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Tackling Tables in AutoCAD

April 19, 2020

A lot has changed in the World in the last couple months. I just want to say I hope this post finds you and your loved ones healthy and well. With all the changes occurring from working remote to reduced hours comes difficulty in staying healthy both mentally and physically. One way to take advantage of your home time is continue to learn and grow as a professional.

Let’s talk about tables in AutoCAD. One of my favorite articles I wrote was “Tackling Tables in AutoCAD” published in AUGIWorld. A table in AutoCAD is a compound object that contains data in rows and columns. The table command can be launched from the ribbon under the Annotation panel as shown below or by typing Table at the command prompt.

Table Properties

Tables can be defined by a table style, which presets many of the table characteristics. AutoCAD Tables can be formatted by selecting any of the rows and cells and modifying them to meet your company standards or a client-specified request.  Let’s explore the tables and some of the different approaches we can use to become more efficient with AutoCAD. Once you start the table command, the Insert Table dialog box will appear as shown below. On the left side of the dialog box you will see a preview of how the current table style will look (i.e., Standard style).

Click on the image to be taken to a video on how to insert a table in AutoCAD

Under the Insert Options section we have three options as shown below.

  1. Start from an Empty Table: Use this option when you want to manually enter data. If you start from an empty table, you will retain the default values for rows and columns and the table will be inserted at the top right of the drawing.
  2. From a data link: This option gives you the ability to create a table from an Excel spreadsheet or a comma-delineated (.csv) file.
  3. From object data in the drawing: This option gives you the ability to create a table from objects in the drawing.

We are going to start by just entering an empty table as in Step 1 and review the properties of the table. After inserting the table and selecting a cell, the contextual ribbon Table Cell will appear as shown below. This is where you can make changes to your existing table. When you select a single cell as shown you can perform several functions including modifying the data, locking and unlocking, and insert blocks and fields. You can also access all the options by performing a right-click on the cell to bring up the shortcut menu.

Click on the image to be taken to a video on how to modify table options.

We can modify the cell size by selecting the grips as shown in the above figure and represented by the numbers.

  1. Use this grip (on the right as well) to modify the width of the cell.
  2. Use these grips to modify the height of the cell.
  3. Use this grip to increment the value of a cell automatically; right-click and the following menu will appear.

Table Linework

Under the Cell Styles panel of the Table Cell contextual ribbon you will find the edit borders section. This properties dialog box will help you define the characteristics of your lines within the table.

Upon selecting Edit Borders you will have the Cell Border Properties dialog box where you can define the linetypes and their properties of the cells within your table in six steps.

  1. This defines the lineweight of your table cell. You must have the lineweight set then select the border lines (red arrow) as to where you want the property to take place.  Note: Your change will NOT appear in the preview box; you will have to move back out to AutoCAD and turn your lineweight on to see the change.
  2. Set the Linetype.
  3. Set the Color.
  4. Yes, you can have a double line.
  5. Spacing of the cells and lines.
  6. Preview button is where you assign the properties of the individual line segments. For example, say you only want the bottom line to be a bold line—this is where you can modify that property.

Select the Cell Border Properties Image to be taken to a video demonstration on this topic.

  1. This defines the lineweight of your table cell. You must have the lineweight set then select the border lines (red arrow) as to where you want the property to take place.  Note: Your change will NOT appear in the preview box; you will have to move back out to AutoCAD and turn your lineweight on to see the change.
  2. Set the Linetype.
  3. Set the Color.
  4. Yes, you can have a double line.
  5. Spacing of the cells and lines.
  6. Preview button is where you assign the properties of the individual line segments. For example, say you only want the bottom line to be a bold line—this is where you can modify that property.

Creating a Legend Table

We are going to take what we have learned with Cell Styles and Borders and create a legend table which will contain our block symbols and a description. The power of this feature is that all your blocks and text will be aligned at the same location.  The following image shows a base map with four typical symbols that are labeled with fields.

You can perform this in paper space or model space. Move to your standard legend area and select a table with two columns (one for the symbol and one for the description) and four rows (identifying the four symbols we have in our drawing). Once your table is in your drawing select the first cell under the main header cell as shown below.

Click on the image to be taken to a video demonstration on how to create a legend with a table.

Follow the steps below to add your block to the table cell.

  1. Select and highlight the cell where you want your block to be placed. This will bring up the Table Cell contextual ribbon.
  2. Select Block from the ribbon.
  3. Select your block.
  4. Turn AutoFit off.  We want to be able to control the size of our symbol, keeping them all consistent. This is good because most legend items are not the same size.

Our table should look like what is shown in Figure 9. Note: I have added the title legend and the words recovery well location for our description. Use standard text tools and justification to get the text to appear the way you want. For the legend I used a top left justification, bold text, and underline. For the description use the middle left and a standard text.  Use the Autofill setting to copy the symbols and text to the remaining three sections. Change the symbols by selecting the cell and changing the block.

After copying all the symbols and editing the text, your final legend table should look like the left portion of Figure 10.

Let’s review the three steps to complete our legend table.

  1. Insert the blocks into the cell and create a proportional size (be consistent).
  2. Enter the descriptions of the symbol for your legend.
  3. Important!  Turn all the borders off. This way they will not print, and all of your symbols and text will be perfectly aligned in your legend.

Creating a Table with Fields

Another great function of tables is the ability to add formulas and field data. In this example we are going to use a table to display the square footage of three separate areas and then total them up all in one table. We have three areas in our drawing that are enclosed with a single object—in this case a polyline.

Insert your table into your drawing with the header, four rows, and two columns. Enter the title and the three areas as shown below. Next, we are going to follow steps 1 and 2.

  1. Select your Table Cell for the area.
  2. Select Field from the Table Cell contextual ribbon.

From the field dialog box, we are going to go through five options as shown below.

  1. Move the field category to object.
  2. Select the button and you will be taken back out to AutoCAD to select your object. Select the Area 1 polyline.
  3. Select Area from the Property window.
  4. Select your preferred units.  Note: there are additional formatting options available here for adding a prefix, suffix, or additional mathematical expressions for control of your output.
  5. Select OK and your field will be added to the table.

Continue to add the areas 2 and 3.  When complete, select the TOTAL cell and perform the sum function. Select formula, then Sum. You will now window select the three cells to total (shown in red) and hit enter. The sum of Areas 1 through 3 are now displayed in the table.

Click on the image for a demonstration on this topic

Tables are an extremely powerful way to capture and display data within a drawing. Use tables for organizing your data and becoming more efficient by displaying the properties of objects and geometry within your designs. Take what I have shown and delve into the properties of tables and how they can help you become more efficient and productive within your daily design activities.

Autodesk Certification

Did you know you can become Autodesk Certified from your home office?  Check out the requirements and just be sure to make sure you are in a room alone and with a webcam so the exam can be proctored.  Oh, and log in early! that is important you will have to go through some extensive checks to ensure you are following all the rules – including cleaning up your home office area.

Stay healthy and be safe – until next month.

Sam

From → AutoCAD, CAD Tips

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