A technical drawing is incomplete without annotation. Notes on a drawing are important to convey design information or clarify intent which can’t be portrayed by linework alone. Whether you require short notes, as in the case of door numbers or room names, or you need detailed paragraphs, AutoCAD’s text tools allow you to add annotation in the form you require to your project.


There are two kinds of text that can be used in AutoCAD: Multiline and Single Line.

You have more control over the appearance of Multiline Text and if you move the text, multiple lines stay grouped together. Single Line text is useful for writing out a collection of notes; each return creates a separate entity. This is useful for writing out multiple single line notes, such as room names, that can be moved around the screen independently from each other.

Multiline Text

The most flexible form of text for formatting is Multiline Text.

Multiline Text can be accessed from the Ribbon Annotate tab > Text panel by clicking the Multiline Text button.

Command line: To start the Multiline Text tool from the command line, type “T” and press [Enter].

When creating Multiline Text, a rectangle shape is drawn to identify the margins. When text reaches the edge of the margin, the text will wrap onto the next line without the need to enter a carriage return.

After clicking the Multiline Text button, AutoCAD will prompt:

Specify first corner:

A rectangle to identify the text box size can be drawn. The Abc notation in the top-left hand corner is an indication of the text size.

Once the text box has been placed, the Text Editor contextual tab will show all the available options.

Note: A contextual Ribbon panel is one that will appear only when you have a specific tool selected. In this case, the Text Editor is active so the Text Editor tab is added to the end of all the Ribbon tabs.

Type the required text. Notice the text will wrap to stay inside the drawn text box.


The style options for Multiline Text are shown under the Style panel of the Text Editor contextual tab.

In the Style section of the Style panel, the defined text styles can be selected. AutoCAD by default has two styles, Annotative and Standard.

The Annotative button turns Annotation Scale on or off for the selected text but doesn’t change the text style.

The Text Height field allows changing the size of the text without modifying the text style. Clicking the drop-down arrow will allow recently used text heights to be selected.

Annotation Scale

Annotation scale is used to control the size and scale of annotative objects such as text and dimensions.

From the Drafting Settings, the Annotation Scale drop-down allows you to choose the required annotation scale.

If the Add Scales button is active, annotative objects will change size when the Annotation Scale drop-down value is changed.

When Annotation Visibility is activated the annotation will re-size to display at the current Annotation Scale, if that scale is assigned to the object. If the select Annotation Scale has not been assigned, the annotation will remain at its current size. For example, if an annotative dimension is only assigned to 1:50 and the Annotation Scale is changed to 1:100, the dimension will remain at 1:50.

When an annotative object is selected, the different scales the annotative object uses are displayed. In the diagram below, annotative text is selected showing text will appear at 1:20, 1:50 and 1:100.


The formatting options for Multiline Text are shown under the Formatting panel of the Text Editor contextual tab.

Creates BOLD text

Creates ITALIC text

Creates UNDERLINED text

Creates overlined text

Changes selected text from lowercase to UPPERCASE

Changes selected text from UPPERCASE to lowercase

Changes the text font

Changes the text colour

Adds a BACKGROUND MASK to text. Background masks can be used to obscure information behind a text object.

Background Mask

Clicking the Background Mask button will show the Background Mask dialog box.

Tick the Use background mask tickbox to turn on the mask.

The Border offset factor is the width around the text that the background mask will cover. A border offset is a multiplication of the text height. If the value is set to 1, the border will cover the extents of the text. If the border offset is set to 5, the actual offset will be 5x the height of the text.

The Fill Color is the colour of the background mask. If Use drawing background color is ticked, the colour will be ignored and simply hide any geometry behind it.


The Paragraph panel has options for Multiline Text to allow custom alignment, spacing and bullet points.


The Insert panel has options to allow for the addition of Columns, Symbols and Fields.

Inserting Columns

Once text has been created, columns can be added to give a newspaper column format.

From the Ribbon Text Editor contextual tab > Insert panel, click the Columns drop-down, select Static Columns and choose the number of columns you require.

To adjust the amount of text in each column, the grip below the annotation can be adjusted as required.

Inserting Symbols

From the Ribbon Text Editor contextual tab > Insert panel, click the Symbol drop-down and choose the symbol you wish to use.

If the symbol you need isn’t shown, such as the ³ or ç symbol, click the Other button at the bottom of the list.

The Character Map dialog box will show.

Double-click the symbol and it will appear in the Characters to copy box at the bottom of the dialog box.

Click the Copy button to copy the symbol to the clipboard.

Return to the AutoCAD text window, right-click and choose Paste to add the symbol.

Note: At the bottom of the Character Map dialog box, the keystroke required to insert the symbol is shown. In order to reuse this symbol without having to find it in the Character Map, type the keystroke. In the example of the ± symbol, hold the [ALT] key on your keyboard and type “0177”. When you release [ALT] the symbol will show.

Inserting Fields

Fields are text that display information about an AutoCAD object such as a circle or Polyline and can provide information including area and diameter. If the circle changes size, the field automatically updates the text to match.

