How to use AutoCAD layers to organise your Geometry


AutoCAD layers are a bit like transparent overlays.

You can create as many layers as you like. You can use layers to control the colour, line type, line weight and plot style for your geometry (amongst other things) as well as the visibility of all the geometry on that layer.

Do you use Autocad Layers to organize your Geometry?

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Organizing your Drawing using Layers

When you draw some geometry on a layer, your lines and arcs will take on the properties of that layer. You could use layers to group geometry together that has similar properties, or to group geometry that represents similar things together.

By organizing your drawing using layers, you can control the visibility and object properties of a large selection of geometry and make changes quickly.


What do Layers Represent?

In the mad bad ol’ days of CAD paper drawings were plotted by plotting machines. These plotters had a roll of paper and a carousel of pens. The pens were similar to the kind of Rotring drawing pens that you might have used for hand draughting.

The carousel held a limited number of pens, so logically many CAD draughters set the layers up to represent each one of the pens in the plotter carousel. One layer was 0.5mm, one was 0.25mm and so on.

Although we still refer to ‘Plotting’ drawings, really we are printing them and the old restrictions no longer apply. The number of layers you can have in AutoCAD is practically limitless.

Why not have a layer for Centre line geometry, a layer for Hidden line geometry and so on? Why not have a layer for softwood and a layer for MDF? or why not have a layer for framing and a layer for panelling?

Creating logically named layers can help your drawings to become easier to create and edit, and can help your colleagues to quickly grasp what it is you are describing with your drawing.

To create a new layer

  1. Click the big red ‘A’ >Format >Layer
  2. At the command prompt, enter layer.
  3. In the Layer Properties Manager, click the New Layer button.

Toolbar: Layer Properties 

Command entry: LAYER

A layer name – ‘LAYER1’ is automatically added to the layer list.  You can enter a new layer name by typing over the highlighted layer name. This layer will have the properties of the previous layer in the layer list.

To change the properties of the layer, click the appropriate icons. You can add an optional comment in the ‘Description’ column to help your colleagues identify the purpose of your new layer.

If you want to make your new layer current, click on your new layer to select it and click on the green tick. Click Apply to save your changes, or click OK to save and close (you don’t need to do this with the new ‘Modeless’ Layer manager that was introduced in Acad 2009).


To quickly create a lot of layers, type a comma ‘,’ after each layer name. A new layer will automatically be added as you type each name.

Did this article help you to understand Autocad layers?

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Did you enjoy this post? For more like this read using AutoCAD’s layer productivity tools ‘Never use the Layers pull down again!’

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