Paper Space in AutoCAD

June 4, 2024 Renu Muthoo

We generally draw models in AutoCAD to a scale of one to one. For example, if we are drawing an architectural design or a floor plan, it is drawn true to its size. In the AutoCAD software, this is done in the main drawing window, which is also known as model space. There are times when we want to print an architectural design on a small sheet of paper without changing the size of the actual drawing. How do we fit a large drawing on a sheet of paper? This can be done in a mode called paper space, and in this blog, we are going to explore the paper space in AutoCAD.    
 
Paper Space 
Paper space displays a graphic representation of the drawing sheet. To work in paper space, you first have to enter a layout by clicking on a layout tab button in the Status Bar. You can identify this mode by the paper space icon displayed in the lower-left corner of the screen and by the PAPER label displayed in the Status Bar, as shown in the figure below. 
 A computer screen shot of a computer

Description automatically generated

  • In paper space, you can add or edit the border and title block, add notes, and create or manipulate the viewports that display the model.
  • A dashed boundary on the sheet represents the printable area (if a border is already inserted, it might hide the dashed boundary). The size of the layout reflects the actual sheet size specified in the layout settings.  
  • There can be multiple layouts, but only a single model space. In each layout, you can have more than one viewport.  
  • If several layout tabs are available, you can hover the cursor over a tab to display a thumbnail view of the layout. Select a tab to make it active, and the active layout gets highlighted, as shown in the figure below. 
     
     
    Switch Between Paper Space and Model Space 
    While making changes in a layout, you often switch between working on the sheet of paper and working on the model through the viewport to adjust the view.  
     
    Working Inside a Viewport (Model Space) 
  • When in a layout tab, you can switch to model space by double-clicking inside a viewport. It makes that viewport the active work area. The active viewport displays with a thicker border, and the Status Bar replaces the PAPER label with MODEL.  
     
  •  Only one viewport can be active at a time. The active viewport has a thicker boundary and displays the crosshair cursor inside it. In other viewports and in the paper area, the cursor is an arrow. To make a different viewport active, click inside its border.  
  • In the active viewport, you can Zoom or Pan to display any part of the model.  
  • Any change you make to the model’s objects through a viewport, such as moving or deleting them, is reflected in the model, the drawing, and all other viewports. 
     
    Returning to Paper Space 
  • Double-click on the paper area of the layout to change from model space back to paper space, as shown in the figure below. This makes the paper the active work area again. The paper space icon displays in the drawing window and the Status Bar displays the PAPER label. The viewport border returns to its default thickness. 
     
  •  If you Zoom or Pan here, the layout on the whole becomes bigger/smaller or it pans the layout itself. There is no effect on the drawing objects in the model space.  
  • If you double-click on the edge of the viewport, it opens the view in model space and fills the screen. This is called maximizing the viewport and it makes it easier for you to modify the drawing. You can also click  (Maximize Viewport) in the Status Bar to maximize the viewport and then click  (Minimize Viewport) to return to paper space.  
     
    I hope that this blog provides you with a basic understanding of paper space and how it is different to model space. A detailed explanation along with its hands-on practice has been provided in our AutoCAD 2025: Essentials learning guide.  

About the Author

Renu Muthoo

Learning Content Developer<br><br>Renu has worked with Autodesk products for the past 20 years with a main focus on design visualization software. Renu holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and started her career as an Instructional Designer/Author where she co-authored a number of Autodesk 3ds Max and AutoCAD books, some of which were translated into other languages for a wide audience reach. In her next role as a Technical Specialist at a 3D visualization company, Renu used 3ds Max in real-world scenarios on a daily basis. There, she developed customized 3D web planner solutions to create specialized 3D models with photorealistic texturing and lighting to produce high quality renderings.

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