To place a field, click the Field button to show the Field dialog box and select the required field.

Once a field has been created, the value will be shown in the Multiline Text editor.

The grey background indicates the field will update automatically each time the area of the shape changes.

Field backgrounds don’t print.

Spell Check

The Spell Check button is used to check the spelling of the text currently being inserted.

If a word is spelled incorrectly, the word will be underlined in red.

To view suggestions for the correct spelling, right click the underlined word. At the top of the right-click menu will be a list of suggestions. Select the required spelling.

If you want to check the spelling on your entire drawing without starting a new Multiline Text object, the Ribbon Annotate tab > Text panel has a Check Spelling tool.

Find and Replace

The Find & Replace tool is used to find and replace text in your drawing.

Click the Find & Replace button to show the Find and Replace dialog box.

Enter the words to find. If required, enter the words to replace with.

There are a number of options when using Find and Replace that can ensure only the words you want to be replaced, are.

Match case only finds the search string if it matches the same upper or lower case values.

Find whole words only will ignore words with the find string contained within. For example if you entered in the Find what: box “LED” find whole words would only find LED and not compiLED.

Use wildcards allows the use of the * character within the string to make your search criteria more specific. An example would be, if you entered “*LOCK” in the Find what box, use wildcards would not show the text “BLOCKWORK” unless you changed the search criteria to “*LOCK*”

Match diacritics uses diacritics, the accents added to letters such as the C in façade.

Single Line

The Single Line tool is a much simpler form of text with fewer options than Multiline Text but, is useful for adding many short notes to a drawing.

Single Line text can be accessed from the Ribbon Annotate tab > Text panel, by clicking the drop-down below the Multiline Text button and choosing Single Line.

Command line: To start the Single Line tool from the command line, type “DT” and press [Enter].

When you click on the Single Line tool, you will be prompted with:

Specify start point of text or [Justify/Style]:

You can either click a point on the screen as the insertion point for your text or, choose one of the options in the “[ ]” brackets.

Justify is the alignment of the text, the command line prompts with the available justification methods:

Enter an option [Align/Fit/Center/Middle/Right/TL/TC/TR/ML/MC/MR/BL/BC/BR]

Each of the two letter codes are acronyms for common alignment options such as TL = Top Left, MC = Middle Centre, BR = Bottom Right.

Style is the text style. The available text styles won’t be listed but if the name of the style is known, it can be typed.

Once the initial point has been clicked for the insertion point, if the text style doesn’t have a pre-defined height, AutoCAD will prompt for the size of the text. If the current text style is annotative, the prompt will ask for the paper height. If the style is not annotative, the prompt will ask for the height for the new text.

You will then be prompted for the rotation of the text.

Start typing your text. It will be displayed on the screen as it is entered.

Pressing [Enter] will take you to a new line but, will also create a separate text object which can be selected individually.

To relocate multiple Single line text elements, select all the text elements to show the grips and, using the grips, move them individually to their required location.

Selecting Text Styles

Text Styles are pre-defined properties for text. Styles can be used to help standardise the appearance of text on drawings. All text placed will use a text style, you can change the text style and the appearance of the text will change to match the style.

From the Annotate Ribbon tab > Text panel, click the Text Style drop-down and choose the required text style.

Command line: To start the Test Style tool from the command line, type “ST” and press [Enter].

Defining text styles

Text Styles can be edited from the Ribbon Annotate tab > Text Panel by clicking the Text Styles button.

The text styles available will show in the Text Style dialog box.

Each of the properties in the text style can be amended unless the font doesn’t support that feature. In the dialog, Vertical is greyed out because the selected, “Arial” font doesn’t support it.


This controls the font used by the style. AutoCAD will use the fonts installed on your PC.

Certain fonts such as the “txt.shx” font don’t have Bold and Italic style options, in these cases, the Font Style drop-down will be greyed out.


Controls the size of the text. If the annotative option is ticked the font will multiply the Paper Text Height by the Annotation scale to insert text at the correct size for the selected scale.

Annotative Text Styles are based on the Annotation scale. Select your Annotation scale from the Drafting Settings below the application window.


Provides special formatting to create non-standard appearances:

Upside Down places text characters upside down.

Backwards places text backwards.

Vertical displays the characters aligned vertically. Vertical is only available if the selected font supports dual orientation.

Width Factor adjusts the width of the font as a ratio of the Text Height. 1 is full size.

Oblique Angle allows text to be italicised by a specified angle.

Modifying Text

Inserted text can be modified using the Properties palette.

Select the text you wish to make a change to, right-click and choose Properties to show the Properties palette.

Adjust the properties as required, such as the Font or Obliquing angle.

If you wish to change individual parts of the text, double click the text to open it in the text editor. The contextual Text Editor tab will show.

Highlight the text you wish to change.

From the Text Editor contextual tab, change the values in the Formatting panel to change just the highlighted words.

In the example, the word “text” has had the font, colour and underline value changed.


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