AutoCAD Tutorial

CAD Standards in AutoCAD 2004

By Alireza Parsai, April 8, 2003

Using standards is an effective method to make CAD drawings consistent. The standards may define layers, layouts, dimension styles, text styles, linetypes, etc. AutoCAD template files are capable of establishing standards. Later you can distribute the proper template files to your draftspersons and subcontractors.

As an ideal model everything is fine. But actually your drafters or subcontractors may violate the standards. For instance they may define new layers, change the specifications of dimension styles, and so on. CAD standards tools can distinguish and control violations from the standards.

The CAD standards feature was first presented in AutoCAD 2002. In the latest release of AutoCAD you can find it with some enhancements. You can check standards for layers, dimension styles, linetypes, and text styles.

You need to associate at least one standard file to a drawing to be able to check the standards violations. The file name extension for standard files is .dws.

To create a standards file:

1. Create or open a drawing or template file.

2. Make proper settings to layers, linetypes, dimension styles, and text styles.

3. Invoke SAVEAS command and save the file as a .dws file. You should select "AutoCAD Drawing Standards (.dws)" in Files of Type drop-down list [Figure 1].

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge)

The following tutorial is a practical approach to the use of CAD standards. Here you first associate an existing standards file to a drawing and then check the standards violations. Users of AutoCAD 2002 should consider the notes at the bottom of this article.

Tutorial (AutoCAD 2004)

1. Download the following files. Copy the files in a folder that you can easily locate.


2. Start AutoCAD 2004.

3. Open AC04-Plan.dwg [Figure 2]. The file contains some standards violations.

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge)

4. Right-click on one of the toolbars. In the shortcut menu select CAD Standards. The CAD Standards toolbar appears [Figure 3].

Figure 3

5. Click the first button to the left (Configure Standards). The Configure Standards dialog box appears [Figure 4].

Figure 4 (Click on image to enlarge)

6. Click the + button to add a standard file.

7. In Select Standards File dialog box locate and open AC04-Plan.dws.

8. Click Plug-ins tab. The standards file is able to check standards for dimension styles, layers, linetypes, and text styles [Figure 5].

Figure 5 (Click on image to enlarge)

9. Deselect all the options except Layers. The standards file will be used to control layers only.

10. Click OK. An indicator appears on the status bar tray. It shows that at least one standards file is associated with the current file [Figure 6].

Figure 6

11. On the CAD Standards toolbar click the second button (Check Standards). The Check Standards dialog box appears [Figure 7].

Figure 7

12. The first problem shows a non-standard layer name. It indicates that a layer called Extra does not exist in the .dws file. In the replace with list select layer 0 and then click Fix.

13. The "Checking Complete" dialog box appears on screen [Figure 8]. Click OK.

Figure 8

14. Click Close.

15. Invoke the LAYER command to view Layer Properties Manager dialog box [Figure 9].

Figure 9 (Click on image to enlarge)

16. Alter the color of "walls" layer to green. Click OK.

17. A note appears on the Standards indicator [Figure 10]. You may view a dialog box instead of the note.

Figure 10

18. Click Run Check Standards.

19. Fix the problem and close the dialog boxes.

20. On CAD Standards toolbar click Configure Standards button.

21. In Plug-ins tab select all options.

22. Click OK.

23. On the status bar tray, click the Standards indicator. The Check Standards dialog box appears [Figure 11]. Now new standards violations including linetypes, dimension styles, and text styles are shown.

Figure 11

24. Click Settings. CAD Standards Settings dialog box appears [Figure 12].

Figure 12

25. Deselect "Show ignored problems". By deselecting this option if you ignore a standards violation, AutoCAD will not consider it as a violation anymore.

26. Click OK.

27. The name of dimension style L1 is non-standard. Click "Mark this problem as ignored" [Figure 13]. Click Next.

Figure 13

28. Ignore non-standard names L2 and L3 as well.

29. The linetype CENTER2 is not defined in the standard file [Figure 14]. Replace it with the Continuous linetype and then click Next.

Figure 14

30. Replace the non-standard HIDDEN2 linetype with the standard HIDDEN. Click Next.

31. The text style "true" does not exist in the standard file. Replace it with "Base" [Figure 15].

Figure 15

32. The Checking Complete dialog box shows the result of check standards [Figure 16].

Figure 16

33. Close the dialog boxes.

Tutorial (AutoCAD 2002)

For AutoCAD 2002 you should download the following files


The steps that you should take are similar to the ones for AutoCAD 2004 with the following exceptions.

1. The Associated Standards File(s) icon will not appear on the status bar.

2. You have not the chance to disable one or some of the plug-ins [Figure 17].

Figure 17 [AutoCAD 2002] (Click on image to enlarge)

3. The appearance of the Check Standards dialog box is a little bit different [Figure 18].

Figure 18 [AutoCAD 2002]

About the Author

Alireza Parsai is the founder of He is a mechanical engineer with more than 12 years experience with AutoCAD. Alireza is an Autodesk Authorized Author, the AutoCAD consultant for Al Khawarizmi Institute, a contributing editor for Augiworld magazine, a writer for CAD Digest, an instructor for AUGI Training Program, and an elected speaker for Autodesk University 2002. He has written 7 books in Farsi, 3 booklets in English, and more than 30 articles for different magazines and newsletters. You can reach him at or visit his website

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