Prepare for an AutoCAD import

If you want Visio’s drawing scale to match the drawing scale of an imported AutoCAD drawing, then you’ll want to prepare for the import. There are properties to set in AutoCAD, and there are properties to set in Visio. This article will walk you through the process.

Set properties in AutoCAD

Prior to importing the AutoCAD drawing into Visio, you should do a few things in AutoCAD. If you do not have access to the AutoCAD program, ask the creator of the file to do the following:

Select a layout tab that will work best in Visio, and then save the AutoCAD file. Later, when you import the file into Visio, this will be the layout that is imported. Please note that Visio requires a layout tab with a viewport. Don’t select the Model tab, because this tab doesn’t have a viewport.

On the layout tab, select a viewport, and then make a note of the drawing scale in the lower-right corner. If this is currently set to Scale to fit, we recommend setting this to a standard scale instead. Choosing a standard scale makes working with the drawing easier in Visio. For example, choose a standard metric scale like 1:1, 1:2, 1:5, etc. For an imperial scale, choose 1/4" = 1’ 0", 1/2" = 1’, and so on.

Tip: Jot down this scale on a piece of paper, because you will use it later when importing the drawing into Visio.

In AutoCAD, type Units, and then press ENTER. Make sure that a standard unit of measurement like millimeters or inches is specified.

  1. Now you’ll check the plot settings. Press CTRL+P.

  2. Make a note of the paper size and orientation. You’ll use the same size and orientation in Visio.

  3. Under Plot Scale, look for the units specified under Scale. If the units are the same as the drawing units identified above, skip to step 6 below. If the units are different, go to step 5.

This step is only necessary if the AutoCAD drawing units are different from the plot units. If they're the same, skip to step 6 below. If they differ, this means that there is a second scale in the drawing called a plot scale. Although this works fine in AutoCAD, Visio may not display the drawing as you expect. To work around this problem, you’ll do a simple calculation to arrive at an adjusted page scale for Visio. You won’t use this adjusted scale in AutoCAD. You only use it when setting the page scale in Visio, prior to importing the drawing.

To arrive at the adjusted scale, multiply the viewport scale by the plot scale. Here’s a typical example of how to calculate the adjusted page scale for metric units:

  • Viewport scale: 1:10

  • Drawing units: Centimeters

  • Plots units: Millimeters

  • Plot scale: 1 mm = 1 cm. Or, the plot scale expressed as a ratio: 1:10.

  • Calculate an adjusted scale for Visio: (1:10) x (1:10) = 1:100.
    You’ll use this adjusted page scale for Visio’s page, prior to importing the drawing.

Here’s another example using US units:

  • Viewport scale: 1/4" to 1’. Or, expressed in inches: 1/4" to 12".

  • Drawing units: Feet

  • Plot units: Inches

  • Plot scale: 1" to 1 ft. Or, expressed in inches: 1" to 12".

  • Calculate an adjusted page scale for Visio: (1/4":12") x (1":12") = 1/4":144 inches. Or, 1/4" to 12’.
    You’ll use this adjusted page scale for Visio’s page, prior to importing the drawing.

With the above completed, save the AutoCAD drawing:

  • If you are a subscriber of Visio Pro for Office 365, you can save a .dwg or .dxf file from AutoCAD versions 2007 through 2017.

  • If you are not a subscriber, make sure to save the file as an AutoCAD 2007 .dwg or .dxf file.

Set properties in Visio

You can always import an AutoCAD drawing into a blank Visio drawing. However, we recommend starting with one of Visio’s templates before importing. A template gives you premade stencils and shapes that make working with the AutoCAD file useful. For example, the Office Layout template provides furniture shapes that you can lay on top of the AutoCAD drawing. And the Plant Layout template provides machine and equipment shapes for you.

If you have Visio Standard, the Office Layout template is the one floor plan template that will work well with an AutoCAD file. If you have Visio Professional, you can choose from the following templates. Open Visio (or click File > New if it’s already open), and then search for any of the following templates:

  • Electrical and Telecom plan

  • Floor Plan

  • Home Plan

  • HVAC Control Logic Diagram

  • HVAC Plan

  • Office Layout

  • Part and Assembly Drawing

  • Plant Layout

  • Plumbing and Piping Plan

  • Rack Diagram

  • Reflected Ceiling Plan

  • Security and Access Plan

  • Site Plan

  • Space Plan

  1. At the bottom of the Visio window, right-click the page tab, and then click Page Setup.

  2. Click the Page Size tab. The Page Size tab sets the size of the drawing page in Visio. To make things easier, we recommend setting the Visio page size to match the AutoCAD page size.

  3. Under Pre-defined size, select the same page size that was set in AutoCAD.

  4. Under Page orientation, select the same orientation that was set in AutoCAD.

  5. Click the Print Setup tab. The Print Setup tab allows you to set the size of the printed page. If you want the printed page to match the drawing page, you can choose the same size and orientation options here. If you don’t see the printer options you want, click cancel and select a different printer by going to File > Print.

  1. Click the Drawing Scale tab.

  2. Click Pre-defined scale, and then choose the same scale of the viewport in AutoCAD. If you don’t see a scale that matches yours, click Custom Scale and then type in your scale. You can type in decimal format, or you can type in fraction format. For example, type 1/16 in. and then click Apply, and Visio will automatically calculate 0.0625 inches for you.

    Note: If you calculated an adjusted scale for Visio above, this is where you specify that scale. Click Custom Scale and then type in your adjusted scale.

  3. Finally, click the Page Properties tab, and then specify a unit of measurement. We recommend using the same unit as the AutoCAD drawing.

You've prepared the AutoCAD drawing and the Visio page. Now you can import an AutoCAD drawing at the same scale as it was in AutoCAD.

See Also

Introduction to working with AutoCAD drawings in Visio

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