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Using Model Space Viewports in AutoCAD

There are two types of viewports in AutoCAD. Model Space viewports and Layout space viewports. Viewports are areas that display different views of your drawing and/or model. Layout viewports are objects that you can scale to display the view of your drawing on a layout tab for publishing and production. In model space, you can split the drawing area into one or more rectangular areas called model space viewports. Viewports are areas that display different views of your model. In large or complex drawings, displaying different views reduces the time needed to zoom or pan in a single view. You can configure these viewports from the View tab on the Ribbon as shown.

The illustrations below show several model space viewport configurations. You can save and restore viewport configurations by name with the VPORTS command or pulling down the Viewport Configuration from the ribbon as shown.

When you display multiple viewports, the one that is highlighted with a blue rectangle is called the current viewport – shown as 1 below. The remaining viewports will be displayed grayed out as for not used.

from Autodesk Help – these points describe the options you have when using model space viewports.

  1. Commands that control the view, such as panning and zooming, apply only to the current viewport.
  2. Commands that create or modify an object are started in the current viewport, but the results apply to the model and can be visible in other viewports.
  3. You can start a command in one viewport and finish it in a different viewport.
  4. You can make any viewport the current one by clicking in it.

You can modify the size, shape, and number of model space viewports in a viewport configuration:

  1. Choose from several viewport configurations by clicking the [+] or [-] control in the top-left corner of a viewport.
  2. Drag the boundaries of viewports to adjust their size.
  3. Press CTRL while dragging viewport boundaries to display the green splitter bar and create new viewports. Alternatively, you can drag the outermost splitter controls.
  4. Drag a viewport boundary onto another boundary to remove a viewport.

After you create a new viewport, you might want to maximize and center the view by double-clicking the mouse wheel to perform a zoom extents.

If you want to configure the viewports a certain way for your model move the sliders around until you get the desired configuration.  Under the  New name:  Enter the name of your viewport and it will appear in the Named Viewports section and be able to reuse throughout your drawing session.

Helpful tips using Annotative Text and Objects in AutoCAD

Annotation text objects in AutoCAD are used in drawings to determine text height or the overall scale of an annotation text object. An annotative object whether it be text or a block is set to a scale in model space at a particular paper height then when the viewport scale is changed the object changes its scale based off that factor.

If the annotative property of an annotation object is enabled, the text height or scale of the annotation object adjusts based on the current drawing annotation or layout viewport scale with the result that it will remain at the same size automatically.

Annotative Objects continue to be key learning component for many AutoCAD users. For Civil 3D users all our labels and styles are annotative which means the concept becomes more of a natural workflow.

There are two commands (one system variable) that I find helpful when working with Annotative objects. The first is the system variable SELECTIONANNODISPLAY.  This variable will control the “faded visibility” or multiple scales showing up when you select the text or object as shown below.

The default value is set at 1, change the system variable to 0 and your multiple annotative scales will not appear.

Many times we want to see those different object scales giving us the visual display to help determine if the location is correct at an alternate scale. If you want the text and/or leader to be pointing at the same spot in all places then you must reset the annotative object.  This can be controlled by Synchronizing Multiple-scale options as shown below.

  1. Select your object (text shown below)
  2. From the menu select Annotative Object Scale
  3. Select Synchronize Multiple-scale Positions.

This will reset the location of all the annotative scales to align with the current scale selected.


Attendance for Autodesk University 2020 is on-demand and FREE Nov 17-20.
I will be presenting 2 classes this year of which both include over 10 exercises and a full dataset for you to gain the knowledge you need to succeed.

Register today!
CES463390-L A Complete Guide to the Sheet Set Manager
CES463392 Improving Quality with the CAD Standards Manager in AutoCAD

Until next month or virtually at Autodesk University 2020.  Sam

Going Home with DesignCenter in AutoCAD

Many people I speak with have not used or forget about the power behind DesignCenter in AutoCAD. DesignCenter can be used to capture objects from template and drawing files and quickly drag into your current drawing file.  The key is setting the home button to the location of your standards and templates.

