The Power of a Pre-Linked ArchiCAD Template, Part 3 – Layout BookAECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #75 (November 17, 2015)

Link Ellis
ArchiCAD Technical Director, BIM6x

In this series of tutorials, we’re discussing pre-linked templates in ArchiCAD. A pre-linked template offers huge benefits in easy adoption, consistency and automation. Once created, it also offers flexibility and scalability, both of which can be achieved far more quickly than traditional ways of building a project structure from a base template or worse, a previous project.

A pre-linked ArchiCAD template has all the viewpoints of a project linked into sets of deliverables before a model is created, as illustrated below: Viewpoints> Views> Layout Book> Publisher Sets.

Following from the first tutorial where we discussed the various Viewpoints in the Project Map and the second tutorial where we discussed the various Views in the View Map, this article will focus on the third step; the Layouts in the Layout Book.

Layout Book

Continuing the process of taking the 3D model and all its data into a deliverable format, we have determined that views made from viewpoints are what ArchiCAD uses to look at and filter the model. These views can be saved out as deliverables directly, but for printing we need to place them into a set of documents.

Creating viewpoints and views all happens in the modeling environment, but ArchiCAD also has a layouting environment. This includes the Layout Book, which is made up of multiple layouts. These are visible in the Layout Book mode of the Navigator or Organizer. In real-world terms, a layout is essentially a sheet of paper, and a layout book (or subset) is a set of drawings.

In ArchiCAD, we transition between the modeling environment and the layouting environment by taking views and placing them onto layouts. This is best done by dragging views from the View Map onto layouts in the Layout Book in the Organizer. Once a view is placed onto a layout, it becomes a drawing. Drawings on layouts can have their settings edited to change their extents, titles, and other properties.

When a view is placed as a drawing onto a layout for a specific purpose, there is no need to repeat the process for the same purpose, since the drawing becomes linked back to the view from which it was sourced. A simple example may be to have a set of floor plans. Once you have created the layouts of floor plan drawings, the connection between the model and the layout has been established. Any changes to the model will be updated through the views to the drawings on the layouts. There is no need to place those views again.

Layouts in a Layout Book are often grouped into “chapters,” or what ArchiCAD calls subsets. Subsets can contain their own subsets. These are used to create a full set of documents.

Once a Layout Book has been created, it should be considered a live document. Drawings, by default, are set to be updated automatically so that changes in the modeling environment are updated in the Layout Book whenever a layout is viewed.

The layouting environment has certain settings that are unique and differ from the modeling environment. These settings include, but are not limited to: layer combination, pen set, grid display, zoom, and user origin. Most important are the layer combination and pen set. The default layer combination in the layouting environment can be used to show the drawings, different title block information and configurations, as well as stamps and watermarks. Use unique layer combinations in the layouting environment just as you would in the modeling environment.

Before we discuss subsets and layout structure, it is wise to first understand Master Layouts, Title Blocks, Titles and Drawings.

Master Layouts

Master layouts in ARCHICAD serve two primary purposes. They set the sheet size and they contain title block information. Once created, Master layouts are assigned to layouts in the Layout Book, thus defining their size and title block information. A good tip for maximizing the real estate on Master layouts is to acquire the margins that your printer requires. Do this in your Master Layout Settings by selecting Import settings from Printer. In the next dialog, choose your printer and paper size and when you hit OK, ARCHICAD will enter the minimum margin sizes that your printer needs, thus maximizing your printable area, which ARCHICAD shows as a blue border. Any element in whole or in part that falls outside the blue border will not be printed. And of course, you can make the margins bigger if you need to increase them for binding, etc.

Any new layout added to the layout book will assume the Default Master Layout. Any Master layout can be set as the Default but only one at a time. Do this by either right-clicking a Master layout and selecting Set as Default or by using the Settings button. A Master layout is identified by its dog-ear icon.

At any time a layout’s Master can be changed by editing its settings. You can do this by right-clicking and selecting Layout Settings… or by using the Settings button.

Or you can do this en masse by changing the layout book display from Tree by subset to Tree by master. Then open up the + sign next to a Master. Select all the drawings within it and drag them onto the desired Master. Once complete, change the layout book display back to Tree by subset. Bear in mind that you will probably need to reposition all the drawings on each layout.

