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Choosing an Appropriate Drawing Scale

Any drawing that depicts physical objects that are too small or too large to be drawn easily, or are larger than the paper size, must be scaled to fit on the page. For example, in an architectural rendering of a house, 1/4 inch on the drawing page might represent 1 foot of the actual house. Schematic diagrams, such as flowcharts and organization charts, depict abstract objects; therefore, these types of drawings are unscaled.

In Microsoft® Visio®, drawing units are sizes in the real world. In the previous example of a house, 1 foot is the drawing unit. Page units are sizes on the printed page—1/4 inch in the house example. The ratio of page units to drawing units is the drawing scale.

ShapeSheet® cells that describe object size or position—that is, most cells—are expressed in drawing units. Cells that represent measurements on the printed page, such as text format and indents, are shown in page units. If the drawing scale is changed, all ShapeSheet cells that are expressed in drawing units remain constant, but the shape is redrawn to the new scale.

In this section...

Understanding Drawing Scale and Page Scale

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Drawing Scale

Understanding Drawing Scale and Page Scale

To understand how drawing scale and page scale relate to each other, consider the swimming pool in the following figure. The pool is 40 feet long and 20 feet wide, drawn using a 1-point line, and labeled using 8-point type.

With a drawing scale of 1/4 inch = 1 foot (1:48), the picture of the pool is drawn 10 inches long by 5 inches wide. If you change the drawing scale to 1/8 inch = 1 foot (1:96), the pool is still 40 feet long and 20 feet wide; however, the picture of the pool is now only 5 inches by 21/2 inches. Regardless of the scale, the line size remains 1 point and the font size 8 points.

The pool is 40 ft by 20 ft in drawing units, regardless of the drawing scale.

The pool is 40 ft by 20 ft in drawing units, regardless of the drawing scale.

  1. Drawing scale: 1/4 in. = 1 ft (1:48)
  1. In page units, the pool is 10 in. by 5 in. in this drawing scale.
  1. Drawing scale: 1/8 in. = 1 ft. (1:96)
  1. In page units, the pool is 5 in. by 2-1/2 in. in this drawing scale.

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Factors to Consider in Choosing a Drawing Scale

To choose the appropriate drawing scale to include in a template, consider the following:

  • The expected size of the drawing, in drawing units
  • The paper size on which users will print their drawings
  • The industry or drawing conventions that apply to the drawing type users create with your template, such as margins or title blocks

For example, a user can print a house plan on an 81/2-inch by 11-inch sheet of paper, in landscape orientation. If the drawing scale is 1/4 inch = 1 foot, the drawing page represents 34 feet by 44 feet (assuming no margins are set for the printed page). An area of 34 feet by 44 feet might not be large enough to accommodate the house and its landscape design. Instead, you might choose a smaller scale, such as 1/8 inch = 1 foot or 1 inch = 10 feet.

Tip Drawing units can represent measurements other than distance. You can use elapsed time rather than distance for a page scale by setting the drawing units to hours, days, weeks, months, and so on. For example, you can use elapsed weeks (abbreviated "ew" in ShapeSheet formulas) as the drawing units for the diagram of a project timeline. For a complete list of units, see the Microsoft Visio Developer Reference (on the Help menu, click Developer Reference).

To set the drawing scale for a page

  1. On the File menu, click Page Setup, and then click the Page Properties tab.
  1. For Measurement units, select the drawing units you want, and then click the Page Size tab.
  1. Under Page Size, choose the orientation and size of paper on which the drawing will be printed.
  • The values in the
  • Page Size
  • tab show you the drawing unit measurements of your page according to the selected scale and paper size.
  1. Click the Drawing Scale tab, and then under Drawing scale, choose a predefined scale from the list:
  • Click Architectural, Civil Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering to select from among the built-in industry-standard scales for these professions.
  • Click Metric to set a standard metric page scale ratio.
  • Or, click
  • Custom scale
  • and enter a scale ratio to define a different scale.

Tip To ensure that a master you create matches the drawing scale for a template's page, edit the master and repeat the preceding procedure in the master drawing window. For details, see Setting the Scale of a Master later in this chapter.

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