DesignCenter can be found on the View tab of the Ribbon under the palettes panel as shown. You can also type ADC or ADCENTER at the command prompt.

Many other capabilities are listed below and can be found in the Autodesk Help.

With Designcenter, you can

  1. Browse for drawing content such as drawings or symbol libraries on your computer, on a networked drive, and on a web page
  2. View definition tables for blocks and layers in any drawing file and then insert, attach, or copy and paste the definitions into the current drawing
  3. Update (redefine) a block definition
  4. Create shortcuts to drawings, folders, and Internet locations that you access frequently
  5. Add content such as xrefs, blocks, and hatches to a drawing
  6. Open drawing files in a new window
  7. Drag drawings, blocks, and hatches to a tool palette for convenient access
  8. Copy and paste content, such as layer definitions, layouts, and text styles between open drawings

One thing that is important is to set your HOME status on Designcenter to where your templates are or the files you need to locate.

To do this open designcenter (ADC) and look at the toolbar on the top and notice the home button.  First, navigate to your standards folder and follow these 3 steps.

  1. Locate your template folder in Designcenter.
  2. Right-click and select set as home.
  3. Put all of your template files in that folder for quick access

The next time you launch Designcenter, select the home button and you will be taken to the default location of your template and standard files.

Just a quick tip to help you make you more productive.

The schedule for #AU2020 was just announced and I’ll be recording two sessions! Check out my classes on Sheet Sets and CAD standards and consider attending my Q&A—registration is free!

Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones virtually in November at Autodesk University.

Stay safe and healthy, Sam

Launching the Windows Calculator from inside AutoCAD

AutoCAD and Civil 3D have a calculator built right into the programs, yet many people I talk to do not use the full functionality of these tools. The CAL and QuickCalc calculators use geometric functions, unit conversions, and variables in addition to the basic features found in scientific calculators. You can use both calculators transparently from commands and from the Properties palette to obtain geometric information. For a great description and video check out Civil Immersion blog for a recent post on the using the Calculator in AutoCAD.  For an article I wrote in AUGIWorld in December 2019 see this link:  Controlling your calculations in AutoCAD.

Do you still prefer to use the Windows calculator?  You can do that by editing the ACAD.PGP file. On the Express Tools tab under the Tools panel, select Command Aliases as shown below.

Next the Aliaseditor dialog box will appear and you can perform the following 5 functions to add your command.

  1. Move over to the Shell commands tab.
  2. Select Add.
  3. Add the information as shown below.
  4. Type WC at the command prompt in AutoCAD.
  5. The Windows Calculator will be displayed.

The following video will show you how this is accomplished in AutoCAD or Civil 3D.

Have a great weekend and stay safe – until next month.



Using Layers for Collaboration in AutoCAD and Civil 3D

I hope this post finds you and your family healthy and safe.  Now let’s talk about layers!  Last year I wrote an article in AUGIWorld on Using Layers for Collaboration. This post will highlight some of the features of that article.

Layers are a fundamental feature of AutoCAD, used to apply colors, linetypes, lineweights, transparency, as well as control plotting characteristics. Not using layers efficiently or placing everything on layer 0 will only cause rework and headaches for the next person working on your drawing. It is critical to understand layers and use all the tools within AutoCAD to your full advantage. 

Let’s start by examining how AutoCAD sorts layers. On the Home tab of the ribbon you will find the layer panel located within the center of the ribbon tab as shown in the image below. Open a drawing, select Layer Properties, and examine how the layers are sorted within the file.

The name of the layer can be the first step in controlling layers. By default, layers are sorted by name. If you give layers logical names, it becomes easier as drawings become more complicated. From the image below you can see the layers are sorted alphabetically starting with an “A” as the main descriptor. I added B and C to show how the layer sorts. You can select the name column to reverse the order as shown below.

