We all know that Plotting underwent a huge change in the transition from AutoCAD 14 to AutoCAD 2000 and many people still feel that it became much more complicated. Well, if you still feel that you are struggling with plotting or that it should be easier, there are some things that you can do. The first is to understand and take advantage of the fact that your plotting settings are saved in each Layout in your drawing. That means that if you get a Layout set up to plot correctly once, then it should be ready to plot correctly the next time you need it. This saved information includes everything from the Plotter Configuration and Plot Style Table on the Plot Device Tab to the Paper Size, Scale, Plot area, and more on the Layout Settings Tab.
To take the concept a bit further if that Layout is set up correctly you should not need to create a second layout that plots the same way from scratch. You can copy the existing layout by right-clicking on the Layout Tab and selecting Move or
Copy. This will create a copy of the Layout including both the Paper Space geometry and the Plotting Settings.
Layouts can also be copied from other drawings or drawing templates by right-clicking on the Layout Tab and selecting From template…
This will take you to the select Template dialog box. Here you can not only select a drawing template that contains your desired Layout but you can also change the Files of Type option to select a Drawing file that contains a Layout you would like to copy. Once you select Open you are shown a list of the Layouts that reside within the selected drawing or template. Select the desired Layout and it will be copied into your current drawing.
You can also copy a Layout from an existing drawing or template file by using the Design Center. Just find the desired drawing or template file in the Design Center and expand it. Then select the layout option under the drawing name to display a list of Layouts. Finally just right-click on the desired Layout and select add Layout(s).
Finally and maybe most importantly you should save your commonly used Layouts to a drawing template. This way when you create a new drawing base on that template the Layout is automatically included in your new drawing. This will allow you to skip the options above because the template will already be there ready to use. To save a drawing as a template just remove any geometry that you don’t want to include in the template and then select File >> Saveas. In the Save Drawing As dialog box under Files of Type select AutoCAD Drawing Template (*.dwt). You are automatically taken to your drawing template folder as defined in your AutoCAD Options. Then name your template and select<<Save>>.
I hope that this has helped to clarify some of the issues surrounding Layouts and their use with drawing templates. When used correctly they can make plotting relatively painless. In Part 2 we will dig a little deeper and look at using multiple Page Setups within a Layout.