Why do my SOLIDWORKS Drawing dimensions move after I placed them? [VIDEO]

Article by Andrew Lidstone, CSWE updated March 26, 2015


When detailing a drawing, a common complaint for users first starting out with SOLIDWORKS is that dimensions will seemingly arbitrarily jump around after they’ve been placed!

It isn’t that your SOLIDWORKS program is trying to defy your commands, the program is following a drawing layout standard that it thinks you have already instructed it to maintain.  You can, though, turn off the behavior, OR you can adjust the actual settings that control it to use this to your advantage.

Pop up message

Pop up message

Many users who first encounter this behavior may not notice a temporary pop up message that actually explains exactly what is happening when the dimension moves.  Unfortunately this message will only show once per SOLIDWORSK session and after that the dimensions will snap to their assumed position without any explanatory notes.

How to disable the spacing option

To disable the behavior you can go to the “System Options” tab in the Options dialogue (Under Tools > Options) and then go to the Drawings section.  Here there is a check box where you can disable the behavior to “Reduce spacing when dimensions are deleted or edited (add or change tolerance, text etc …)”.  Un-checking this option will cause the dimensions to stay exactly where you place them, the program will no longer try to adjust the spacing of the dimension.

Spacing Option

Dimension Spacing Option

How to adjust the default Dimension spacing option

However if you want to use this functionality instead of just turning it off, you can adjust the way it works if you like.  The setting to control the dimension spacing is file specific (so any changes you wish to make should be saved as a new template file if you want them to be reflected in new files going forward).  Go to the “Document Properties” tab in the Options dialogue, and then go to the Dimensions section.  Under Offset distances you can adjust the offset spacing if you want to still use this functionality, but have a different spacing than the default.

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Andrew Lidstone, CSWE

Andrew Lidstone is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Application Engineer specializing in Data Management systems. He has been working in the SOLIDWORKS reseller channel since 2010 helping clients get the most from their CAD tools.