The AutoCAD out-of-the-box template file does not include any layers, so you need to establish this standard on your own.  Have you ever looked at the layers provided within a Civil 3D® drawing file? The image below shows the layers that are provided within the Civil 3D Template.

The layers created in the Civil 3D templates follow the National CAD Standards Rules (NCS). The layers follow the National CAD Standards standards as follows, with each element separated by a dash.

Discipline Designation: Required; the AutoCAD Civil 3D templates use the C and V discipline designators, which stand for Civil and Survey/Mapping.  The discipline designator is one letter.

Major Group: Required; identifies elements such as roads, topographic elements, and storm sewers. To adhere to the standards, custom Major Group fields are not allowed.

Minor Group: Optional; identifies sub-elements such as road profiles. You can include up to two minor groups per layer name, and you can define your own custom Minor Groups. For example, the layer C-ANNO-TABL-TEXT has two Minor Groups: “TABL” and “TEXT,” both consisting of four letters.

Minor Group: Additional layer classes.

Status: There can also be a one letter status indicator on the end.

Managing Your Layers with Filters

There are two kinds of layer filters in AutoCAD.  These filters allow you to create named sets of layer selections involving many different disciplines. The two buttons shown above the filter section will navigate you to the correct filter as shown below.

To create a group filter, select the New Group Filter button in the filters list as shown and the filter will be added. Follow the steps below to create your group filter.

  1. Rename the filter to a logical name.
  2. Highlight all the layers you want to be in that group (they do not have to have the same properties or a common name).
  3. Drag the layers to the filter.

A more detailed way to stay organized is with a properties filter. Upon selecting this button, you have more flexibility based on the layer names you choose. In this example we are going to give a simple criterion—including all the layers with a prefix of A and then we are going to add all the layers with a prefix of V. Keep in mind you can use wildcards (*) after the character to include all the layers with those features as shown below.

After you add the letters with the wildcard, select OK and you can now view the layers in your properties filter as shown.

Select the links below to find helpful tips on using layers in AutoCAD.

Resetting a layer in AutoCAD with a Macro

Renaming a Group of Layers with Wildcards

Using the Layer Translator in AutoCAD

Change with width of the layer combo control bar

Finally, Autodesk University 2020 is going digital and it is FREE!  Please register and take time to connect and learn from your peers. For those of you who have been unable to attend this is your chance to get a look and feel for how the event is organized and how people teach and present. It is going to be fun!

Community voting is open!  My proposals are in and I have decided to do a little mix of AutoCAD and Civil 3D. Please vote if you feel that these classes could help you in your career. Search for the class or my name to get a description of the objectives to be covered.

CES463399 Harnessing the Power of COGO Points
CES463390-L A Complete Guide to the Sheet Set Manager
CES463392 Improving Quality with the CAD Standards Manager in AutoCAD
CES463396 Staying Productive with Plan and Production in Civil 3D
CES469005 Making your Move from AutoCAD to Civil 3D

Have a great weekend wherever in the World you may be.  Stay healthy and safe.


Create and modify profiles in AutoCAD

To begin, I hope you and your families are healthy and safe. This post is taken from my article in AUGIWord on profiles. I remember writing the post in a hotel lobby while on vacation and was very happy how it came out. Now let’s talk profiles in AutoCAD.

In many software programs such as Windows, a profile is saved under each login name, saving characteristics of the user environment and system settings. Depending on the login name used, you may have different setup configurations for your program or system by changing the settings while logged in. This concept is similar for CAD designers and operators using AutoCAD®. You can restore different settings from the Options dialog box in a profile and recall them at any time by switching profiles. 


Many AutoCAD users customize their startup options using ACADDOC.lsp, ACAD.lsp, or another LISP routine automatically loaded each time you use AutoCAD. You can also create a separate LISP file to add the code and place into your startup suite. 

Create the mymacro.lsp file (use notepad or a text editor and save as a .lsp file), use appload and add to your startup suite and your current profile will be displayed on the status bar as shown in the example below. A great way for CAD Managers to check to see if the company standard profile is located.

