CAD Standards

January 8, 2024 Renu Muthoo

It is extremely important that all drawings produced by an organization are consistent throughout and follow the same method of production. That is why most design and drafting companies have set standards to establish drawing consistency. This means that from layers to linetypes, text styles to dimension styles, the standard components should be standardized in a drawing. To achieve this consistency, the AutoCAD software has provided the CAD Standards tools to firstly configure the standards and then check for those standards such that it matches the established scheme for any of the standard components in a drawing.

Using the CAD Standards tools you can:

  • Create a standards file that is an AutoCAD drawing containing the appropriate layers, linetypes, text, and dimension styles, saved in the .DWS format.
  • Associate the standards file with a drawing to apply the standards.
  • Compare the current drawing to the company’s standards, alert for any deviations, and then fix the discrepancies.
  • The CAD Standards tools are conveniently located in the Manage tab>CAD Standards panel.
    A screenshot of a computer

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Creating a Standards File

The process of creating a standards file is similar to the process of creating a drawing template file. The following are the steps for creating a Standards File:

  1. Start a new drawing or open an existing drawing.
  2. Set up the layers, linetypes, text styles, and dimension styles as per the company standards.
  3. Save the drawing as an AutoCAD Drawing Standards (.DWS) file. (Application Menu> expand   (Save As)> Drawing Standards.)
  4. Select the location in which you want to save the file and click Save.
  • You can open a standards file to change it the same way that you change a drawing file. In the Select File dialog box, in the Files of type drop down list, select Standards (*.DWS). You can define several standards files for different sets of standards or different projects.
  • In many cases, the standards file is required to have the same settings as your template drawing. Create a new drawing based on the template and save it as a standards file.

Configuring Standards

Once you have created the standards file, you need to associate it to the drawing(s) to which you want to apply the standards. The Configure Standards command controls the standards files that are associated with a drawing, as shown in figure below.

A screenshot of a computer

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  1. Open the drawing to which you want to apply the standards.
  2. In the Manage tab>CAD Standards panel, click (Configure Standards).
  3. Click  (Add Standards File) and select the standards file that you want to use.
  4. To use the standards immediately, click Check Standards. You can also click OK to close the Configure Standards dialog box and check the standards later.


Plug-ins are applications that specify how properties are checked for a named object. The AutoCAD software currently includes plug-ins for layers, linetypes, dimension styles, text styles, and multileader styles, as shown in following figure. The Plug-ins tab enables you to select which standard components to check. For example, if you are not concerned about linetype standards, clear the check from this option.

CAD Standards Status Bar Icon

 (Associated standards file(s)), located near the right end of the Status Bar, displays by default when a standards file is associated with the drawing, as shown below. An alert balloon might also display to notify you of standards violations, as shown below. It contains a link that you can click to start the Check Standards command.


Checking Standards

After a standards file has been associated with a drawing, you can check the drawing for compliance. In the ribbon, in the Manage tab>CAD Standards panel, when you click  (Check Standards), the software compares the standard components in the current drawing with the settings in the standards file. For each discrepancy it finds, it prompts you to select how to fix the problem, as shown in the figure below.

A screenshot of a computer

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  • If the software finds a non-standard object in the drawing, it displays a Replace with area containing the available standard objects. For example, this could be a layer that is not one of your standard layers, or one that uses a different color than your standard layer. Select a standard layer or style to substitute for the non-standard one and click Fix.
  • The Preview of changes area displays the properties that are going to change when you replace the non-standard object.
  • When you replace a non-standard object with a standard one, drawing objects are converted and non-standard objects are purged.
  • To leave a non-standard object unchanged, click Next to ignore it.
  • If you select the Mark this problem as ignored option, the problem prompts you with Ignored by: (your username) the next time the drawing is checked.

I hope that this blog provides you with a basic understanding of how to configure a standard for your drawings and further check your drawings for compliance to those standards. A detailed explanation along with its hands-on practice has been provided in our AutoCAD 2024: Advanced learning guide.  

About the Author

Renu Muthoo

Learning Content Developer<br><br>Renu is a learning content developer for AutoCAD and AutoCAD Toolsets, Autodesk 3ds Max, and other Autodesk products. She has over 25 years of experience working with Autodesk products and specializes in AutoCAD and design visualization software. She enjoys sharing her knowledge via blogs and webcasts and uses her instructional design expertise to create effective learning content for Autodesk software users. Renu holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering.

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