Autocad: Plotting 101

Most people who have been using AutoCAD for a while have no problem plotting a drawing, but – like all things AutoCAD, the developers have never thrown anything away. So when AutoCAD doesn’t produce the plot you were expecting – what do you do next?

On the flip side, there are now many powerful options for Plotting automation or Batch plotting that many users just aren’t aware of.

So Lets start at the beginning – How do I plot?

As always, there are many ways of starting up the plot command:


AutoCAD Plot button

Ribbon:  Output tab  > Plot panel

Menu: Application menu > Print > Plot

Toolbar: Standard

Command entry: plot

Shortcut key CTRL+P

Face the other way, hold your hand above your head and shout ‘BAZOOKA’ *

Or right click over the current tab to bring up a context menu:

The AutoCAD Page set-up manager

Had enough already? No? – Still with me… Good, If it all gets to much, scroll down to point No. 14 – It’s well worth it!

All being well you should see this dialog:

The AutoCAD Plot Layout Dialogue

The Plot – Layout Dialogue

1. The title of your layout will appear here (approximately the first 70 odd characters anyway)

2. Learn about plotting – seriously, the help is there to help!

Page Setup

3. Pick your page setup (we’ll get to those) If you’ve already successfully plotted your drawing once (and you didn’t read Point No. 14 yet) you will be able to chose previous plot to use the last successful set of plot settings.

AutoCAD Previous Plot

You could use this in conjunction with Point No. 14 to quickly apply the same lot of settings across multiple layouts.

If you have at least one paper space layout which is ready to plot you will also be able to pick this directly from the list to map the settings across.

Finally you can choose ‘Import’ to import page setups from another drawing.

4. You can add a new page set up here.


5. Pick your plotter.

6. When you’ve picked a plotter, the information about the plotter you’ve picked will appear here. You can click the ‘Properties’ button to mess up customise the plot driver settings.

7. ‘Mini me’ Plot preview, or the ‘Plot Preview-Preview’. A handy hint on how you’re plot will turn out.

8. The ‘Plot to file’ check box. This will create a ‘PLT’ file which can be batch plotted or sent to a print bureau for plotting.

Paper Size

9. Paper size for the plot.

Number of Copies

10. No of copies to be plotted

Plot Area

11. What to plot – Options in Paper space include:

‘Display – Just what you are looking at currently on the screen

‘Layout’ – Everything within the paper boundaries

‘Window’ – You can window around what you want to plot

‘Extents’ – Everything!

Options in Model space also include:

‘Limits’ – Everything within the user set limits of Model space

NB: If you have created any ‘Named Views’ you will also be able to choose one of these.

Plot Offset

12. The plot offset from the corner of the paper or the corner of the plot-able area. You can check the ‘Centre the plot’ box to center the plot.

Plot Scale

13. Plot scale, You may want to use this if you are plotting from model space. If you are plotting from paper space you will probably want this to be set to 1:1 (Unless you are producing a reduced scale plot).

The Buttons…

14. Click on this button to see a preview of how your plot will turn out. Click on ‘OK’ to send your plot to the printer. Click on Cancel if you just realised you forgot to fill out your title block. Click on ‘Help’ if nothing I’ve written makes any sense at all.

Apply to Layout

For those of you who made it this far… Click on ‘Apply to layout’ to save all the plot settings you just picked SO YOU NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!

If you do this in your template file, you may never have to tweak all these settings again.

AutoCAD Plotting Extras Arrow

15. Finally check out the funky little arrow in the corner, there’s even more plot settings hidden under here… I’ll save those until another time ;-)


Ready for more? There are a number of system variables that effect how AutoCAD will plot, read more in…
An introduction to AutoCAD’s Plotting options


* Yes, I made that one up.

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