Section 4: Drafting Guidelines

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Accurate, clear and consistent plans are essential in obtaining accurate bids, efficient construction, and reliable permanent records. The consistent use of uniform drafting guidelines will increase the efficiency in which the plans are reviewed by the contractors prior to bidding and improve their understanding of the contract's intent. It is highly recommended that designers and technicians use uniform drafting styles regardless of whether the plans are prepared by hand or by CADD. The intent is to produce consistent, accurate, and legible sets of plans. Do not clutter the plans with unnecessary information.

This section discusses the following drafting guidelines:

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Drafting Conventions

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  • Show existing topography at a weight of 0 and a line style of dot. (LC=1)
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  • Show proposed features at a weight of 1–2 and a line style of solid. (LC=0)
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  • Show centerlines and control lines at a weight of 0–1 and a line style of dash-dot. (LC=4)
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  • Show R.O.W. lines at a weight of 0–1(existing) or 2–4 (new) and a line style of dash-dot-dot. (LC=6)
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  • Show hidden lines at a weight of 0–1 and a line style of short dash. (LC=2)
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  • Show leader, dimension and extension lines at a weight of 0 and a line style of solid. (LC=0)
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  • Scale of drawing/sheet should be clearly shown, including not-to-scale (NTS) items.
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Annotation Conventions

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  • Show all text with a font of 22 (TXLEROY). Exception: decorative fonts on Title Sheet.
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  • Show all text with a line style of solid. Exception: screening annotation for existing elements.
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  • Size all text to plot at standard scales listed below.
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  • Unusually large text sizes are unnecessary. Exception: decorative fonts on Title Sheet.
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  • Use minimum or usual size text, font 1, left top justification for blocks of text.
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  • Avoid clutter. Pull annotation away from the picture.
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  • Line up annotation.
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  • Break leader lines at conflicts only where readability would be improved.
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  • Group leader lines at about the same angle for neatness.
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  • Use a circular arc for curved leaders.
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  • Minimize mixing of curved and straight leaders on the same page.
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  • Include only the annotation required for construction. Exception: hydraulic calculations.
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  • Additional designer’s notes may be placed above the sheet in CADD files. Exception: alignment annotation is placed in the master file.
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  • Place annotation in the individual sheet files rather than master design or map files.
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  • Avoid odd abbreviations and squeezing text to fit. Move it or shorten it instead.
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  • Reference file clip masking to clear annotation can be minimized by better text location.
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Design Files

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  • Complete all design in one or more master design files, not individual sheets. Attach master design file(s) to sheets as a reference file. To avoid problems, do not copy them. This enables drafting modifications and/or updates to be performed in a single file rather than multiple sheet files. Avoid attaching reference file with save full path.
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  • All master design files should be 2D, unrotated, full scale, real world coordinates. All projects are to be developed using NAD83 English State Plane coordinates.
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  • Multiple master design files (for TOPO, ROADWAY, DRAINAGE, BRIDGE, etc.) allow several designers to work on different parts of the project at the same time while referencing each other's work.
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  • Place all features at exact coordinates, not eyeballed - designers will snap to them. Since some features may be used by designers for other calculations or details features should be placed by exact coordinates to avoid errors.
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  • Avoid working in existing TOPO files due to the hazard of overwriting or corrupting the original file. Always keep good backups.
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  • Attach master design file(s) to sheets as a reference file. Do not copy them. This avoids version problems.
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  • Attach PE's seal to sheet file as a reference file (from the shared SITE folder). Do not place a cell. This will save disk space, speed up file retrieval, and provide better control of the PE's seal.
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  • Working units: Defined by standard unit ratios for Survey Feet within Microstation and are based on 1 Meter (1 meter = 39.37/12 or 1 meter = 3.280833333333. Labeled ft/tn with a resolution of 1000 units of resolution per foot.
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  • Level names from the TxDOT DGN Library will be used to differentiate features within the overall design.
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  • The TxDOT DGN library is supplied to establish a standard drafting scheme. This scheme should be used as delivered without modification.
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  • Be sure all data is being backed up on a daily basis.
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File Management

