How to Batch Plot Drawings in AutoCAD

AutoCAD simplifies workflows for professionals across various careers by enabling them to batch plot drawings. Batch plotting refers to the process of simultaneously printing or converting to multiple drawings or sheets of a drawing project to PDF in a single operation. In fact, you can batch plot both opened and unopened drawings. This feature allows AutoCAD to eliminate the need to independently plot each drawing, thus saving time. In this article, we will discuss setting up drawings for batch plotting in AutoCAD, configuring batch plotting settings, previewing and printing the drawings, and troubleshooting any potential problems. Let’s get started. 

Setting Up Drawings for Batch Plotting

The process of batch plotting starts well before you click the Batch Plot button. This is because there are a few tasks to complete before setting up the batch plot. This includes creating page setups for the various layouts in the drawing and opening the Publish dialog box.

Creating a Page Setup

As highlighted in our previous guide to viewports in AutoCAD, there are two types of viewports: model space and layout viewports. The former enables you to work on the model within a work area known as the model space. On the other hand, the latter allows you to view and, based on the settings, work on the drawing within a work area known as a paper space.

To create a page setup for a given layout:

  1. Click the plus sign in the Models and Layout tab section of the AutoCAD window
  2. Then, click on the newly created layout, as doing this will simultaneously open the Page Setup Manager dialog box

    Page Setup Manager Dialog Box in AutoCAD

    Page Setup Manager Dialog Box in AutoCAD

    This dialog box enables you to either use existing page setup details or create a new custom page setup. The page setup contains details that act as printing rules. Following these rules, the software prints the drawings just as you want.
  3. To customize the page setup details, click New on the dialog box, specify the name of the custom page setup, and click OK. 
  4. Next, AutoCAD will open the Page Setup dialog box

    Page Setup Dialog Box in AutoCAD

    Page Setup Dialog Box in AutoCAD

    Here, you can specify the name of the plotter or printer, paper size, plot area, plot offset, plot style table, plot options, drawing orientation, and plot scale. 

    1. Plotter/Printer Name: AutoCAD lists available system printers and PC3 files that you can choose to plot the current layout or sheet
    2. Paper Size: This option allows you to select your preferred paper size based on what your plotter can support and scale, among other factors.
    3. Plot style table: Plot style tables help reduce the number of redundant steps whenever you want to plot a drawing, as they contain a number of the plot settings you use during this process.
    4. Plot options: You can choose several plot options by simply checking the corresponding box. These options include Plot transparency, Plot object lineweight, Plot paperspace last, Hide paperspace objects, and Plot with plot styles
    5. Drawing orientation: This option directs the software on how to orient and plot the drawing relative to the edges of the page.
    6. Plot scale: This option allows you to specify the scale or let AutoCAD fit the drawing to paper.
  5. Click OK

AutoCAD associates the details you select through the procedure above with a specific page setup. And detailed below, the software uses these details to execute a batch plot of the drawings.

Opening the Publish Dialog Box

AutoCAD’s Publish dialog box is where the batch plot magic happens. This window enables you to configure batch plotting settings, create and manage drawing lists, select the folder where AutoCAD will save the plotted files, and more. To open this dialog box, follow either of the two procedures below:

  1. Click the application button on the top-left section of the AutoCAD window
  2. In the resulting menu, hover your mouse cursor over the arrow next to the Print button and then select the Batch Plot option
  3. The Publish dialog box will be displayed by AutoCAD
Publish Dialog Box in AutoCAD

Publish Dialog Box in AutoCAD

Alternatively, you can:

  1. Click on the Output ribbon tab
  2. Select Batch Plot from the Plot ribbon panel
  3. The Publish dialog box will be displayed by AutoCAD

Configuring Batch Plotting Settings

As mentioned earlier, the Publish window allows you to adjust the batch plotting settings. To access the plotting settings, click the Publish Options button to open the PDF Publish Options dialog box. It is worth noting that this button is only available when you intend to publish to PDF, meaning you want to convert the drawings to a PDF format. In this dialog box, you can modify the vector quality, raster image quality, and the folder where the PDF file will be saved. 

PDF Publish Options Dialog Box in AutoCAD

PDF Publish Options Dialog Box in AutoCAD

Creating and Managing Drawing Sheet List

The sheet list includes all the drawings designated for plotting. AutoCAD automatically loads all open drawings and displays them within the Publish window. Each drawing can be identified by a sheet name, derived from the model or layout tab where it is located. 

Adding Drawings to Sheet List

Additionally, you can add drawings to this list. To do this, follow the procedure below:

  1. Click the Add Sheets button to display the Select Drawings dialog box, allowing you to choose the drawings you want to add to the list

    Select Drawings Dialog Box in AutoCAD

    Select Drawings Dialog Box in AutoCAD

  2. Make sure to check the ‘Prefix sheet title with file name’ option, as it simplifies differentiating between sheets from various drawing files
  3. In the Include drop-down menu, specify if you want to add models in the model space, layouts, or both
  4. Click Select to complete adding the drawings

Organizing a Drawing Sheet List

AutoCAD enables you to move and organize the drawings in a sheet list by adjusting their order up or down. To move a drawing sheet up, select the drawing and click the Move Sheet Up button Move Up Button in AutoCAD's Publish Dialog Box. Alternatively, to move a sheet down the order, select the drawing and click the Move Sheet Down button Move Down Button in AutoCAD's Publish Dialog Box.