Title Blocks

The Master layouts also contain all the Title Block information. Title Blocks typically consist of Lines, Fills, Text, Figures and Objects. All of these elements reside on the Master layouts themselves. It is not a particularly great idea to create title blocks in worksheets and place them as drawings on the Master layouts, as it creates extra drawings to manage and title blocks don’t change frequently enough to warrant the overhead. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Similarly it is recommended to paste your company logo onto a Master layout as a Figure, not as a drawing, to keep the overheads of linking and updating to a minimum. If you want to include a QR Code for your company website, is a great place to generate QR codes which can then be simply copied/pasted directly onto the master layout as a figure.

Title Blocks should utilize Autotext, which can be defined as a text element containing a definition that is filled in automatically by ArchiCAD. Autotext is accessed when creating text blocks using the Text tool.

Autotext can be defined by a variety of system generated sources or via File > Info > Project Info… Project Info entries can be filled out in the Project Info dialog box and reflected in the relevant Autotext entries on the title block.

Layout generated Autotext will automatically take the layout name and number from each layout it is applied to. The layout number is set by the order of the layout in the subset in which it resides. Dragging layouts up or down in the Navigator or Organizer will change their numbers.

System generated Autotext can display information such as the filename and path, and the date and time the layout book was last accessed.

Title blocks may also contain the Revision History object used for tracking changes, revisions and issues. This object can automatically list the Issue ID, Issue Date, Change ID, Change Name, etc. of any changes that exist on the layout that belong to the current Issue. It will automatically populate on each issued layout.


Titles in ARCHICAD are special GDL objects that can be attached to drawings which are placed on layouts. Different titles can be attached to drawings depending on what documentation set they belong to or how you want them to look.

On the other hand, some drawings may have no titles attached to them such as Schedules, Notes, Legends, etc. And some have a different variation of a Simple Title which puts the title on top of the drawing, such as a Sheet Index.


Drawings are what reside on layouts and are created when a view is dragged from the View Map into the Layout Book. There are other ways to place a drawing on a layout, but let’s stick to this method for now. Any kind of view can be dragged onto a layout to create a drawing, except those derived from Lists and Info viewpoints.

Drawings are like any other element in ARCHICAD in that they have their own Settings. You can use the eyedropper and syringe Parameter Transfer tools to pick up the properties of the drawings and transfer them to other drawings. Drawings can also be saved as favorites, which is handy when placing new drawings. Simply double-click on the favorite, then drag your view onto a layout. Or select multiple drawings already on a layout and double-click your drawing favorite.

A Drawing’s setting can be edited by right clicking on it and selecting Drawing Settings… If you need to edit a large group of Drawings simultaneously, the Drawing Manager allows you to select drawings and click the Settings… button at the bottom of the Manager.

Drawings should typically be set to automatically update. So when the model or annotations are edited, the changes will be updated in the layouts as soon as they are opened or updated through the Drawing Manager. This is generally a good idea, but an exception to this may be rendered 3D views, as they can take a long time to generate.

If you prefer to have more control over the updating of your drawings, you can set them to Manual Update by editing the Update Type in the Drawing Settings dialog. You can sort by Update Type to select and edit multiple Drawings in the Window > Palettes > Drawing Manager or even create a project Index to audit Drawings and change their Update Types.

In a pre-linked template, it is a wise idea to make sure all drawings are set to have their Frames Fit to the Drawing. This means they will always show the full extents of the model and annotation and not be cropped down to only show part of the drawing. This way, drawing information won’t be accidentally cropped out.

Except perhaps for some schedules or perspective 3D views that may need to be de-magnified to fit on the layouts, all drawings should have their Magnification kept at 100%. It is not recommended to change these settings especially for plans, section, elevations, etc., that need to be at a set scale.

If you find you need to change the scale of such drawings, always edit the Source View’s settings, never the Drawing Settings. Editing the drawing’s settings will simply shrink or enlarge the drawing, including all text and dimensions, whereas editing the view will keep the text and dimensions readable.