Example: MyMacro.lsp

;; Created for AUGIWorld.
;; This macro will display the current profile on the status bar
;; Load this file using the startup suite or placed in the acaddoc.lsp.
(setvar “modemacro”(strcat “PROFILE: $(getvar,cprofile)”))
;; end code

Create a Macro to Change Profiles

I typically use a white background for training and screen shots. When designing I use the black background. I wanted to be able to switch between the two quickly. The color of your screen background (and many other colors) are stored within the current profile in AutoCAD. Back to the Options tab we are going to move to the Profiles tab to look at our profile names. 

Next, we need enter the world of Visual Basic and look at the VBASTMT command. You can type this at the command prompt and you will be prompted to enter a Visual Basic Expression.

Note: You may first receive this message. Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications software (VBA) is no longer installed. For more information, visit  Navigate to the page to download VBA for AutoCAD. A Visual Basic statement is a complete instruction that can contain keywords, operators, variables, constants, and expressions. A statement generally occupies a single line, although you can use a colon (:) to include more than one statement on that line. VBA statements are executed in the context of the current drawing and can be loaded via a macro within a new command or on a tool palette.

The VBA command we are going to use will launch a macro to switch between your profiles. Create a command using the CUI or a new button on your tool palette and paste the code into either section. Note: your profiles must exist in your current AutoCAD session; therefore, you may need to import and/or create if they are new. 

I have two separate Screencasts to better illustrate this technique—one uses the tool palette as shown below and the other adding a custom button to your setup.

For our examples, the code is shown below:

1.    AUGIWorld

_VBASTMT ThisDrawing.Application.Preferences.Profiles.ActiveProfile = “AUGIWorld”;

2.    White Background

_VBASTMT ThisDrawing.Application.Preferences.Profiles.ActiveProfile = “White_Background”;

3.    Black Background

_VBASTMT ThisDrawing.Application.Preferences.Profiles.ActiveProfile = “Black_Background”;
AUGIWorld Profile

The image below is an example of how I added three new buttons to my tool palette and then changed the text string (i.e. White Background) to add to a custom palette to switch the macros. The images were simply created using the button editor, then saving out to a .bmp

Under each button, right-click and select Properties. Enter the VBA string to launch the profile you would like to switch. The example below shows us switching to the AUGIWorld.arg profile.

Do you want to learn how to load a file from the startup suite? See this post on the Autodesk Knowledge Network: Loading Lisp with Startup Suite in AutoCAD

Do you want to learn more about lisp for CAD Managers? Check out this Autodesk University class from  R. K. McSwain: As Many CAD Manager Tips As We Can Fit into a Single Hour 

Adding the profile to the modemacro system variable is a technique I have been using for many years. I also encourage you to look up Paul Munford’s Autodesk University class named  AutoCAD Tool Palettes Master Class (Planning and Preparation, Not Perspiration) In this class, Paul describes how to use LISP code for the modemacro system variable with and without macros.

A profile in AutoCAD can give you access to all your customized options in one place. Customizing profiles aligned with your current workflow and standards can prove to save time and increase productivity. Create several profiles, then export out to different names saving to a secure location. Profiles can help you retain and adjust settings to ensure that you stay competitive and up to date with the current standards and system variable changes that occur with your AutoCAD platform

Stay healthy and safe wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month – Sam

Tackling Tables in AutoCAD

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.


Creating an AutoCAD Linetype for Valentines Day

How about a Heart Linetype in AutoCAD for Valentines Day?

I wanted to post this again about linetypes in AutoCAD and how you can use the wingdings and webdings fonts to display shapes in AutoCAD linetypes. Let’s use the Heart symbol to illustrate a linetype suited for Valentines Day.

So you ask “Why would you want to draw a heart in AutoCAD?”

This post is not about the heart symbol but about special characters used to create a line type with a character symbol used in fonts.

