Automatic Border tool works its wonders

Check out SOLIDWORKS’s Automatic Border tool and how it makes editing your Sheet Formats so much easier than old fashioned sketching!

SOLIDWORKS has the amazing Automatic Border tool for Sheet Formats. You don’t need to sketch your drawing borders from scratch. You also do not need to edit many sketch objects to update your borders.

The Automatic Border tool allows you to control all elements of your drawing border and associate those with drawing zones which are intrinsic to the drawing sheet. The tool has many functions to provide to you the ability to make and edit your borders to your exact needs.

To support ease of editing your Sheet Formats, a tab is available on the CommandManager called Sheet Format. This tab includes the tools Edit Sheet Format, Title Block Fields and Automatic Border. To find the Automatic Border tool:

Click on the Sheet Format tab
Choose Edit Sheet Format to switch to Sheet Format mode. Then, select Automatic Border tool.

On a newer template created in SOLIDWORKS 2016 or later, your border will highlight as orange. (If you have an older Sheet Format or you are trying to incorporate your old Sheet Format from another CAD application, see SOLIDWORKS Help.) In the Automatic Border PropertyManager, select Next to edit your existing border.

The first page of the PropertyManager is for legacy (pre-SOLIDWORKS 2016) Sheet Formats. If you have a newer Sheet Format, just skip this first page by selecting Next.

On page two of the Automatic Border PropertyManager, you have many options to edit your border.

Zone size and Margins

Zone Size groupbox allows you to establish your zone distribution and region.

The 50mm from center option under Distribution allows you to use a common size and placement regardless to sheet size.

Evenly sized option allows you to automatically divide the sheet up into evenly sized zones, including a custom number of rows and columns.

Under Regions, you can set zones to fit within the sheet’s margins (Margins) or the sheet’s extents (Sheet).

Margin groupbox allows you to establish where your border appears on the sheet in terms of distance from the sheet extents. You can set the border’s line font and thickness. Also, there is an option to allows you to include double-line border called Double-line border.

Independent Border groupbox is a less commonly used option that allows you to place your borders separately from margins. This is only useful if you have unusual distribution of sheet zones that do not take the border into account, with the same Right, Left, Top and Bottom settings as Margins.

Zone Formatting

Zone Formatting groupbox provides several highly specific settings to control the display of zones within the border.

You have the option to show or hide zone dividers with the Show zone dividers option. With this option off, the lines that represent the divisions between zones do not appear on the border.

Show zone dividers is checked
Show zone dividers is unchecked

In Zone Formatting groupbox when Show zone dividers is checked, you can control the line font, line thickness, length for the dividers.

There are also settings under Center zone divider that allow you to control the center zone divider’s length in both directions from the border.

Use Center zone divider settings to control the length of the center zone divider in both directions from the border.
If you do not want center zone divider to extend into the drafting area of your drawing, you can input 0 (zero) into the second field.

Under Zone labels, you will find several options and settings that allow you to control the visibility, placement and font of the letters and numbers which label your zone columns and rows.


Finally, you can even set a layer upon which your border should be placed within the Layer groupbox.


Once you have made all your choices for options and settings on this page of the PropertyManager, you can choose OK button to accept, or you can continue on to the next page for one more advanced function.

Mask Area to Remove some Zone Formatting

Page 3 of the Automatic Border PropertyManager allows you to create one or more masks for your border. A mask is an area on your border where you wish to remove zone labels and dividers. Typically, you will use masks to create space outside your margins to add a company’s legal notice or (if you are still plotting your drawings) you can add part number, sheet number or other information to quickly index through a pile of drawings.

To create a mask, click on the plus sign button.

When you click on the plus sign button, a box will appear on the Sheet Format. You can modify the size and location of this box using the grips.

For example, if you wish to add your company’s copyright notice to the upper left, move and resize the box to cover the upper left corner of your border.

You can add more than one mask. Each mask that you create will appear in the PropertyManager.

All Done!

When you select OK, you accept all the changes that you’ve made to your border, including the masked area. You will still be in the Sheet Format mode. Add any additional details you wish for your Sheet Format.

Return to your drawing’s Sheet mode by selecting Edit Sheet Format one more time.

Your changes will now be the background to your drawing.

If you wish to reuse your newly edited Sheet Format, use the Save Sheet Format command. Find this command in the File pulldown menu, shown above.

Automatic Border tool simplifies a task that can be a tedious sketching exercise. Not only does the above functionality allow you quickly create the drawing border that you want, you can easily edit your drawing border as the need arises.

Controlling how flag notes are attached to leaders (part 1)

SolidWorks provides the ability to support many different shapes for flag notes.  In addition to shapes, there are several methods in SolidWorks to create flag notes on a drawing.  Each method gives a slightly different result in how the flag note symbol looks and how it is attached to the leader line.  Part 1 of this article will cover shapes and the flag note symbols.

Flag note symbol shapes

There are two general methods to add flag note symbols to an Annotation Note.

The first (and older) method is to use the symbol library.  There are literally hundreds of symbols included within the library.  The library supports triangle, square and circle symbols for numbers and letters, with or without the period.  This method inserts a tag into the Annotation Note, which then generates the flag note symbol, based on existing data in the gtol.sym file.

Using the Flag note symbols from the symbol library

To use this method, create the Annotation Note with a leader.

While in the edit mode, click on the Add Symbol button in the PropertyManager.

This opens up the Symbol Library.  Pick the appropriate flag note symbol and OK.This opens up the Symbol Library. Pick the appropriate flag note symbol and OK.

This will insert the symbol into the Annotation Note.

If the triangle is chosen, the resultant symbol is not an equilateral triangle. The square and circle symbols are truly squares and circles, respectively.  Note the gap between the flag note and leader.  This gap can get bigger or be completely removed with a different method, which I will go into in part 2 of this article.

SolidWorks 2010 Borders within Annotations

SolidWorks move towards quality has affected many areas in SolidWorks 2010, including annotation functionality.  One of particular note is the fact that borders around text can now be added within an annotation note!

The following example has borders added to text using only this new method.  No <> tag symbols where used:

Click to see larger view

Access to this functionality is in the same place as before, under the Border heading within the Note PropertyManager.  The only difference is that the border selection now responds to highlighted text within the affected Note.  In fact, it only responds to highlighted text now.

Because of this new functionality, some behavior has changed with making flagnotes.  As of Beta 2, notice that they will no longer directly attach to a leader unless they are round (Circle border).  Some may like this, others may not.  Another behavior that might need to be taken into consideration when using these borders is that spacing between lines may be affected, as also shown in the example.  Also, this functionality is not supported within dimension callouts.