Exercise: Annotations


Annotations are the notes, dimensions, and graphic symbols used to describe the objects that you draw. They are used to help explain your intentions and to explain how to construct the finished product. In this exercise you will be adding annotations to the Blocks exercise. The annotations will include notes, dimensions and graphic symbols.

The size of annotations are relative to the printed scale of the drawing. If you are making a drawing that is scale at half its actual size (2:1), the text would be drawn at two times the size on the printed paper. If the scale of the drawing is a quarter of the actual size (4:1), the text would be drawn four times the size on the printed paper. In other words the larger the scale of the drawing the larger the text.

In the image below are two of the same scale figures drawn ini model space. On the left a dimension has been placed. The dimension has been set to a scale for printing at 1/4"=1'-0". At the right another dimension has been placed; the dimension has been set to a scale for printing at 1/8"=1'-0".

The same figures are shown in Layout view (paper space). The figures have been placed in two separate viewports. The left viewport has been scaled to 1/4"=1'-0". The right viewport has been scaled to 1/8"= 1'-0". Notice how figures are different sizes but the dimensions are the same. The is the result of AutoCAD's annotative features.

Text, graphic symbols and hatch can be setup to work similarly.

Objectives/Outcomes and Assessment Criteria

Students will acquire and demonstrate 1.) technical competency in working with annotations and annotative features, 2.) sense of craft through precision and care in the presentation of the work, 3.) design aptitude in the ability to solve an organization problem, 4.) judgment in the composition of objects to achieve clear graphic communication. 5.) consideration of limitations and constraints in the problem solving process.


ANNO.1. Open the Small House exercise that you completed previously. In this exercise you will be adding more content to that file.

ANNO.2. Create a new Dimension style. You will fine the Dimension style window by 1.) going to the Annotate ribbon and 2.) selecting the small arrow on the Dimensions panel. To make a new dimension style click on the 3.) Annotative dimension style that is already in the file and 4.) click on New. You will be making a new style using the settings for the Annotative style. 

ANNO.3. Name the new style with your initials followed by dimstyle. Jake Taylor would name his dimension style JakeTaylor_dimstyle.

ANNO.4. You will be editing the settings so that the dimensions look like the one below. There are many settings and there are different styles used in various design disciplines. The dimension style below is typical for architectural drawings.  

ANNO.5. Click on the Lines tab to change the value for the Extension beyond dim lines as shown below. Notice how the graphic in the preview window changes when you change the value. 

ANNO.6. Clcik on the Symbols and Arrows. Change the arrowhead type and the size of the arrowhead.

ANNO.7. Click on the Text tab, and change the style to the style you created for your titleblock. It should appear when you click on the arrow next to the style.

ANNO.8. Click on the Fit tab, and make sure that the Annotative box is checked. If you used the Annotative dimension style to create your style, it should already be checked. 

ANNO.9. Click on the Primary Units tab, and change the Unit format to Architectural and uncheck the 0 inches box under Zero suppression. By unchecking the box, a dimension will appear as 7'-0" instead of 7'. This makes it clearer the dimension is 7 feet instead of 7 inches.

ANNO.10. The other settings can remain. Click on Ok. Set your new style to be the current style and close the window. Now any new dimension that you make will be your new style.

ANNO.11. Create the following layers: Dim, color 6. Graphics, 7.

ANNO.12. The current annotative scale is probably 1:1. Set your annotative scale to 1/8"= 1'-0". This is the scale of your viewports in Layout view (paper space).  If you don't change this setting, dimensions will be tiny.

ANNO.13. Set your current layer to Dim. Create a new dimension string. 

ANNO.14. Dimension you plan. See the video below for guidance. Include an overall dimension and locate walls and columns with dimension strings running horizontally and vertically. Make sure that strings of dimensions align all the way across. 



ANNO.15. Turn on all layers except the grid and the layer with your furniture. Shift dimension strings as necessary so they are not on top of one another.

ANNO.16. Next you will be making graphic symbols. The first will be a north arrow. Go to Google and search for images of north arrows. Look for a north arrow that you would like to draw. the choice is yours, but keep in mind that the north arrow needs to fit within a 1-inch square. Generally, north on a plan is upward. In your plan north will be in the upward direction. 

ANNO.17. Graphic symbols are drawn at the size they will appear on the printed sheet. If you were to draw your north arrow in model space, it would be very, very small. It would be more helpful to construct the graphic symbols in layout view (paper space) so you can see how big it will be on the sheet. Go to layout view for the drawing with the plan. 

ANNO.18. Set your current layer to Graphics. Draw a 1-inch square (this will be erased later). Draw your graphic symbol inside the square off to the side of your titleblock. 

ANNO.19. Erase the square once you have drawn the symbol.

ANNO.20. Make a block of your north arrow. If you want to create a library of graphic symbols, you would use the WBLOCK command. This would send your block to its own file, but this block will remain in your file so you can use the BLOCK command. See image below for guidance. By checking the Annotative box you can insert the block in model space or paper space and it can be easily adjusted to the scale of your drawing. 

ANNO.21. After you have made the block, all components will be grouped. If you click on the block, you will see that all parts are highlighted. A blue grip should appear at the center of the block.

ANNO.22. Move the block so it is on the right side but below the viewport.  The layout view is 1:1 so it is not necessary to scale the block. 

