Civil 3D Template Development – Part 2 – CAD Standards

CAD Standards can’t be ignored when building Civil 3D Templates.  You still need layers with colors and linetypes.  You still need text styles.  And you still need to choose between STB (named plot style table) and CTB (color-dependent plot style table).

Text Styles

We’ll start with text styles since those are the easiest.  You can use a single text style for all of your label styles.  Different label styles can have different sizes but still use the same style.  Can you use the Standard text style?  Absolutely.  The most common style and font that I’m seeing clients use these days are Standard and Arial respectively.  We’ll talk about how to set all label and table styles to use a particular text style on a future post discussing Styles.

Plot Style Tables

Most civil/survey firms are still using CTB files for plotting.  With CTB files, you associate a pen weight and screening value to a color.  This is how they did it when they started using CAD and is how they are still doing it.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

With STB files, you associate a plot style to a layer.  The color is not part of the equation.  The lineweight can either be associated to the layer or to the plot style.  I prefer this method.  I like the idea of no longer worrying about what color a layer is.  I wish more clients would get on board.  I think the toughest sell for STB is the fact that many organizations don’t have decent layer standards.  It’s hard to assign a plot style to a layer if there’s not a layer in the first place.  But in Civil 3D you can’t get around layers in the templete, you must have the layers set up to create an effective template.  So why not set them up with lineweights and plot styles?


You must address what your AutoCAD layer standards will be before beginning your work on template development.  The OOTB (out of the box) template included with Civil 3D (_AutoCAD Civil 3D (Imperial) NCS.dwt) uses a layering standard based loosely on the National CAD Standard.  I recommend that you purchase the NCS online – it’s a great reference.  Two examples of NCS layer names are as follows:

  • C-PROF is the NCS layer name for Civil Profile
  • C-PROF-GRID-MAJR is the NCS layer name for Civil Profile Grid Major

Note the C designation for civil discipline.  Note the 4 letter major and minor categories.  This is all explained very clearly in the National CAD Standards.  I think the NCS is a good layering standard:  It’s simple to follow and a good place to start if you currently don’t have a layer system.

In the next part of this blog series, we’ll discuss object layers.  Object layers are a good place to start your template development because it forces you to address your layering standards right away.

Assignment of colors, linetypes, and lineweights to the layers will be an iterative process.  It’s hard to get it right the first time.  The lineweight and grayscale output from plotters can differ – you may have to play with your colors to get the desired screening output.

CAD Standards Manager

When I build Civil 3D Templates, I have CAD Standards Manager running along side.  CSM helps address the 1000-lb gorilla.  When using CSM, we don’t have to choose CTB vs. STB initially as it will allow either system when creating layers.  Further, I like layer descriptions and these get created automatically with CSM – it can be extremely tedious typing this in manually.  Lastly, CSM allows me to assign colors, linetypes, and lineweights more quickly and intuitively.

In the next part of this series, we’ll get started on building your Civil 3D template.

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