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Organizing a project

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I'll start off by admitting that this is probably answered somewhere, but is hard to find. Maybe I'm not using the right words to find it. I don't post questions but this is baffling me.


Anyways, I'm new to handling large projects in AutoCAD and am trying to create a system that works.

I believe that my largest issue is that organization is not a strong point for me.

Point to a filing cabinet and tell me to create a system, and I won't know where to start. I just try to deal with everything at once.


So, from the ground up:

I've started creating a large utility based project. I have a city map, utility poles and the equipment to go there.

It's easy to just create a bunch of layers and go when there's one person, but now there's several of us working on this project.


I'm trying to get organised such that I have a long term system, and something for this particular project.


To give an example, this project has 3 phases and around 15 major sections in the first phase (a section being a road or a building, either way a major event).


From how I understand things, I believe I want to create a master DWG with the roads and other permanent fixtures, then an individual DWG for each building install or roadside install. From there, tie it all together with the sheet set manager.

I believe the individual sections would XREF the master DWG, then there would be layouts for each section.


What I've currently got, is everything in a single DWG and no templates, no file structure.

How would I best sort this all out so that someone else can work on their section as well?

Is this an issue of file management?

eg: on the computer, I would have a file for this particular project, what all would I keep in that folder? What would be in a separate folder for later projects?


Master Folder

  • AutoCAD Settings/
    **Plot Styles/
  • Project1/
    **Sheet Set


Is there a better way?


Sorry, this isn't exactly a concise post, I just don't know where to start.

Throw links at me if you like, I typically read through until I find the answer, I'm just not finding it.



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Hello, I am not sure if this will help you but I will give you a quick rundown of how we do our projects. We do MEP work so we get a building plan from an architect and we then do a save as and clean it up to match our standard layers and such. Once we have a base made, we would then create a DWG file that would be say sheet E-101 for a power plan. We would xref in our base that we made and set up our sheet in paper space. Then do a save as to make all the sheets you would need and that way each sheet is it's own DWG file and people can work in different sheets at a time. You just keep your base clean and do your work in the model space of the individual sheets. I hope that makes some sense and is some help.

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My $0.05 use xref of your master dwg for the city map thats obvious as it sound like you want little areas of this map. You need a template dwg for say the relevant discipline with all layer and linetypes set up. Re layers have a good meeting and decide on your layer naming this is important as it really helps control a multi dwg/xref project. Be disciplined use the correct layer all the time. Maybe xref title blocks. Again in layouts not model.

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I'm not sure there is a "better" way but there will be ways that work good for you and don't for others. There might be some trial and error as you are cutting your teeth. Be prepared to adapt.


I addition to everything else offered. XREFing the master is a good idea. You could clip the XREF for each section to tidy up your model and make it easy to navigate. Also, look into sheet numbering/naming conventions.

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Thanks guys, I missed your replies before.



I wrote a detailed response with what we ended up doing, but forgot to copy before trying to submit and lost it all.



So the gist of it was: I used overlayed XREFs between a master and each section, and a template to start each section. I then have an improperly used sheet set to hold all of the layouts in one spot. I have blocks written to a separate folder, but am unsure if there's a way to update an edited block globally.

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