ANNO.23. The next block will be a room label. It will include a string of text that can be edited. A string of text that is embedded in a block but can be edited is called an Attribute. Off to the side of your titleblock construct a rectangle that is 1-1/2" wide by 3/16" high. Draw an X across the rectangle.


ANNO.24. You will be placing an attribute inside the box. An attribute is a piece of text that is embedded inside a block. The difference between a regular text string and an attribute is that the attributed can be edited after it has been formed into the block. Create an attribute by typing ATTDEF. This is short for attribute definition. See the image below for the atribute's settings.

ANNO.25. Click Ok and place the text at the intersection of the X. Once you click at the intersection, the text should move to center. 


ANNO.26. Use the BLOCK command to create a block. See the image below for guidance.As noted below, select just the rectangle and the text. It is not necessary to select the X that crosses your rectangle. It was drawn to locate the center of the rectangle.


ANNO.27. When you click OK, the image below should appear. The window that you see is the result of placing an attribute in your block. This is where you can change the text. For now accept the default and cllick OK. If you double-click on the block, you should see the Edit Attributes window appear again. 

ANNO.28. Erase the block and go to model space. Verify that your annotative scale is set to 1/8"=1'-0".


ANNO.29. Insert your room label into each of your three rooms. The room names are your choice, but make sure that each room has a different name. If the label does not fit in the room, find a place outside the room, and use a line with a donut (DONUT) at the end. The donut shown has an interior diameter of 0 and a exterior diameter of 3". Notice how the 3'-4" dimension has been dragged so its grip sits on the dimension line. If possible, avoid overlaps of text and dimension lines as shown with the 11'-4" dimension. 

ANNO.30. One room in your plan will be doubled in scale.. Choose one of your rooms where the label is inside the room. Right-Click on the room label. Click on Properties to open the Properties window. Add a new annotative scale to the block by following the steps below. By adding an annotative scale the block will appear in the 1/8" plan and the blowup detail.

ANNO.31. Generate a new multileader style. On the Annotate riboon look for a small arrow on the Leader panel. Name your style Multileader and Your Initials. 


ANNO.32. Change  the Arrowhead size to 3/32".

ANNO.33. Change  the text style to your style and the text height to 3/32".  

ANNO.34. Click Ok, and make your new style the current style.

ANNO.35. In model space add the following notes using the Multileader tool. 

ANNO.36. Return to layout view. Construct another block with attributes as shown and described below. The circle has a diameter of 3/8". The line is 4 inches long. Use the ATTDEF command to define the attributes.

Attribute #1: Detail Title. The tag is Detail. The prompt is Detail Title. The default is Detail Title. The text is 1/8" high.The justification is Middle left. 

Attribute #2: Scale. The tag is Scale. The prompt is Scale. The default is 1"=1'-0". The text is 3/32" high.The justification is Middle left. 

Attribute #3: Detail Number. The tag is X. The prompt is Detail Number. The default is X. The text is 1/8" high.The justification is Middle Center. 

Name the block DetailTitle followed by your initials. Place the pick point in a logical position. 


ANNO.37. One of the first exercises was to construct a titleblock to use throughout the semester. The titleblock was planned for printing letter-sized sheets. Larger sheets are more typical. Common sizes are 11" x 17", 18" x 24", 24" x 36", 30" x 42" and 36" x 48". For the remainder of this exercise you will be setting up the drawing for printing 11"x17" sheets. The layout will be 17" wide and 11" high.

Return to the Page Setup and Layouts page on this site. Follow the instructions for creating a page setup beginning at TB.14. Most of the steps will be the same. Exceptions include the sheet size and the Drawing Orientation. You may find it easier to edit the existing Layout instead of making a new one. Once you have completed the new Page Setup, continue with the steps below.

ANNO.38.  Center the title at the bottom of the sheet. Change the title for the new layouts to Small House Exercise.Rename the first new layout tab to Plan Section & Elevation. 

Create two viewports on the sheet. The size of the viewport can be adjusted to fit the content. In the left viewport show your plan. Verify that the viewport scale is 1/8"=1'-0". In the right view show the section and plan. Precisely snap to the corners of your model space square, and verify that the scale is 1/8"=1'-0".

ANNO.39. Insert the detail title block below each of the three drawings. Change the detail title to describe the drawing. Number the drawings starting with 1 for the Plan, 2 for the section and 3 for the elevation. Change the scale to 1/8"=1'-0". You can edit the text by double-clicking on the block. Highlight an item in the list to change it.  Also insert the North arrow with its center in alignment with the line of the detail title block. The north arrow is only shown below a plan. 



ANNO.40. Delete all of the old layouts. You can delete them by right-clicking on the layout tab. Make a copy of the new layout. Rename the layout to Plan and Section Details.

ANNO.41. Go to the new layout. Enter the left viewport, and zoom to the room that you plan to blow up. Set the annotative scale to 1/4"=1'-0". Center the room approximately. Change the detail title information. Change the Detail Title block to Plan of [room name]. 

ANNO.42. In the right viewport zoom to an room on your section. Set the scale to 1/4"=1'-0". Change the Detail Title block to Section Detail.

ANNO.43. Retrieve wright.ctb if you have not already, print the two layouts to pdf, save your drawing file, close your drawing file, and upload the two pdfs and the drawing file.