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Autocad 2D Tables

Autocad 2D Tables

image_1Often we need to import information from Excel spreadsheets into AutoCAD. There are several methods of doing this.

The easiest method is Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), but there are some limitations here. Basically we are copying and pasting the information. It works well for Windows users since OLE was developed by Microsoft. However, it won’t work for Apple Macintosh users. When pasted into AutoCAD it’s actually a Windows Meta File (WMF) – just like a pasted image. The limitations are that it can’t be edited, it can’t be rotated (for example if the drawing has to be rotated for landscape viewing), and sometimes it just prints as a black box. So this method is best for working between Microsoft programs.

A better method is by using the Tables functions which were introduced in AutoCAD version 2008. A table is a compound object like a dimension or a block, made up of native AutoCAD entities like lines and text, which will print like any other AutoCAD object. The cells can contain text, formulas, or even blocks.

The Tables tab can be found in both the Home tab and the Annotations tab. Click on the Insert Table button to open a dialog box. Here we can select a table style which controls the way the table looks. Note also the various selection options: we can start a new table from scratch, or from a data link to an Excel spreadsheet file.

In the first case we insert the number of rows and columns, width, etc. There’s a image_4preview on the left.Then we click on adjacent points to place the table into the drawing, whereupon the text editor options open at the top. We can enter data via the arrow keys. Note also the grips for adjusting the width and height, etc. Double-click inside a cell to edit its appearance.

Another function you can perform is Data Links, specifically with Excel where it links information from an Excel spread directly into the AutoCAD table. When you click on the CreateData Link button an Import options dialog opens; all the options are important but can be changed later if you miss something out. Data links are stored inside the file like any other X-Ref, but the table itself is just a table within the drawing. You can send the AutoCAD drawing without sending the Excel file and it’ll still show in the drawing. You can have as many data links in the AutoCAD drawing as needed.

You may need to Launch Data Link Manager then browse to the Excel or CSV file. Path types are exactly the same as a standard X-Ref: Relative, Full or No Path. You can import the entire sheet or a Named Range. Note the bottom right arrow for More Options, all of which are important. When in doubt leave the defaults settings on.

If the Excel spread is updated and saved, we can update it in AutoCAD via the Data Link Manager button on the Ribbon. This opens Excel within AutoCAD; right-click > Edit allows us to change our options. Also in right-click menu is the option to Open Excel File.

To edit a table within AutoCAD we first need to unlock the cells. Note the two icons for Lock and Chain link. Select a number of cells, go to Ribbon > Cell Locking tab > Unlock, or right-click. Then make your changes. If you wish to update the original Excel file right-click > Upload to Source File.

Once the changes have been made the program relocks the cells. Note: you can’t upload formatting changes to the source. For more details and learning about AutoCAD 2D you can enroll to our AutoCad 2D training course.

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