Color for non inserted dimensions

SolidWorks has many default colors for different types of dimensions.  On drawings, the two main types of dimensions are inserted (driving) and non inserted (driven).  Inserted dimensions are called such because they are inserted from the model.  Non inserted dimensions are created within the drawing itself.  I’m not going to get into the philosophies about which is better to use and when.  Let’s just stick to the topic that many times both are necessary on a drawing, and that they appear as two difference colors. Inserted dimensions are black and non inserted dimensions are grey, by default.

A problem pops up when using or printing the drawing while in Color Display Mode is on.  When this mode is turned off, all dimensions appear black, but so does everything else, including watermarks or lines on special layers.  So, many of us rely on the Color Display Mode.  When this mode is turned on, the user gets their colors right for other lines, but dimensions appear as both black and grey.  This can send a confusing message to someone who must later read the drawing.   Also, on some printers, the grey color may be washed out and unreadable.

Example of different colors

So, I have a quick trick to overcome this issue.  Simply change the color for non inserted dimensions within the System Options.   What color to use?  Well, if one still wants to know the difference between inserted and non inserted dimensions when editing the drawing, I recommend not picking black.  Instead pick the darkest grey available.  This will allow you to see the difference in SolidWorks, but such a difference will not be obvious in any printouts or PDFs.

To make this change in SolidWorks, goto Tools pulldown>System Options>Color heading.   In the Color schemes settings box, select Dimensions, Non Imported (driven).  Click the Edit button.  A traditional Windows color palette window will appear.  Use this window to create a very dark grey color and then assign it to one of the slots in the Custom colors area.  Choose that color as the setting and click OK to exit.  Then click OK in System Options to implement the change.

Color change location

All inserted dimensions will continue to be black, and non inserted dimensions will now be that dark grey.   Since this is System Options setting, it affects any drawing that is opened without having to enter the Document Properties area every time.  I’ve personally used this trick successfully for a long time.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

6 thoughts on “Color for non inserted dimensions”

  1. Pingback: fcsuper
  2. but…….. how do you then see the difference between driven and non-driven dimensions in sketches?

    I’ve always had black dimensions for driving dimensions in sketches, pink for driven in sketches, and black for all dimensions in drawings. Now I’m getting pink dimensions in my drawings. That’s not ok.

    Now I’ve changed companies and they don’t have that setting and it’s been almost a decade since I had to set this up so I totally forget.

  3. As far as I know, this is not possible in Solidworks right now, as colors are system settings, and no distinction is made for dimension colors on a drawing versus the model in sketch mode.

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