Improving Quality with the CAD Standards Manager in AutoCAD

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Whether you're a CAD drafter, CAD designer, or CAD manager, I bet it’s safe to say you've heard the words, “You have to follow the company standards!” What if there was an easy way to help guide you along; a way to help you get comfortable with a new release of software or comply with a new set of rules that have been put in place. The CAD Standards Manager in AutoCAD has been around since release 9, but in my experience, is rarely used. Take note of these tips as we dig deep into the Standards Manager and illustrate how you can implement this important tool to help you standardize your drawings and designs, making it easy to create a uniform standardized product for your organization. 

Exercise 1: Creating a Standards File

On the Manage tab of the ribbon there is a panel named CAD Standards. The first thing we need to do is set up a standards template or templates. (You do not have to have it all in one file.) By setting up the template you will be able to check and apply the standards provided in the template to your noncompliant drawings or convert drawings provided by others to your company standards. Within the template we will define text styles, layers, dimension styles and linetypes that are commonly used in all drawings. To begin, we are simply going to start a new drawing and add our standards to that file, then save that file to a standards file as shown below.

1. Open AutoCAD and create a new drawing. Name it MY_COMPANY_STANDARD.dwg and save in the Exercise 1 folder as shown below.


We are now going to add all of our Standard Layers, Text Styles, Linetypes, and Dimension styles to this drawing. Save the file to a secure location on your network where you can find it--this would typically be a CAD Standards folder where you may place your CAD Standards Manual. At this time we are just saving the drawing file and not the Standards file (DWS). We want to continue to work with the drawing file and also have that as a backup as we begin to create our standard template.

Note: You can also break this file up into different standards files as long as they have the DWS extension. Make one standards file or as many as you like to reflect the different disciplines of work. You could have three different standards files, one for your general company standards, another for a company standard detail, and finally one for civil drawings.

Related: Developing CAD Standards: A Complete Guide with Curt Moreno

Adding Layers to Your Standards File

1. From the layers panel of the Ribbon pull down the layer state button as shown and select Manage Layer States.


2. Select Import from the dialog box.

3. Move to the Exercise 1 folder and select the Standard layers.las and choose open.

This file is a layer states file created from our standard drawing. This will give us the ability to import all of our standard layers into our drawing quickly. Another way to accomplish this is to use Designcenter (ADC).


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4. The following dialog box will appear. Select Restore states.


5. Type Layer at the command prompt and notice you now have a standard set of layers into the drawing file that you have saved to My Company Standard.


6. Save your drawing file.


Adding Text Styles to Your Standards File

1. Next up is text styles. We need to make sure we have the correct text styles in there prior to loading any text-based linetypes. This will save us a step. Create the following text styles in AutoCAD. We only have one annotative style in there for this example and keep all at a 0 height for this example. Pay particularly close attention to the AU-SHP and AU-STD text styles. These are the styles that will control the display of our standard linetypes.

2. Create the AU-STD style and follow the steps shown. We do not want to make this annotative or give it a height as the text height is defined within the linetype. Use the ltscale system variable to change the size of a font in a linetype.


3. Cancel out of this command and type Style at the command prompt again.

4. Create a new text style named AU-SHP. This style will use the wingdings font as our standard text. We are creating a linetype with special characters defining a shape.


5. Lastly, create one more lineytpe named AU-Anno and make the linetype annotative.


6. You now have your text styles added to your Company standards drawing.

Adding Linetypes to Your Standards File

1. Staying in our current drawing with our text styles set, type LT or linetype at the command prompt.

2. Select Load from the dialog box.


3. Select File.


4. Navigate to the Linetype folder (1) and select the AU standard linetype file (2). In most companies there will be a standard linetype file that you can add to your standard. This linetype file contains examples of font style linetypes using the style name that we created in our standard.


5. Right click on one of the linetypes and then Select All.


6. Select OK to load all of your standard linetypes into your standard drawing file.


Adding Multileaders to Your Standards File

The CAD Standards dialog has now been enhanced to include multileader styles, to help enforce and support standards checking for multileader styles.

Note: This improvement is not available in the AutoCAD LT 2020.1 update.

1. Type ADC at the command prompt to bring up Designcernter.

2. Navigate to our project folder as shown and expand the folder; then check the multileader section.


3. Double click the multileader section and then select Multileaderstyles within the drawing.


4. Drag and drop all of the multileaders within the right window into your standard file.

5. You now have all of your multileaders in your company standard.


6. Type MLEADERSTYLE at the command prompt to bring up the Multileader style manager.

Adding Dimensions to Your Standards File

1. Keep working in the company standards drawing file.

2. Type ddim at the command prompt to bring up the dimension style manager and select New.


3. Create a new dimension style starting with Standard and name it AU-DIM.


4. Create a second dimensions style and name it AU-DIM-Anno and make it annotative.


5. These two dimension styles will represent our standards and now have been included within our CAD Standards drawing.


Want more? Download the full class handout to read on.

Sam is a design systems administrator with CHA Consulting, Inc. Sam has over 25 years of experience in CAD drafting and design, CAD standards, CAD customization, and training programs using Autodesk software. Sam presents learning sessions and workshops on CAD productivity to managers and users while providing support on architectural, civil, mechanical, and structural design projects. I am the owner and operator of, an Autodesk Expert Elite member and certified in AutoCAD and Civil 3D. My goal is to provide you the CAD knowledge you need to succeed.