Are you getting the look you need for your dimensions? Are you constantly making little adjustments? If dimensions aren’t your friend, you need to get more comfortable with dimension styles.
In this tutorial, you create an architectural dimension style. Why? Because the default style is a mechanical look and by changing it to architectural, you’ll get a chance to work with many of the dimension style features.
Note: The values that I chose in this tutorial are my choices. They don’t come from any standard; you should follow the standards in your office or discipline.
Follow these steps:
Open any architectural drawing. If you don’t have one, open a new drawing and choose Format > Units. Change the units to architectural. Draw a rectangle 40′ wide by 30′ high and zoom to its extents. Zoom out a little more so you have room for your dimensions.
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If you’re starting with a new drawing, create a new layer, named dim and make it a different color from your rectangle. Set it current. Make sure that OSNAP is on with a running object snap for endpoints.
Choose Dimension > Dimension Style or click Dimension Style on the Dimension toolbar to open the Dimension Style Manager.
Click New. In the Create New Dimension Style dialog box, enter arch_96 and click Continue. The 96 refers to the scale that we’ll use later.
Note: We won’t use it now, but click the Use For drop-down list. You can see that you can create a style that applies only to a certain type of dimension. For example, you may want angular dimensions to have open arrows but the rest of your dimensions to use architectural ticks. So you could create a dimension style just for angular dimensions.
The New Dimension Style: arch_96 dialog box opens. Click the Lines tab.
Note: In the Dimension Lines section, you can make the dimension line’s color, linetype, and ineweight different from the rest of the dimension. We’ll leave it the same, which is more typical.
Note that the Extend Beyond Ticks box is grayed out. That’s because you don’t have architectural ticks (and I hope you don’t have any other kind either). To create the ticks, click the Symbols and Arrows tab. In the Arrowheads section, choose Architectural tick from the First drop-down list. The Second drop-down list follows suit automatically. Choose Open from the Leader drop-down list. The arrow size should be 3/16″.
Click the Lines tab again. Set the Extend Beyond Ticks value to 1/16″.
Leave the Baseline Spacing value at 3/8″. This is the spacing between the dimension lines of two baseline dimensions.
Note: You can suppress the first or second dimension line. These are the lines to the left or right of the text. As you’ll see later, architectural dimensions only have one dimension line, so this doesn’t apply to us.
In the Extension Lines section, you can change the color, linetype, and lineweight of the extension lines. We’ll leave them unchanged.
Note: You can also suppress the first or second extension line. Normally, you would do this only for a special situation where an extension line doesn’t fit well. You would create an override to a dimension style for this purpose. (That’s for another tip!)
Change the Extend Beyond Dim Lines value to 1/8″. This is the amount that the extension lines extend beyond the dimension lines.
Change the Offset from Origin value to 1/8″. This is the distance from the object you’re dimensions to the extension line.
Click the Symbols and Arrows tab, just to see what’s there. (Before Release 2006, you’ll have one tab called Lines and Arrows.) You’ve already change the arrowhead. The rest of this tab is for center marks, arcs, and radial dimensions, which don’t concern us, so click the Text tab.
The first step is to choose a text style. If you don’t already have one, you can create it now. Click the Ellipsis button to the right of the Text Style drop-down list.
In the Text Style dialog box, click New. Name the style dimtext_96 and click OK.
In the Text Style dialog box, choose a font from the Font Name drop-down list. Architects like a font that looks hand-drawn. I chose Stylus BT. If you don’t have that on your system, choose another one. The important point is to keep the Height at 0′-0″ because that allows the height in the dimension style to take precedence. Click Apply and click Close.
Back in the New Dimension Style: arch_96 dialog box, choose dimtext_96 from the Text Style drop-down list. You can change the color of the text and also place a fill box around the text (for legibility over other objects), but we’ll leave these the same. The text height should be 3/16″. Note that the Fraction Height Scale text box is grayed out. We’ll come back to that later.
In the Text Placement section, choose Above from the Vertical drop-down list.
In the Text Alignment section, choose Aligned with Dimension Line. Notice how the preview changes dramatically and starts to look like an architectural dimension.
Click the Fit tab. This tab specifies how lines and arrows fit, especially if there isn’t enough room. You also set the scale here.
In the Text Placement section, choose Over Dimension Line, with Leader.
In the Fine Tuning section, check the Draw Dim Line Between Ext Lines so that even if the text can’t fit between the extension lines, there’s still a dimension line.
In the Scale for Dimensions section, change the scale to 96. Of course, this value depends on the size of your model and the size of the paper you’ll be using. You would use the Scale Dimension to Layout option for dimensioning in paper space on a layout. See my tip Dimension in paper space.
Click the Primary Units tab. From the Unit Format drop-down list, choose Architectural. Leave the precision as 1/16″.
From the Fraction Format drop-down list, choose Diagonal.
In the Zero Suppression section, uncheck the 0 Inches check box to show 0 inches.
Now click the Text tab and change the Fraction Height Scale value to .75. (You can’t do this until you’ve specified a unit format that uses fractions.
If you want to include alternate units, such as metric (if you’re main units are Imperial), use the Alternate Units tab.
In the Dimension Style Manager, with arch_96 selected, click Set Current and click Close. You’re now ready to dimension.
Choose Dimension > Linear or click Linear on the Dimension toolbar. Press Enter so you can select an object. Pick any side of the rectangle (or any object in your pre-existing drawing, if you opened one). Specify a location for the dimension line, leaving room for the text.