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Creating Arrows with a Polyline in AutoCAD

January 16, 2016

Polylines in AutoCAD can be a very effective tool when trying to label or highlight areas of a drawing. A polyline is a connected sequence of line segments created as a single object or line that can contain a width. You can create straight line segments, arc segments, or a combination of the two. What if you wanted to create an arrow using one polyline by simply changing the width of the polyline as you create the arrow? From the Home tab, Draw panel on the ribbon select Polyline as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Polyline command on the Ribbon


Start the polyline command and select a start point. Enter W for the width option, then enter 0 (zero) as the starting width value. This variable retains the most recent polyline width. Next you will be prompted for an ending width which we will enter the value of 5 (five) as shown below in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Enter Start and End Width


Turn on ortho (F8) as you move your cursor and see how you can adjust the length of the arrow as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Stretch the polyline to form an Arrowhead


Hit Enter when you have your desired size and the polyline segment will end. To continue a new segment of the polyline (the tail of the arrow) type w for width and change that to 2. AutoCAD will continue the polyline at the new width as shown in Figure 2. Hit enter to end the segment and type A to change to an arc and complete your polyline as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Continue the Polyline changing the width to a constant 2


Let’s try one more. We will create a polyline making the starting width and ending width the same length with some width changes in the middle to depict an arrow. At the command prompt type polyline or select from the ribbon as shown in Figure 1. Start the polyline the same way, a beginning width of 0 and ending width of 5. After the arrowhead is created; continue the command  by typing  2 for the starting width and 5 for the ending width (we want the same size as the second width) and drag the polyline to your desired length as shown in Figure 5. Hit Enter when you are complete.

Figure 5: Creating an Arrowhead with a trailing arrow


You can use this technique when labeling or defining areas of your drawing. The polyline command can give you a little more flexibility to label important items within your drawing that may not be displayed properly with just a leader and lineweight. Take a look at the following video to help describe the actions shown above.

Happy New Year to all!. I hope you all are having a good start to 2016.



From → CAD Tips

  1. Mohamed farouk permalink

    Why the poly line not hatched when I change the start segment width? It should be hatched . I don’t know what is the problem

  2. M.Ravindramanikandan permalink

    Thanks for your help

  3. I no longer have AutoCAD 2007 but I believe you can change the width of a polyline in that version.

  4. ricardo teng permalink

    Is this applcable to autocad 2007? I’ve tried it on acad 2007 but it wor’t. I appreciate your advise.

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