How to Use Drawing Templates in AutoCAD?

New drawings start from either a default drawing template file or a custom drawing template file that you create. Drawing template files store default settings, styles, and additional data.

When AutoCAD starts, the Start tab is displayed by default. Here, you can quickly start a new drawing file based on the current drawing template file, or you can specify a different template file from the Templates list to start a new drawing.

What Can Be Saved in a Template?

A drawing template file is a drawing file that has been saved with a .dwt file extension, and it specifies the styles, settings, and layouts in a drawing, including title blocks. The default drawing template files are provided as samples.

CAD managers often create, maintain, and distribute drawing template files to maintain consistent standards and styles across an organization. Among the settings specified are

  • Units of measure and measurement style (UNITS)
  • Drafting settings (DSETTINGS)
  • Layers and layer properties (LAYER)
  • Linetype scale (LTSCALE)
  • Dimension styles (DIMSTYLE)
  • Text styles (STYLE)
  • Layouts with layout viewports and scales (LAYOUT)
  • Plot and publishing settings (PAGESETUP)

Here’s some of drawing settings that can’t be stored in a drawing template:

  • User interface elements, such as the Quick Access toolbar or ribbon changes
  • Custom hatch patterns
  • Custom applications, action macros, scripts, AutoLISP programs
  • Shape files

Using Existing Templates

Autodesk provides several templates that are installed with AutoCAD. These templates can be accessed from the Start tab on the Templates drop-down list.

Opening and Saving a Template

To make a change to a template, you’ll need to open it. Opening a template is like opening a drawing.

  1. Choose Open from the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. In the Files of type drop-down list, choose Drawing Template (*.dwt).You should see the templates installed with AutoCAD.
  3. Select a template and click Open.
  4. You may save a new template by clicking Save As and give the template a name, MyTemplate, and click Save.
  5. In the Template Options dialog box, enter a description for the template and leave the rest of the defaults as they are and click OK.

How to Change the Default Template for a New Drawing?

By default, when you start a new drawing, AutoCAD creates the drawing from the template specified in the Default Template File Name for QNEW, in this case, acad.dwt. Let’s change this setting to start a new drawing using the new template.

  1. In the drawing window, right-click and choose Options.Or at the Command prompt type, options.
  2. Click the Files tab and expand Template Settings > Default Template File Name for QNEW.
  3. Select the file path and choose Browse.Or double-click the file path to browse.
  4. From the Select a file dialog box, browse to and select the template file you want AutoCAD to use as the default for a new drawing, in this case MyTemplate, and click Open.
  5. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.Now when you start a new drawing, AutoCAD will use MyTemplate.

How to Edit and Test Template?

Editing a template is like editing a drawing. Follow the steps above to open MyTemplate.

Think about what you would like to have already setup when you create a new drawing and consider adding the drawing settings to MyTemplate.

Here are a few drawing settings that might be useful:

  • Turning the grid display off
  • Changing the drawing window color
  • Adding standard layers
  • Creating text and dimension styles
  • Having a title block available to insert
  • Setting drawing units

All of these are drawing settings that can be added to a template so the next time you create a new drawing it’s ready to go.

An easy way to test the changes to the template is to first save it, then click the + on the drawing tabs to create a new drawing. Keeping the template open for testing makes changes to the template very quick.

How to Import Styles and Layers from DesignCenter?

DesignCenter can be used to add layers, named styles, and blocks, to a template.

  1. Click View tab > Palettes panel > DesignCenter Or at the Command prompt, type adcenter.
  2. In DesignCenter, navigate to Landscaping.dwg and drag the drawing into the drawing area of the template.

Note: If you only want the block definitions available to insert from the Blocks palette press Esc after the drag and drop. Otherwise, the blocks will be inserted into the template drawing window.

Now the named styles, blocks, and drawing settings that are defined in Landscaping.dwg are now available in MyTemplate.

Create a new drawing to test MyTemplate and verify the blocks are available in the new drawing.

Templates can be a powerful tool for enforcing standards in your office and a time-saver when creating new drawings. They are not difficult to setup and can be easily created, edited, and shared as office standards change.

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