Monday, 23 February 2015

TEXTual Healing

Just about every AutoCAD document has text objects in it.  AutoCAD has a built in text editor (and a built-in mtext editor) with lots of power and functionality.  Here is a quick look at MTEXT and what we can do with it in the AutoCAD environment.

The major annotation type is multi line text, called MTEXT.  Of course, you can create "text" in AutoCAD by other means: single line text (DTEXT), attribute text, dimension text, table text and hypertext. 

The real power with MTEXT is the ability to have multiple lines of text with word processor formatting all built inside of AutoCAD.

MTEXT: Friend or Foe?
Paragraph formatting is a powerful feature of MTEXT.  Right-click on the ruler of an MTEXT box  and the option to enter the Paragraph dialog appears (or click the Paragraph icon in the Text Formatting dialog).  Here, we can define tabs and indents for our text, a great way to organize numbered notes, for example.

Here is a more detailed explanation of the paragraph dialog, on Autodesk Exchange.

In my experience, a good place to start is to set left tab and hanging indent at 6.00 (for metric users), but as you can see, there is a lot more than simple indenting available.

Take a look at the decimal tab, for example; decimal tabbing is a pretty useful item for lining up numeric text.

With the Decimal tab  active, and a value of 10 added, selecting and tabbing mtext will line up the text with the decimals all justified, a handy way to organize numeric content!

The Columns Advance
Another powerful feature in MTEXT is column control.  MTEXT allows dynamic columns, which means the columns can be grip edited, or static columns where you define the number of columns and AutoCAD arranges the text.

Settings to control column and gutter (the space between columns) width and more, depending on the column type selected, are all in the Column Settings dialog, accessed from the Text Formatting tool.

Power Tips
How can you get the neat little m2 to appear in MTEXT?  To make text superscript in MTEXT, type the m2, and then type the ^ caret symbol [shift + 6] next to it like so: m2^.  Select the 2 and the caret, right-click, and select Stack from the pop up menu.  That's it! You now have superscript text!  If you put the ^ in front of the text and stack them, AutoCAD will make it a subscript, so keep an eye on your carets, folks!

Every annotation in your drawing can be spell checked.  The command SPELL will search your drawing and compare the text to your assigned dictionaries.  There is hardly any excuse to have typos in AutoCAD these days.

Looking for text in all the wrong places?  Try the FIND command to see if the text exists in your drawing, and click Zoom to Highlighted Result and AutoCAD will display it.  I find it a handy way to find ASCM points in survey data files!

Line up your text quickly by selecting the separate elements and set the position X value in the properties palette to the same value: Voila! Your text is lined up!