This post focuses on how to create a custom linetype in AutoCAD incorporating already defined shapes via the Webdings font into your custom linetype. We are going to create a linetype using a heart shape. Keep in mind there are many different shapes within the Webdings and Wingdings fonts that are available for our use. These can easily be shared with your users providing a standard approach to linetypes.

Check out my video on how to create a Heart Shaped Linetype in AutoCAD for your favorite Valentine!

Copy and paste this code below into notepad and name the file Valentine.lin  Make sure you create the text style weblines or you will get a bad definition.

The semi colons are not recognized therefore you can add notes to you team members on what you created.

;; Linesanity is back again in 2020: CADproTips
;; to load the setting and configure the lines.
;; Create a text style named weblines and give it a 0 height and not annotative
*HEART,Happy Valentines Day

Two years ago at Autodesk University 2018 I presented a class on how to leverage linetypes in AutoCAD. Within the class we had objectives as shown.

Learn how to create custom linetypes using fonts and shapes

Learn how to create and compile a complex linetype library with shapes

Learn how to create a tool palette with custom linetypes loaded and properties defined

Select the image below to be taken to the presentation

Hope you had some fun with this and thought of some ways to make it productive as well.

Have a great weekend everyone wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month….Sam

Non-Breaking Space in Sheet Set Templates in AutoCAD and Civil 3D

What do I mean by a non-breaking space using a field in AutoCAD?  Entering data using fields in AutoCAD is an extremely efficient way to connect the data and keep consistent throughout your design project, especially when using Sheet Set Manager.  In my class at Autodesk University 2019 we explored Advanced topics using the Sheet Set Manager. This class was a hands-on-lab with 15 exercises and one of those was entering Sheet custom data into our sheet set template.

In word processing and digital typesetting, a non-breaking space, also called no-break space, non-breakable space, hard space, or fixed space, is a space character that prevents an automatic line break at its position. Within the SSM you can insert a non-breaking space which will give you the ability to have a cleaner output by inserting a blank field.

We are going to review exercise 3 from my Sheet Set class and a video of the non-breaking space. The virtual computers at Autodesk University would not allow us to enter the non-breaking space but we were able to use %% or %%U to capture the same effect. You can perform this same function with your standard company title block to provide consistency on your design projects.

Start AutoCAD and open up a Sheet Set that already contains a sheet within the set.

Right click on the Sheet Set Project  (AU2019_Project Header shown in the image below), then select properties from the fly out menu.

Select Edit Custom Properties on the lower left of the dialog box.

For this task we will add sheet custom properties. We are going to edit sheet custom properties by adding 01-Drawn by and 02-Checked by.  Why the 01 and 02?  AutoCAD will sort these fields alphabetically and in our title block we want to enter the drawn by first then the checked by. To do this use a numbering sequence to keep organized.

The area underlined above in RED is where you have options to enter a Non Breaking Space to replace the word VALUE.  If you leave this area blank you would think that you would get a blank space, instead you will get 4 dashed lines —- that will print in your title block. To enter a blank space you can use %% or %%U which enable a blank field, but we are going to use a key combination or ALT+0160 for a blank field.

Although I find the %%U and %% helpful since you can see the characters, I have found many people that prefer the blank space. The key is to press and hold down the ALT key while you type 0160. The 0160 code will insert a non-breaking space and appear blank when plotted as shown below.  You do need a keyboard with the number pad to perform this function. The video below will show you how to add these custom fields using the Sheet Set Manager and the non breaking space.

My friend Jeff Bartels posted on about this very same topic on  Civil Immersion Blog except using the %% as the blank space. Both ways will work effectively but I wanted to post about the ALT+0160 variable since we covered this in class at Autodesk University 2019.

Please visit  Civil Immersion Blog for an extensive amount of AutoCAD and Civil 3D training videos and information from Jeff, Jerry, and Alan.

