Why Use Paper Space in AutoCAD?

by Jeff Weber

The first tip for this month is one that has confounded many AutoCAD users for years.

What is Paper Space and why should I use it?

Now I know that right away a lot of opinions start flying around.

I have worked with AutoCAD since version 12 and I have seen a lot of changes.

I am one of those who believe in Paper Space and I believe that if more CAD users understood just what it is, and how it will help them in their drafting, they would be more receptive to learning how to use it.

That being said I have also worked with a lot of people who say things like “I have been using straight Model Space for years and it has worked just fine.”

That’s great, I understand that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

The real problem is when you want to make changes.

For instance, say I am drawing a floor plan for Joe Client.

Joe tells me that he needs a floor plan and a typical wall section.

Well Joe’s house is not very big so I can feasibly get the floor plan and the section on the same sheet.

I get the plan drawn at a typical size and, using standard Model Space practices, place a title block on the drawing.

We typically use 24"x36" sheets so this title block has already been “scaled up” 48 times so that when we print we just set the plot scale to ¼”=1’-0”.

Now when we draw the wall section we draw it at full scale also.

The problem is we do not want our wall section at ¼”=1’-0”.

That kind of defeats the purpose of creating a wall section as everything will be very small.

So, again when using standard Model Space practices, we scale our drawing up.

This time we scale it up 12 times to get a plotted scale of ¾”=1’-0”.

Now, when the drawing is sent to the plotter, it is plotted using ¼”=1’-0” and the result is a ¼” floor plan and a ¾” wall section.

Easy enough right?

So what’s the big deal?

Why do I need Paper Space?

Now that Joe has had an opportunity to review the drawings he has decided that instead of 2x4 exterior walls he wants 2x6 exterior walls.

Joe also wants to go from an 8” block foundation to a 12” block foundation.

You tell Joe “no problem” and go back to your drawing.

Now you have a decision to make.

“How do I make these changes easily?”

I can do one of two things.

I can grab all the geometry and scale them back down to their actual sizes, make the changes and then rescale them back up 12 times so that it prints out correctly.

Or, I can do a little math and try and draw everything “to scale”.

Going from an 8” block to 12” block should be easy enough, that is 4” times 12.

So I move the line 16” right?

But why would you do that when you have paid a lot of money for the computer you are using; let it do the “computing”.

Let’s take the same situation in a Paper Space application.

I am going to draw my floor plan and my section both at full scale.

Then I switch to Paper Space.

I am going to insert my title block into Paper Space, once again at full scale (I am assuming your title block is drawn to a full scale 24"x36"`)

Now you basically have a blank sheet with a title block much like a blank sheet of paper.

Now I type MV to open a viewport. Click like you are drawing a rectangle on you sheet.

To start out make it pretty much cover the whole sheet.

AutoCAD automatically zooms everything that is in Model Space into the viewport.

Now double click in the viewport to open it.

Pan around until the floor plan is centered in the viewport.

Now double click outside of the viewport to close it.

Select the viewport box and bring up the Properties dialogue box.

Scroll down until you find the “Viewport Scale” box.

Select the ¼”=1’-0” scale.

Then find the “Viewport Locked” box.

Change this box to “YES”.

This is very important.

Now that it is locked you cannot accidentally change the scale when you open the viewport.

Now your Viewport box is probably too big.

Just select it and pick on the grips and adjust the size to what ever you need.

Now select the Viewport and move it to make space for another Viewport.

Make another Viewport using the same procedure as above except this time pan to your wall section and set your scale to ¾”=1’-0”.

Now once all this is set up you will get to see the benefits.

The first thing is you place all your notes in Paper Space at, once again, full scale.

If you want the text to print 1/8” high, use 1/8” high text.

You can also set your dimensions up to “Scale to Viewport”.

That way you can use the same dimension style for the 1/4“drawing as the ¾” drawing.

Now when Joe wants to make changes, just go to Model Space and make your changes at full scale, then, return to Paper Space and adjust arrows as needed.

Now the best part is when you plot you set the scale to 1” = 1” or 1’-0” = 1’-0”.

Basically you are plotting 1:1 all the time.

So the benefits of using Paper Space are you are ALWAYS drawing full scale.