All drawings should be laid out on layouts to maximize the area on each one. Do this by centering views in the printable area between the borders and the title block. This will minimize moving drawings on layouts although you will inevitably need to reposition drawings to match the extents of the building and accompanying drawings.

Subsets & Layouts

Subsets are essentially just folders within the Layout Book. Use them to set up and organize your documentation sets. They can be created by right-clicking in the layout book in the Navigator or Organizer and selecting Create New Subset, or by using the New Subset… button at the bottom of the dialog. Similarly, layouts can be created by right clicking in the Layout Book in the Navigator or Organizer and selecting New Layout, or by using the New Layout… button.

Subsets can also automatically determine the layout numbers of the layouts that reside in them. The numbering is set in the Subset Settings dialog and all layouts must be set to use the Automatic Book and Subset ID Assignment to take advantage of the automated numbering function. Using this function means that you will never need to manually set layout numbers.

All nested subsets (e.g., Floor Plans, Elevations, Sections, etc.) can pass their automatic numbering back to their Upper Level subset (e.g., Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documentation, etc.). The very upper level is the Book Settings. These settings can dictate how any layouts that are not filed correctly into a subset are named and numbered. It’s a good idea to set this to a name such as <!!PLEASE FILE CORRECTLY!!>, which acts as a prompt for users to file these layouts correctly into a subset.

When creating a Layout Book, mirroring the structure of the view sets in the View Map will make tracking the linked drawings back to their source views very easy and intuitive.

Subsets should also be arranged into typical architectural documentation phases: Marketing Set, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documentation, etc. Each set may use a different Master Layout so that they publish at different sheet sizes. And these can all be set to update concurrently, so that you can focus on each individual set at any time. Even when you’re deep in Construction Documentation, you can still print off a Marketing Set.

The extents of the model may require larger or smaller layouts for construction documentation. If this is foreseen as a common occurrence, it may pay to set up multiple sets using different layout sizes: for example, a 24x36 set and a 30x42 layout set. This way, the set that is not required can simply be deleted on a project-by-project basis, leaving the required set already pre-linked and ready to use.

As mentioned in the previous tutorial, if at any time, you need to track a drawing back to its source view, you can simply right-click on the drawing on a layout and select Open Source View. This will open the Source View (unless it has been deleted), in which case you will need to recreate the view and relink the drawing to it. Do this by right-clicking on the Drawing and selecting the Link Drawing to… command.

Consider also providing a [Not in Use] Subset as an empty folder ready for the temporary placement of subsets or layouts that may not be needed immediately. To keep the layout book tidy and organized, place all such subsets or layouts in this folder until they are required. To be tidy, when any layouts are placed in the [NOT IN USE] folder, then their corresponding linked views should also be placed in the [Not in Use] folder in the View Map.

Project Indexes

ArchiCAD’s Project Indexes can be used to create a Sheet Index which can then be placed on a cover sheet. Simply select the subset you want to list, and add the Subset Name, Layout ID and Layout Name to the fields. You can also include revision information here. Format the Headlines to show and sort by the first headline (in this case the Subset Name) and add a view of this project index to your cover sheet. It will always be up-to-date as long as the drawing is set to Auto update.

If you want to exclude layouts, perhaps the ones in the [Not in Use] folder, you can give those layouts a Status of OMIT and the schedule can be set not to include them.

Take the time to create your layout book and next time we’ll cover how to make publisher sets. To give you some food for thought, here is the layout book structure from the BIM6x Power Template.

To see these principles put in place, visit BIM6x and check out the ArchiCAD Template Kits.

About the Author

Link Ellis, formerly of ArchiLINK, is now the ArchiCAD Technical Director at BIM6x. Link is a passionate BIM implementer, specializing in ArchiCAD training and templates. With over 17 years in the industry, he has extensive experience and knowledge of ArchiCAD. Clients have requested his services across the globe including in the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia, India, and the Middle East. Link has a long-standing relationship with Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD development team and communicates with their technical support team regularly. He is also an award-winning ArchiCAD alpha and beta tester since 2003, member of multiple ArchiCAD forums, and a highly respected and well-liked member of the ArchiCAD community.

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