Have a good rest of your weekend wherever in the World you may be…..until next month….Sam

Remove Layout1 and Layout2 tabs in AutoCAD

Do you every get annoyed by those default layout tabs in AutoCAD?  Why are they there? Can I remove them? I always instruct my users to rename the layout tabs (right-click-rename) to an appropriate name and/or remove if they are not used.  Here is a trick on how to remove those tabs using a macro placed on a tool palette.

The default setting in AutoCAD will display a Model Space Tab along with a Layout1 (1) and Layout2 (2) tabs as shown in the image below. The Model tab represents model space which is where you draft and design the model of your project. The Layout tab represents the paper space environment where you create layouts typically including title blocks, general notes, and a window of items drawn in model space.


First of all, you cannot delete the Model Tab; that is default by AutoCAD and used to create your model or geometry. The Layout tabs are paper space tabs added by default to assist you as you begin your project. When adding a new drawing or a template (3) you may see the following appear with Layout1 and Layout2 still visible. We want to delete those but do it quickly. You can select the image for additional information on switching between the Model Space and Layout tabs.


To delete a layout tab manually you right click the layout and select delete. That’s a lot of picks and clicks. Notice all of the options included when you right-click. You can rename, create a new layout, insert a new layout from a template (HINT: does not have to be a .dwt file). Select the image below to be taken to a knowledge based article on importing layouts from a template. I like clean drawings and require my users to delete these tabs, rename, and cleanup while on a design project.


Let’s create a macro to remove those tabs and cleanup your drawings. The easiest way for us to create and use a macro is on a tool palette. Open up any tool palette right click in the palette area and hit New Palette as shown. This will bring up a new blank palette in AutoCAD.


Next, we need to get a command in there. There are a few ways to do this but in my experience type CUI at the command prompt and type the word “delete” (Step 1). I want to look for a command which I can also use the icon (or edit) so it represents something similar to what I am trying to accomplish. Left click and drag the command (Step 2) onto the tool palette as shown. At this point we are just getting the command in there with the images.


After the command has been added to the palette, right click the icon and select properties. We are now going to complete 5 steps as shown below. Actually only 4 since we already have our image in there.

  1. Drag the command from the CUI onto the tool palette.
  2. Rename the name of the command for the user to understand the objective.
  3. Give a brief description of what the command does. PLEASE give a description, it helps for the next guy or gal that goes in there and launches your new command.
  4. The most important step.  We need to change the MACRO.  We will review in detail below.
  5. The image. If you did not import an image from the CUI or another button you can right-click and specify your own image. Keep in mind there is a dark and light theme in AutoCAD which means you need to check the appearance of the image for both. I know, one extra step now but I do like the dark theme.


In AutoCAD macros can be shortcuts to a series of commands to help make the process of design more efficient. In Figure 1 a macro is stated as a single instruction. Use the action recorder to record a series of commands and build a macro then run it automatically to repeat a series of steps. To write a macro, you type the commands in the macro properties section as you’d type them in at the command line. If a command displays a dialog box, you would place a dash in front of the command to suppress the dialog box. We will cover special characters as we begin to build our macro. Let’s examine our Delete Layout Macro.


^C^C  Cancels the current command in AutoCAD – Do it twice!

^R    Turns command versioning on or off. We need this when working with Layouts.

_Layout   Issues the layout command.

;   The semi-colon represents a return on the keyboard. You can also enter a space here but I recommend the semi-colon which you can clearly identity the action.

d   Delete the layout.

_Layout1  Deletes Layout1

The macro then continues to delete another layout named layout2. If you only have layout1 in your drawing it will be deleted and no other action will be taken.  The following ScreenCast will show you how this command works, the video is from a previous version of AutoCAD but will still work with the most current version.

It’s goal setting time at work and in my opinion never too early to set a goal to attend Autodesk University 2020 in November of this year.Set a goal that if you meet all of your targets for the year you would like to attend the premier CAD conference in the World. You company may reward you with the ability to learn and network with your peers and create new connections along they way – like me 🙂

Until next time…..Have a great weekend….Sam