You do not have to try and calculate how big your text needs to be depending on the plot scale.

You only need one dimension style and text style and you only need one title block.

There is a LOT less calculating for you to do and I believe that makes you more efficient.

I have found that the problem people have with Paper Space is that they do not understand it so they decide it is not useful.

I believe that once you really try to figure Paper Space out you will have an "AH HA!" moment and wonder why you did not use it before.

Comments for Why Use Paper Space in AutoCAD?

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Jan 10, 2011
Paper Space Usage
by: Anonymous

I agree completely with this method of using paper space.

The only downfall I come across is when I insert standard blocks with annotation the text is still in model space and then you have to "CHANGE SPACE" to get the text back into paperspace and that sometimes has repercussions on text height, style etc

Jan 11, 2011
why use paperspace
by: Anonymous

Use AutoCAD a lot and know how to use paper space.

I find it a long-winded way of doing this. Even your example shows that it took longer.

To copy and paste as block is far quicker and leaves it easier for anyone else opening a drawing or editing as the don't need to switch between views to see entire drawing, especially large drawings.

Jan 11, 2011
Re: Paper Space Comments
by: Jeff

I would like to address both comments.

First, with the newer versions of AutoCAD you can set the text, dimension and the arrows to be "annotative".

Although we do not use a lot of standard blocks I believe this method may work. I would have to experiment to see. This method is also a good argument for using straight model space too but there is still one glaring drawback, which is my next point.

Second, I did not mean to be "long winded" but when writing these you never know about the experience level of the reader. As with anything new it is going to seem longer but in the end I believe that it is more efficient.

I understand that copy and paste is a very easy way to transfer from one drawing to another but that works the best when you are transferring to and from "same scaled drawings".

Where you run into a problem is when your "standard block" is drawn for a 3/4" plotted drawing but you have room to place it on a 1/4" plotted drawing.

You will have to go back and calculate what size your new text needs to be and I just do not think that re-calculating text sizes or dimension sizes is a good use of time. Especially when AutoCAD has given me a very good way to do it.

I also do not see how re-calculating the size of an object for editing is easier either. If you draw it a full size and use Paper space you can edit the entire drawing FROM Paper Space without even going into model space, that is as long as you have locked your view ports.

As I said in the tip I know there are AutoCAD users that do not agree or understand. I just feel that AutoCAD has given us a tool to help us be more efficient and productive.

Jan 21, 2011
my cad manager does not like paper space
by: Anonymous

My CAD manager does not like paper space and since I stated to work in this company, I have too many problems. For example, an architect send us a 1 to 1 plan and we need to work with 1/4", so I always have to calculate but if I worked with paper space, I never had that problem.

Jan 25, 2011
Paper Space is the way to go...
by: Vincent B. Preston

I've been using model space since I started ACAD Release 12 in 1996... All my customers were pleased with the results... About a year ago, a new prospect requested I prepare their shop drawings in paper space... It took me about a week to get the hang of it. I liked the idea of having different scaled sections/details on one sheet, and now I use paper space for all my customer's shop drawings... I now realize the advantage of using paper space over model space...

Mar 24, 2011
Not for 2d drafting
by: Anonymous

When working with 3d software such as SolidWorks, Pro/E, Catia etc., model space and paper space make a lot of sense and are a natural way to go.

You create your 3d model in model space (lets say it is a hammer), and than in paper space magically appear any view of your hammer - top, side, bottom, isometric whatever. Also dimensions magically appear.

More, they magically change by themselves whenever you change the model length, shape, location of holes etc in model space.

With AutoCAD I still fail to see why bother with paper space. All dimensions you still have to add by yourself.

If you change anything in model space to your floor plan, you then have a headache of changing all the dimensions in paper space.

Not worth it, IMHO.

Besides, black model space background and white paper space conflict in terms of elements color.

Yellow looks sharp on black, but is invisible on white, as are cyan, green and others. If you use yellow notes in model space, it is hard to see them in paper space.

OK, details with different scale sound good, but there are still much more cons. again, IMHO.

Apr 05, 2011
RE: Not for 2D Drafting
by: Anonymous

You can dimension in model space and they will scale automatically as needed. You can also change the paper space layout color in the settings. I changed it to black. That white is horrible.

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