What are Annotative Objects and Annotative Scales in AutoCAD?

Designing with efficiency can require a bit of time and planning. As the drawings you work on become larger and more complex, you will likely need to draw more section and elevation views along with connection and foundation details. These design elements often utilize reusable content and may require them to be displayed at different scales based on the drawing.

There are three different approaches that can be used to show annotation objects at different scales:

  • Create multiple representations of the same annotation objects on different layers in model space and then control which objects are displayed by freezing and thawing layers
  • Create annotation in paper space on a layout at 1:1 scale, only works if you plot using layouts
  • Utilize annotative objects and styles to represent annotation objects at different scales while keeping layers simple

What Are Annotative Objects and Styles?

Annotative objects are annotation with one or more representations at different scales, and not separate annotation objects of which you change their height/scale or freeze/thaw their assigned layer to control final size and visibility within a viewport. Annotative styles are similar to non-annotative styles except they manage the creation of annotative objects which controls how the final height/scale of an annotation object is calculated.

The following annotation objects can be annotative:

  • Hatch
  • Multiline and single-line text objects and text styles
  • Dimensions and dimension styles
  • Geometric tolerances
  • Multileaders and multileader styles
  • Blocks and attribute definitions

Note: Table objects and styles are not supported as annotative objects.

Here is an example of a model using annotative objects with two different scales; 1/4″=1′-0″ and 1/2″=1′-0″.

When the model is displayed in a viewport, the scale of the viewport controls which representation of the annotative object is displayed. If the scale of a viewport doesn’t match that of the annotative objects in the viewport, then those annotative objects are not displayed. In the previous image, text, dimension and multileader objects are assigned the scales 1/4”=1′-0” and 1/2”=1′-0”. This is why not all annotation is displayed at the same time or in a viewport altogether; the first two viewports are assigned scales that match those of the annotative objects while the third viewport has a different scale.

What is Annotation Scale?

Annotation scale is used to determine text height or the overall scale of an annotation object.

The approach used to calculate an annotation scale depends on whether the object is placed in model space or on a layout.

In Model Space

When annotation objects are created in model space, the following must be considered:

  • Drawing or plot scale if plotting from model space.
  • Viewport scale of a layout viewport if plotting from a paper space layout.

The text height or scale of an annotation object in model space can be set to a fixed text height or be controlled by assigning the object an annotation scale. Annotation objects assigned a fixed text height or object scale remain proportionate in size to the current plot or viewport scale.

If the annotative property of an annotation object is enabled, the text height or scale of the annotation object adjusts based on the current drawing annotation or layout viewport scale with the result that it will remain at the same size automatically.

Directly on a Layout

Annotation objects created in paper space on a layout should be created at full size because layouts are commonly plotted at a 1:1 scale. For example, text created with a height of 1/8” in paper space will be output at 1/8” unless a scale other than 1:1 is used to plot the layout.

How to Add Annotation Scales to an Annotative Object

Once an annotative object has been created, you can add additional annotation scales to the object or remove scales that are no longer needed. New annotation scales impact how the object appears in Model space and in viewports on a layout.

The following steps explain how to add annotation scales to the annotative MText object created in the previous exercise:

  1. On the layout tabs, click Model.
  2. Select the MText object with the text string STORAGE created in the previous exercise.
  3. Right-click and select Annotative Object Scale > Add/Delete Scales.
  4. In the Annotation Object Scale dialog box, click Add.
  5. In the Add Scales to Object dialog box, select 1/4″-1′-0″ scale from the list and click OK twice to add the annotation scales.
  6. On the layout tabs, click SECTIONS AND DETAILS.

You should notice the MText object now appears in the STAIR SECTION 1 viewport and is displayed at 1/16″ paper text height based on the viewport’s scale of 1/4″=1′-0″.

How to Create Annotative Text in AutoCAD?

While the workflow of creating annotative text, dimensions, hatch and so forth is all similar, this article only focuses on creating annotative multiline text. Creating annotative and non-annotative (regular) text is similar; except for the use of an annotative text style and the final height of the text to be created. The height of text is calculated is based on the scale at which the text will be displayed.

The following explains how text height is calculated for placement in Model space based choosing to use non-annotative or annotative text:

  • Non-annotative text: paper text height x scale factor = text heightYou manually calculate the text height. For example, if you want to display text with a paper text height of 1/16″ (0.0625) in a viewport scaled at 1/2″-1′-0″ (factor of 24) you would create the text with a height of 1 1/2″.
    • 0.0625 x 24 = 1.5
  • Annotative text: paper text heightAutoCAD automatically calculates and displays the text at the necessary height based on the provided paper text height and assigned annotation scale.

How to Create an Annotative Text Style?

Annotative text styles are not required to create annotative text, but they do help to simplify the process much like their non-annotative text style counterparts. The main difference between annotative and non-annotative text styles is the Annotative property. When the Annotative property is enabled and the style is current, any text created is annotative. The Paper Text Height property specifies the final text height of the text, while the Match Text Orientation to Layout property defines if the text is oriented to the layout and viewport in which it is displayed.

Setting the Annotation Scale of a Viewport

The sample drawing used earlier already had annotation scales set for each of the viewports on the SECTIONS AND DETAILS layout which match the scale of each viewport. When you create a new viewport and set its scale, the annotation scale is automatically set to match the scale of the viewport. If the two scales don’t match, you can click the Viewport Scale Sync button () to match the annotation scale to the viewport’s scale. The Viewport Scale Sync button is blue when the two scales match.

If you work with section or elevation views, and details at multiple scales, annotative objects and annotation scaling can simplify annotating your designs. This is demonstrated by how easy it can be to ensure annotation is displayed at the correct size no matter the scale assigned to a viewport.

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