Importance of Scale Bars

Over recent years I’ve noticed a growing trend appearing (or should I say not appearing?) on many of the digital drawings I see. It’s something that not only wastes my time, it drives me mad!

People generally use PDF as the most common format to share drawings created in CAD. Most drawings may have originated as RVT, DWG, DXF or DGN files, but you can guarantee that more often than not they’re being viewed as PDFs. Anyone can read a PDF, and on any device. They open in seconds, have small file sizes and don’t require any specialist software or skills to use.  There really is no easier way of sharing your digital drawings.

Scale bars on drawings

What is the problem?

Well, it is drawing scale and the lack of consideration given to it by so many people. All too often over recent years when we receive a drawing it will have something like this in its title block...

scale bar example

Now some of you might be thinking there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that - you might put this exact thing on your own drawings. Well, let me tell you, there is something very wrong with it... it has no scale bar!

The whole point of most drawings is to accurately portray the size of real world features. So they have to do just that - whether they’re printed out or just being viewed on a screen.

What is the Solution?

Always having a scale bar on your title block means size is easily understood by everyone. Every drawing must have one.

Scale bar on drawing

See… that little scale bar makes all the difference!

Scale bars have been around for hundreds of years. They’ve worked wonderfully in all that time and believe me, in today’s digital world they are more essential than ever.

Capability Brown and Isambard Kingdom Brunel thought they were important enough to put on their hand-drawn designs in the 18th & 19th Centuries. So today's CAD technicians, surveyors, architects and engineers shouldn't have too much trouble making the effort to include them too!

Missing scale bars cause time to be wasted and mistakes to be made. So get your house in order and update all your title blocks today so that they include one. It’ll take just a few minutes of your time, but will make life so much easier for everyone using your drawings.

When your office next issues a drawing, or someone emails you a PDF, check that scale bar is where it should be. If it’s absent, don’t just ignore it. Have a chat to whoever issued the drawing, politely point out their graphical faux pas and educate them about how valuable that humble scale bar is.

Together we can beat this scourge!