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  • Keep an information sheet for each project. If too complex, keep a separate sheet for each file. This can be on paper. A readme file in the project folder is even better.
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  • Keep all files (graphics, notes, PS&E, etc.) for a project in subfolders of a single folder tree. Avoid using long path names as they cause problems.
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  • Share, do not copy files for more than one person to work on; this prevents duplicate file conflicts.
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  • Store projects on the shared drive (usually “T”) in a folder with an obvious name.
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  • Creating an empty subfolder named after the CSJ (e.g., “0253-04-089”) makes the project easier to find in archive listings later.
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  • When a project is completed, archive all files/data. Presently, CD media is considered the best for long term storage.
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  • Identify a SITE folder on the “T” drive, or another shared drive. This is the best location for shared files such as cell libraries and mapping files that are used on many different projects.
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Standard Sheet Cells

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  • District and division standard cell libraries are available. Identify and use them whenever possible.
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  • Create any new standard sheet cells (see Table 2-1 and Table 2-2) at 1" = 100' for consistency.
    Anchor: #i1018425Table 2-1: Full Size (D) and Half-Size (B) Sheet Text

    Text Usage

    Leroy Size

    (D) / (B)














    (not used)

    < 120 / < 60









    120 / 60

    0 – 1








    140 / 70

    1 – 2








    200 / 100

    2 – 3







    Sheet Title

    240 / 120

    3 – 4







    (not used)

    > 240 / > 120








    Anchor: #i1018499Table 2-2: Full-Size (D) and Half-Size (B) Sheet Dimensions


    *Heavy border line 21" x 32"

    *Outside cut line 22" x 34"

    Left margin

    Top, Bottom, Right margins


    16" x 10.5"(B) 10.5" x 16"

    15.15" x 10.50"

    34" x 22"(D)

    17" x 11"(B)

    11" x 17"

    2" (D)


    ½ " (D)

    ¼ " (B)

    1" = 10' (D)

    1" = 20' (B)

    210 x 320

    220 x 340



    1" = 20' (D)

    1" = 40' (B)

    420 x 620

    440 x 680



    1" = 30' (D)

    1" = 60' (B)

    630 x 960

    660 x 1020



    1" = 40' (D)

    1" = 80' (B)

    840 x 1280

    880 x 1360



    1" = 50' (D)

    1" = 100' (B)

    1050 x 1600

    1100 x 1700



    1" = 100' (D)

    1" = 200' (B)

    2100 x 3200

    2200 x 3400



    *Cut line only on large format devices

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Plotting Guidelines

Each of the plot drivers set up by engineering support attempts to size and justify the plot on the sheet chosen, then writes the border information (file name, plot date and time, any comments) in the lower left hand corner if room is available. This does not always work perfectly. The next subsections provide

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General Plotting Guidelines

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  • Select the correct driver for your plotter.
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  • Always use preview.
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  • Snap fence to the outside cut line.
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  • Verify plot area is set to FENCE in the plot dialog box.
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  • Use the default “B” (11" x 17") cut page for half-size plots.
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  • Use the “D” (22" x 34") cut page for full-size plots on applicable plotters.
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  • Check the scale. If the scale is correct, then the sheet was set up to the dimensions described above.
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  • If the scale is incorrect, make sure that entity is set to fence, not view.
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  • If the scale is incorrect and will not reset, the sheet cut line may be nonstandard. Correct the dimensions of the outside cut line and the heavy border line.
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  • Use the Roll Plot page size for non-standard plot sizes on large format DesignJet plotters.
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  • Adjust the length (in page size), or Long Axis will run the default length of 25 feet of media on applicable plotters.
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Local Plotting on the Current Network in Use

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  • A port must be captured before plotting in Microstation.
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  • Printers must be installed on computer by TxDOTNow online IT support.
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  • Once a printer is installed, the printer can be assigned to a port within MicroStation.
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  • Open a .DGN file in MicroStation and go to TxDOT/Printer Ports/Map Ports. Under the Map Printers tab, select a LPT#, then select a printer to assign to it, and finally click Map.
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  • When plotting in Microstation, do not enter a plot name when prompted. Instead, enter the captured port (such as LPT1). An alert message will appear stating that the file (e.g., D:\LPT1) already exists. Disregard this error message and hit OK.
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  • To avoid typing in the local port every time, Microstation plot driver files can be edited to automatically route a plot to the local printer port. For details, contact your engineering support liaison.
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  • Use of third party plotting may (Iplot) be supported.
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