Terrific Text Tips (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

31 Jul, 2007 By: Lynn Allen

Check your wish list: AutoCAD 2008 offers major Mtext updates, spiffy spell check options, and multiline attributes.

At first glance I didn't think there were enough improvements in the world of text in AutoCAD 2008 to merit an entire article, but I've now changed my mind as I've worked more and more with the product! Because it's a very rare drawing that makes it out the door without some type of text annotations, we can all benefit from learning about the latest and greatest text features and improvements.

Mtext Gains Savvy
Many of us prefer using Microsoft Word to create lengthy amounts of text, especially because Word has so many advantages over the clunky Mtext command. If you've gone to great lengths to get your text just right in Word only to be severely disappointed by the final result when you brought that text into AutoCAD, you'll love the improvements in AutoCAD 2008. Mtext now brings across text height, fonts, and spacing from Word into AutoCAD -- and that's a beautiful thing. Let's take a look.

Notice the variable line spacing, text heights, and fonts that exist in the Word document pictured below. The paragraph spaces are varied, the first three lines have different text heights, and I've changed the font for the word "existing" to Country Blue Print. In previous releases of AutoCAD, all the text would come in as the same height with the same spacing and the same font -- end of story! In fact, the text font used in AutoCAD would depend on the current text style or setting in the Mtext command. With AutoCAD 2008 you'll have a much happier ending as the text heights, line spacing, and fonts remain intact as you bring them into your drawings with Mtext.

Text created in MS Word with varying text heights, line spacing, and fonts.

Here I simply copy the text to the clipboard from my Word document and then paste it into my Mtext editor. Here's the pleasantly surprising outcome!

The text heights, line spacing, and fonts are maintained in AutoCAD 2008.

You'll also find a new dialog box in Mtext aimed at helping you get just the paragraph results you are after as seen below. Here you'll find all the options you need to get the exact paragraph spacing, alignment, and indents you you need You can also control your tab settings within this dialog box instead of the in-place editor's ruler, if you prefer.

Note that some of these new paragraph options don't go back to previous releases gracefully. Specifically, I'm talking about paragraphs with justified or distributed alignments. If you plan on exchanging your data with others who aren't yet on AutoCAD 2008, you might want to hold off on using these new settings.

Use the new Paragraph dialog box in Mtext to get your correct spacing and indents.

Columns in Mtext

It's easy to turn on columns using the new options in the Mtext dialog box.
Another big wish list request has been the ability to easily create columns of Mtext. Until now we've had to tediously construct columns of text ourselves -- but no longer! Mtext's new Columns option does much of this work for you. You can find these new options in the lower-left corner of the Mtext command bar.

There are two rules regarding columns: all columns must have the same width and the same gutter width (the space between the columns). I like to use the Dynamic columns option because it lets you create your columns with grips. Simply grab the lower-right grip to indicate the desired area for the columns to fill and AutoCAD does the work for you. Dynamic columns are text-driven in that adjustments made to the columns affects the text flow, which can lead to more columns being added or removed.

Assigning a specific number of static columns to existing text evenly breaks up the text into the desired number of columns. You can use grips to manipulate the outcome here as well. Use the Column Settings dialog (within Mtext) to get the exact results needed for your columns when exact widths are needed. You can use the Properties palette to control the various column properties as well. If you want to force a column break yourself, you can do so by typing Alt+Enter, or by selecting Insert Column Break from the drop-down menu.

Use the Column Settings dialog box for more control over your columns.

I almost invariably get a round of applause when I demonstrate the new column features in Mtext during my presentations -- especially when the audience sees how easy they are to work with.

Tip. The fastest way to exit the Mtext dialog box is to simply pick outside of the dialog box -- no more hunting for the OK button.

Spell Bound Spell Check
The Spell Checker (Spell command) in AutoCAD 2008 has some very nice additions. First off you no longer need to select text to check. By default it now assumes you want to check all the text in the drawing. In addition, when AutoCAD finds a spelling error, it zooms in on the discrepancy rather than leaving you to guess where the offending word lies. Fabulous! Be sure to add words that are specific to your industry or company to the custom dictionary so it doesn't ask about them time and time again. And it helps your dictionary get smarter and smarter.

The Settings options in the Spell Checker gives you more control over the text selection set. Being able to spell check your dimension text is also a nice new addition. You may opt to ignore words with numbers as well as those words with punctuation or perhaps even capitalized words.

Use the Settings option to properly configure your spell checker.

Multiline Attributes

Use the Multiple lines mode to create attribute text that spans more than one line.
One last feature that is somewhat related to text (if you squint). For those of you who have yearned for the ability to create attributes that were more than one line of text, your wish has finally been granted. You'll find a new Multiple lines mode inside of the Attribute Definition command (Attdef). Hoorah!

Spend some time trying out the new text features inside AutoCAD 2008. You'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to generate columns, work with Word documents, and run spell checks inside AutoCAD 2008. Until next month, Happy AutoCADing!

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