Loading Saved Drawing Sheet Lists

It is worth noting that you can also load previously saved drawing sheets. This eliminates the need to open all drawings each time you want to plot them. If you had already saved the drawing sheet earlier, for example, you can directly open the Publish dialog box upon launching the software and load the drawing sheet. Keep in mind that a drawing sheet is saved as a .dsd (drawing set descriptions) file. To load an existing drawing sheet list: 

  1. Click the Load Sheet List button Load Sheet List Button in AutoCAD's Publish Dialog Box
  2. Select the saved list from the options in the Load List of Sheets dialog box.
  3. Click Load to complete the process

Saving Drawing Sheet List 

You can also save the loaded sheets as a .dsd file. To do this:

  1. Save all the drawings displayed in the sheet list (in their respective model space or layout viewports)
  2. In the Publish dialog box, click the Save Sheet List button Save Sheet List Button in AutoCAD's Publish Dialog Box, which opens the Save List As dialog box
  3. Select the folder where you want to store the .dsd file, enter the file name, and click Save

Previewing and Plotting Batch Drawings

AutoCAD allows you to preview the drawings before proceeding with the batch plot. The software presents the drawings precisely as they will appear once plotted. To preview the drawings, click the Preview button Preview Button in AutoCAD's Publish Dialog Box, which opens the print preview

AutoCAD Print Preview Commands

AutoCAD Print Preview Commands

window. Here, you can use the arrow buttons to navigate from one drawing sheet to another. To close the print preview, click the Close Preview Window button (the X button in the image). 

If you are satisfied with what you see, it is time to batch plot the drawings. How can you execute this process? To plot batch drawings, do the following:

  1. Select the Plotter named in page setup option in the Publish to drop-down list
  2. Next, in the individual drawing sheets, change the Page Setup to the plotter’s name
    Do note that if you had specified the name of the plotter in the Page Setup dialog box earlier (refer to the Creating a Page Setup section above), AutoCAD would send the sheets to this specific plotter for printing. Alternatively, if you had specified that AutoCAD should convert the drawing to PDF, the software would do so, but this time it would convert all the drawings simultaneously. Therefore, AutoCAD utilizes the settings you select during the page setup stage to execute a batch plot operation. However, bear in mind that AutoCAD applies page setups to similar spaces. This implies that a page setup created for a layout tab is not compatible with a model tab, and vice versa. 
  3. In the Publish Output section, specify the number of copies you want AutoCAD to print
  4. Finally, click Publish

To batch-convert drawings to PDF, follow this procedure:

AutoCAD PDF Presets

AutoCAD PDF Presets

  1. Select the PDF option in the Publish to drop-down list
  2. Ensure the sheets’ respective page setup information is set to Default: None
  3. Additionally, choose your preferred preset from the PDF Preset drop-down menu. You can select from one of the five options, as shown in the image to the right.
  4. In the Publish Output section, specify the number of copies you want AutoCAD to print
  5. Finally, click Publish

Troubleshooting Batch Plotting Issues

AutoCAD displays the message in the image below if the batch plot is successful. 

Successful Batch Plot Messages AutoCAD

Successful Batch Plot Message in AutoCAD

The message notifies you that the software did not encounter any errors or warnings while publishing the drawings. However, this may not always be the case. Batch plotting issues might arise, rendering the process unsuccessful. These issues include:

  1. Problematic plotter configuration: According to Autodesk, this can be caused by several factors, including the fact that the system printer driver for the driver may not have been installed, is a different version than specified, or is corrupted; the printer is not connecting to the computer; the local copy of the file is corrupted, among other reasons.
  2. An incorrect printout when using a customized page setup: This may appear as colored prints when batch printed, but greyscale when printed on a single sheet. This could be because the drawing is configured to use a named plot table style (STB) instead of a color-dependent plot table style (CTB), or vice versa. Alternatively, it may be due to a missing PDF writer or a plotter that is not connected to the computer.
  3. Page size output issues: This issue may present as an output that is cropped to a smaller page size; an output that is scaled to a smaller page size with the selected page setting in the page setup being discarded; the correct page size is maintained, but only a small portion of the drawing is printed in a scaled-up format; or an invalid media configuration message.
  4. Objects that are missing or do not plot: This issue can be caused by incorrect plotter configuration; layers that are set to No Plot or turned off; objects placed on the Defpoints layer; corrupt layers, frozen or corrupt viewports, and more
  5. Slow batch plot process: The process may take an unusually long time to complete, or it may hang or pause

To solve a particular batch plotting issue, you first have to isolate it. Next, you have to identify the cause. Afterward, you can consult Autodesk’s support resources for a comprehensive solution. For example, when encountering a problematic plotter configuration, AutoCAD suggests trying several solutions, such as installing the missing printer driver, changing the printer in the page setup, or using the Convert DWG utility to remove all saved plotters. Regrettably, this implies that there is no universal solution for batch plotting issues. To access the various support resources, click the corresponding link for the issue you have identified.


AutoCAD promotes convenience by helping design professionals save time. It achieves this using the batch plot feature that allows for the simultaneous printing/publishing of multiple drawings. The software allows users to configure batch plotting settings, create, manage, and save drawing sheet lists, and preview the drawings prior to printing. If all factors are favorable and the selected settings are ideal for the task, the batch plot process completes without issues. However, this is not always the case, meaning that troubleshooting is necessary at least once in a while. AutoCAD has several support resources that can enable you to identify and solve the various issues.

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