Making Text Work In CAD
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Making Text Work In CAD

Friday, 19 May 2023
Video Length:  1:04:17
Presented By:  Jake Lott

Text has historically been difficult to work with in CAD, with the intricacies of achieving proper sizing and font selection presenting challenges unique to the application. Join us to learn the essentials of how to use letters, numbers, and other characters effectively in CAD, including how to work with Text Styles and the Text Manager. We'll provide some handy techniques for standardizing and organizing your text, along with a tutorial on the wonderful world of TrueType fonts. This is one text message you won't want to ignore!

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
    • Native CAD
    • History of Text
    • Understand the Importance of Scale Factors
    • How Text Is Set & Defined in CAD
  • Intro to Land F/X & Text
    • Benefits of Text Styles
  • Everything Else
    • TrueType vs. SHX
    • Dealing With Errors
  • Land F/X & Text
    • More Benefits of Text Styles
    • More Land F/X Text Tools

0:00 – 5:59: Intro/TOC

6:00 – 13:58: Native CAD

History of Text (6:00)

In metal typesetting, the font size was defined by the metal cube where the font was molded, typically by the distance between the ascender and descender.


In digital fonts, the size is defined by the "em square" (M square) – an invisible area around the font where the side length equals the point size like unto metal typesetting.


Font size:

  • Point size refers to the height of the font – not the height of the letter.
  • For digital publishing, for at least the past 30 years or more, 1 point = 1//72 inch.
  • 1 point = 1/72"
  • 12 points = 1 pica
  • 6 picas = 1"


72pt font = 1"


This means that there is .01389" per point.


Multiplying .01389 by the desired point size will give you Paper Space height text.



Understand the Importance of Scale Factors (11:34)

What about Model Space? For non-annotative text, we need to know the proper scale factor in order to set the correct text height.




How Text Is Set & Defined in CAD (13:23)

13:59 – 15:01: Intro to Land F/X & Text

Benefits of Text Styles (13:59)

Text Manager (13:59)


Setting the plot scale (14:44)

15:02 – 48:09: Everything Else

TrueType vs. SHX (15:02)

Bottom line: Stop using SHX fonts (please)!


Issues with SHX:

  • CAD-specific font type
  • Don't have full character sets
  • Importing PDF text issues
  • PDF file size is larger
  • Cannot search text in PDFs
  • No previews of the style
  • Lower graphic quality
  • Thickness affected by plot style
  • Revit does NOT support shape-files – only TTF


Issues with TTF

  • Some TTFs are really OTFs. (CAD doesn't support open type fonts.)
  • Some fonts don't have full character set.
  • Some memory issues have occurred.


For better or worse:

TrueType (TTF) fonts are installed in the operating system font folder (C:\Windows\Fonts). 

Shape Files (SHX) fonts reside anywhere in the file support search path AND/OR where the DWG resides.


Important: Copyright needs to be considered for BOTH file types!


SHX vs TTF: Remember to look at the available character set availability when looking for fonts!


SHX vs TTF: Go explore!

Start simple: Open MS Word and check out your options, then venture out!




Dealing With Errors (24:45)

The importance of cleaning your drawing files (24:45)


Checking the installed Windows fonts in the Start menu (25:59)


Opening the Registry Editor and opening the Fonts key (HKey Local Machine > Software > Microsoft > Windows NT > Fonts) as an admin (26:25)


Investigating font errors at the Command prompt – again as an admin (28:31)


Discussion of why you should be using TrueType fonts rather than SHX fonts (30:20)


Example of dealing with a Missing SHX font error (33:34)


Troubleshooting a file mapping issue (42:14)

48:10 – end: Land F/X & Text

More Benefits of Text Styles (48:10)


Setting Up & Creating Your Standards (49:41)

Preference Sets (49:41)


Redefining all Text Styles in your drawing using our Redefine All Text Styles (REAT) tool (50:28)


Adding a new Text Style in the General Preferences (52:28)


Placing text in your drawing (52:51)



More Land F/X Text Tools (56:11)

Changing Text to Multiline Text (MText) using our Text2MText tool (56:11)


Changing MText to a multileader (MLeader) using our MText2MLeader tool (57:46)


Changing text into an attribute using our Text2Attrib tool (58:50)


Redefining all text in multiple files using our BatchMan tool (1:00:02)


Font sources:


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