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Sheet sizing standards

Sheet sizing standards

Sheet sizing standards


I'm trying to figure out whether there's merit in standardizing the sheet size for all drawings or picking the sheet size such that the part is drawn to scale. What is the industry practice here? I can think of pros and cons for both approaches. Having a standard sheet size means the font sizes/tables and such would remain consistent when viewed on a screen. On the other hand, having the part drawn to scale on the appropriate sheet size might help the manufacturer/inspector if they're using a printed copy of the drawing and have the ability to print multiple sheet sizes.


RE: Sheet sizing standards

Personally I find a large format single sheet drawing easier to work with, my practice is to try and draw at 1:1 (obviously very small parts have to be scaled up and large parts down) and pick sheet size accordingly to accommodate this going to larger sheet format rather than additional sheets when necessary.

The concession we've made to most drawing getting printed onto B is that we set the font size to .15 instead of the typical .12/3 mm.

A D size printed on B is pretty legible at this size and an E size is workable for most folks.

Typically when I've seen people standardize on a sheet size they've picked B/Tabloid/A3 as "that's the largest most printers will handle".

This then means the border format and standard notes... take up a very large % of the available space if you keep to the font sizes & border formats in ASME stds etc.

This then leads to very cramped drawings with lots of sheets.

(Our CAD template actually defaults to D size with the intention that folks then select the appropriate size. Unfortunately a lot of people just stick with D regardless so we have some unnecessarily cramped drawings of large/complex part or we have some drawings of small simple parts at very large scale that still don't take up much space. We even had one Phd who instead of choosing the appropriate size sheet decided to stick with the default D and instead dig deeper on some drawings and change the font size to 1/4 of an inch or so.)

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RE: Sheet sizing standards

I too prefer working with D or E size prints, as opposed to a stack of A or B size prints.

... but lots of outfits have thrown out their large format printer/plotters, possibly because minimum wage monkeys screwed them up, or they just got tired of buying expensive paper and expensive ink.

For that reason, it might be better, or less awful, to standardize on a C sheet for drawings, and check for readability on an A size printer.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Sheet sizing standards


I have seen a shop that standardized on A and B size for their 11×17" printer. They developed a highly compressed title-block, to leave as much space as possible for the drawing. I thought their system was workable, although I would strongly prefer access to a plotter.


RE: Sheet sizing standards

I agree with the above. Our default size is D also, but we never print full size any more. We scale down to B-size (to fit our printer) when a hardcopy is necessary.

If you deal with ISO formats (A4, A3, etc) the scaling issue is better because the aspect ratio is the same for all of them, unlike ANSI sheet sizes.

I did work for a company that only used A-size drawings, because the engineering manager was "emotionally attached" to the printer. Not only that, but sheet 1 was the end-item drawing, sheet 2 was the 2nd turning op, sheet 3 was the milling operations, and sheet 4 was the 1st turning op. They had products that were 2-3 feet long, with machining details as small as .010, and the whole thing had to be crammed onto a single A-size piece of paper because additional sheets were already pre-defined as operational steps.

I asked the engineering manager to allow us to go to B-size, because an A/B printer was cheap and a single-folded B-Size paper still fit nicely in the travelers.
I asked why we couldn't draw on any sheet size and print scaled down to A-size.
Don't let your managers get emotionally attached to a printer.


RE: Sheet sizing standards

A, B and C, D sizes can all be printed on a standard printer with either 8.5x11 or 11x17 paper and still be legible. It depends on the scale of your parts. I was at one company where everything was B-size, and some drawings were 8 pages due to details. This was long before MBD was mainstream and everything had to be defined.

"Art without engineering is dreaming; Engineering without art is calculating."

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RE: Sheet sizing standards

Depending on what type of parts you make, create whatever fits and prints whatever is legible. If they are small part, you make them on B size. I prefer D size and scale them up so detail is not lost when not printed on 11x17. Scale is meaningless, and is not scalable from a printer anyway.
On all drawings I indicate "Scale = None".

Chris, CSWP
SolidWorks '16
ctophers home
SolidWorks Legion

RE: Sheet sizing standards

ok, I think a convention where I could use a larger sheet size (C,D) for more complex parts and smaller sheet sizes(A,B) for relatively simpler ones (a large rectangular plate with 4 holes e.g.) is what I'm leaning towards based on this discussion. I would give more weight to complexity than the scale of the parts.

RE: Sheet sizing standards

At my company, every drawing we create is ANSI B size, with no deviation.

Reasoning for this is that we very rarely design one-off parts- we design systems, and our deliverables to customers and end users include a complete drawing book, which is usually 150-200 sheets on the low end. Trying to collate three or four different size drawings into a single book is additional labor and it sometimes makes the drawings hard to find in the book.

We do design individual components which often have very fine details required, but they all ultimately have to make it into the project book- so they match the format that layouts, electrical, and all other drawings are on.

It is absolutely a compromise- occasionally a complicated part requires more detail sheets than I would like, but to me the trade off is worth it.

One of the benefits is that there are zero questions about what size fonts should be, which title block should be used, etc. We have exactly one title block, exactly one BOM format, exactly one revision table format, etc. Makes it very easy for the engineers (who do all of the drafting here).

This approach, of course, may not be best for you or for anyone else.

RE: Sheet sizing standards

Quote (KENAT)

We have settings in our CAD for each of the things you list jgKRI based on sheet size. Maybe it's 2 extra mouse clicks per drawing compared to your set up.

We have those settings too- but correct settings don't make a bunch of A-size sheets look nice in a B-size book.

I'm not saying my method is the only way, or the best way, for anyone other than me- I'm just explaining the rational for one of the many approaches to answering OP's question.

RE: Sheet sizing standards

In some cases, the reason why someone would want to go to a bigger sheet size when making drawings in a CAD program (to draw to scale/include more views or such) is so that the ratio between your drawing and the dimensions fonts become larger. Hence, It makes sense to stick with one sheet size only i.e. the largest sheet size you can pick such that the letters are still legible on a A size sheet which is what I usually print drawings on. In my case, this turns out to be a C size sheet if you stick with the minimum letter size standard in Y14.2 of 0.12"in

RE: Sheet sizing standards


The advantage of an E size or A0 size sheet is that you can get a great deal of readable data on it. This is important if you are doing an arrangement drawing of a complex assembly, or a fabrication drawing of a large, complex part. These large drawings do not fit on desks and workbenches. They must be hung on walls. Even D and A1 size can be hard for some people to manage. When I create installation drawings for our customers, I do not exceed C size, for all sorts of reasons, mostly noted above.

I strongly prefer to draw my fabrication drawings at 1:1 scale. If the part fits on a B size drawing, I use B size.


RE: Sheet sizing standards

I do most of my work on B sized sheets, however sometimes when a lot of detail is required I will draw on a D or E sized sheet , then if I need to get that plotted , I will save it as a DXF file and take it to a Blueprint service shop.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

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