to choose your industry (page 1), your workspace (page 2) and your default dwt file (page 3). See the explanation about initial setup on CAD-a-blog here.
Setup default dwt for QNEW
The last one, set your default template for QNEW. If you type QNEW or select new from quick access toolbar, this is the dwt file AutoCAD will use. You can find it in option, files tab. It’s under template settings.
Now we’re done!
Testing our Template
Try to create a new file, and see your layer list, dimension styles, table styles, and layouts! Try to exit AutoCAD and restart it, and see if it also works.