AutoCAD uses page setups to control layout settings and plotter properties. Page setups can be saved and applied to multiple layouts in the same drawing file. This guide explores the process of creating setups for printing that can be used over and over again each time the same drawing is issued.
To open the Page Setup Manager click the Page Setup Manager button from the Ribbon Output tab > Plot panel.
Command-line: To start the Page Setup Manager from the command line, type “PAGE” and press [Enter].
Note: If you have the Model and Layout tabs shown, you can also right-click on the layout tab and choose Page Setup Manager
Different page setups are depending on whether you are currently in Modelspace or Paperspace. Before creating any page setups, ensure you are in the correct ‘space’.
The default page setup will have the same name as the layout.
Creating Page Setups
To create a new page setup, click the New… button. The New Page Setup dialogue will display. Enter a name for your page setup. Logical names help find your page setup later.
Click OK to accept. The Page Setup dialogue box will show:
- The Printer/plotter section will allow you to choose from installed printers and AutoCAD PC3 files.
An installed printer is installed on your PC.
PC3 files are printer configurations that maintain a set of AutoCAD specific settings for a printer. PC3 files will either be configured to point to an installed printer or to a printer driver that creates file-based prints such as PDFs or DWFs
Selecting a printer and clicking the Properties button will show the Plotter Configuration Editor dialogue box. If changes are made to the printer configuration, AutoCAD will prompt you to save the changes to a PC3 file.
Note: PC3 files must be stored in a specific folder for AutoCAD to be able to pick them up. This folder can be configured by closing any open dialogue boxes right-clicking the command line and choosing Options. In the options dialogue box, click the Files tab and browse to Printer Support File Path > Printer Configuration Search Path.
- The Paper size section allows the selection of the paper size. Only paper sizes valid for the selected printer will be shown, although it is possible to add custom paper sizes by modifying a PC3 file for a selected printer.
The Plot area section allows a choice of area to print.
Display, Print what is visible on the screen.
Extents, Prints everything in Paperspace even if it sits outside of the shown printable area.
Layout, Prints the contents inside the printable area (recommended method).
The window, Allows an area of the screen to be specified.
- The Plot offset (origin set to the printable area) can be used to adjust the margins. This can be useful to reposition a drawing to fit on a piece of paper. Most printers have a margin around the page that cannot be printed (to allow for the paper to be moved through the printer) so, should the edges of the drawing not print, these offsets can be used to shift the drawing across and up the paper.
- The Plot style table (pen assignments) section allows you to select your CTB/STB file. These are used to control which elements print colour and which print black and white. Plot styles can also be used to control line weights, line styles and whether the end of lines is rounded, square, etc.
STB or Object Dependent Style Tables define settings that control how objects on a particular layer print out. An example STB Plot Style would use the layer’s properties except for the colour which would change to black when printing. The STB method is the most flexible, and works best for exchanging data with other CAD/BIM systems – you are not limited to using colour to define thickness.
Each layer can be assigned a Plot Style in the Layer Manager.
CTB or Colour Dependant Styles Tables define settings that are applied to a specific colour. An example would be anything drawn using colour 6 (Magenta) would print out black.
Switching the type of plot style
To change a drawing from using CTB files to STB, or vice versa, type “CONVERTPSTYLES” in the command line and press [Enter]. You will be prompted that the styles are being converted.
- When printing 3D views, the Shaded viewport options will allow you to select the shade mode such as wireframe or shaded from the Shade plot drop-down. If the drawing doesn’t show a 3D view, the drop-down will be greyed out. The Quality drop-down controls the resolution of the 3D shaded views. If “DPI” is selected, the DPI box will allow a custom Dots Per Inch resolution to be entered.
- The Plot options further adjust how the drawing will appear.
To make sure your drawing is printed using the Plot Styles you have defined, you need to ensure that Plot styles are ticked “ON” in the Plot Options section.
Plot with plot styles OFF: Plot with plot styles ON:
The Plot Scale section allows the specific scale for the drawing to be set. Usually, in Paperspace, a scale of 1:1 would be used but, if printing an A1 drawing at A3 size, the scale can be set to 1:2. The Fit to paper checkbox can be useful to quickly print out a portion of a drawing or Modelspace without having to worry about scale.
If you experience problems with objects printing out above annotation or other objects in Paperspace, use Plot paper space last. This prints the information on Modelspace first then overlays the items in Paperspace.
Plot paper space last OFF: Plot paper space last ON:
This requires annotation to be added in the Paperspace layout.
If you are asked to make a quick “informal” print of a drawing for a meeting without any sheet annotation, or perhaps without any title information, you can use the Hide paper space objects tickbox.
This will simply ignore any objects in Paperspace, plotting only the information contained in Modelspace.
Note: You may wonder why you wouldn’t just plot from Modelspace, but remember that your Layout will be already set up for the correct printer, Plot Styles, and laid out correctly on the paper.
- Drawing orientation controls the page and whether it is printed in a portrait or landscape manner.
The Plot upside-down option can be used when printing to large format plotters. If printing an A3 drawing using an A1 or A0 printer, this option will not only rotate the drawing being printed but will also print it to the other side of the page saving paper.
Once you have set all your settings, click OK to accept and return to the Page Setup Manager.
Select your newly created page setup and click Set Current to apply the settings to the current layout.
Once the Page Setup has been configured, Paperspace will show a preview of the paper size (the white area) and the printable area (Inside the dotted black line). The margins between the printable area and the paper size are used for feeding the paper through the printer.
Importing Page Setups
Page setups can be imported from other files to save having to continually define them.
From the Page Setup Manager, click the Import button. The Select Page Setup From File dialogue box opens.
Browse to an AutoCAD .dwg file that contains the page setup you want to import and click Open.
The available page setups will show in the Import Page Setups dialogue box. Select the required page setup or setups and click OK.
The page setup will now be available in your file.