Dimensions Standards (Working with VectorWorks Tutorial)

30 Apr, 2008 By: Jonathan Pickup

Making your own dimension standards will let you customize the way the dimensions look.

Editor's note: This tutorial provided courtesy of ArchonCAD.

This month's tutorial will focus on dimension standards, which are the settings for your dimensions. You can use premade dimension standards (and VectorWorks comes with several), or you can make your own. Making your own dimension standards will let you customize the way the dimensions look. You can make dimensions that will suit your usual drafting style.

First let's set the units for the file. The unit settings will have an impact on the dimensions. We can tell VectorWorks to use the primary dimensions or secondary dimensions.

Start a new file using your template file.
Go to the Menu Bar.
Choose File / Document Setup / Units
Click on the General Display tab.

Choosing the units and rounding will make it easier for you to see what you have drawn. For example, if you choose square meters as the area, VectorWorks will convert areas on the Object Info palette to sq.m., which I personally find more useful. If you are working in feet and inches, you may find it better to have areas displayed in square feet.

Click on the Dimension Objects (Secondary) tab. This part of the dialog box is where you control the settings for secondary dimensions. When you create a dimension standard, you can choose whether it displays primary or secondary dimensions. You can choose your units here as well.

Now that you have set your units, let's look at the dimension settings.

Go to the Menu Bar.
Choose File / Document Settings / Document Preferences
Choose the Dimensions Tab


Turn on the Associate Dimensions option. This is really useful for associating the dimensions to the objects. When you change the size or location of the object, the dimension updates.

The Dimension Standard shown on this dialog box is the dimension standard that will be applied to the next dimension you place on the drawing. This is where we change our custom dimensions.

Click on the Custom button.
Click on the New button to make a new dimension standard.
Name the dimension standard so you can find it easily.
Click OK.

This has created the standard, but you have not edited the standard yet. For now, your new dimension standard is a perfect copy of the standard that was shown on the Dimension Standard pop-up menu.

Click on the Edit button.

Here you see the default dimension settings. If you don't like these settings, you can change them by editing them.


Here are my edited dimension settings. You can see that I have changed all the settings. There are pop-up menus you can click on to choose your option and edit boxes for you to type in the sizes you want. You can use my settings as a guide, but you should print your dimensions before deciding if you like the settings you have entered.


When you have finished your editing, close the dialog box by clicking on the OK button.

Click OK to return to the Document Preferences dialog box.
Now choose your new dimension standard from the dimension standard pop-up. This will cause VectorWorks to assign all new dimensions to your standard.


Click on the Custom button.
Click on the New button.

Name this dimension standard so it will be easy to find. My secondary dimensions are set to meters, and this new dimension standard will use the secondary units, so it will suit site plans. I've named my dimension standard Site Plans because that's where I'll use it.

Click on the Edit button. Notice that the settings are a copy of the first dimension standard we set up. This is because we chose Plans as the dimension standard on the Document Preferences dialog box. We want our new standard to look the same as the old standard, but we want this dimension standard to use different units. We want this standard to use the secondary units.

At the bottom right there is a pop-up menu to choose the Layout. Click on this and choose one of the dual options. The dual layout options will use both the primary and secondary dimensions styles. This is why I went back to the units dialog box to check the units.


Go to the pop-up menu at the bottom right and choose the Dual View. This controls the look of the dual units. Click on this and choose Secondary Only. Now our dimensions will only display the secondary units on the dimension.


Click OK to close the Custom Dimension settings.
Click OK to close the Custom Dimension dialog box.
Click OK to close the Document Preferences.

Now you can create two dimensions with the dimension tool. Select one of the dimensions.

Go to the Object Info palette and click on the Dim Std pop-up menu. This pop-up is for choosing the dimension standard to apply to the dimension. If you have carried out the instructions correctly, the menu will currently show your first dimension standard. Choose your second dimension standard from the pop-up list.

You can see my two dimensions. The bottom dimension uses primary dimensions and the top dimension is using secondary dimensions. They should look similar, but display different unit types.

Now that you have the dimensions the way you want; however, these settings are only in this file. That means that if you want all your projects to use these dimension standards, you should save this file as your new template file.

Go to the Menu Bar.
Choose File / Save As Template
Save the file to your Templates folder (it's in the VectorWorks application folder). Name the file DEFAULT.STA, and replace the old template.

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