Dimensioning in Style (with SOLIDWORKS Dimension Styles)

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated June 2, 2017


Often times, SOLIDWORKS Dimension Styles are passed without notice because it is quite easy to get the job done without using them. However, they can be used for dimensions that have very common notes attached to them. For instance, when I used to design automated machinery, often times, we would add text to a dimension such as “BTS” (Build To Suit), or “DRILL AND REAM” or “TRANSFER AT ASSEMBLY” among others. I’ve created a simple example below:

SOLIDWORKS Dimension Styles Example

SOLIDWORKS Dimension Style Examples

As you can see, I am doing a few different things with my dimensions on this part. My 100.0 dimension at the top includes a note that says “Build To Suit,” indicating that it will be whatever length the shop floor deems appropriate, hence why the 100.0 is to 1 decimal place and in parentheses. So, I’ve done 3 things to this dimension and I do these 3 things often enough that I want a better way.

I will use SOLIDWORKS Dimension Styles to make my life easier…

Adding a SOLIDWORKS Dimension Style

I start by selecting the dimension, then I go over to the left-hand side:

Update a Style

Update a Style

Once on the left side, I click the “Add or Update a Style” button (star with a + sign). Then a dialogue window appears and I give it a meaningful name (such as BTS). On this drawing, I can pick any dimension, and from the drop down menu below the “Add or Update a Style) button, I can choose BTS and it will change the 3 things on it. I’ve just created and tested my Dimension Style and it works great. Then I create a new drawing and am dismayed to find that BTS doesn’t appear in the drop down of the new drawing:

Style Selection

Style Selection

How do I copy Dimension Styles from one drawing into another?

I then go back to the drawing that has my Dimension Styles. I need to do one more thing to them so I can access them: I need to save them out as an external file.

Save Style

To do this, I simply go back to the left and click on the Save Style button. I then save it to an external file (.sldstl). I repeat for each of the Dimension Styles I have created. Then I switch back to my other drawing and use the Load Style button and select the Dimension Styles I want to bring into the new drawing:

Open a Style

Open a Style

Then I have access to the SOLIDWORKS Dimension Styles in the new drawing. I am able to select it from the drop down and apply it to the dimensions in this drawing as well:

Style selection available

Style selection available

Apply styles to a template

Of course, I don’t want to have to do this every time I want to use SOLIDWORKS Dimension Styles from a previous drawing. So, there’s one other thing I need to do.

I’m going to create a new, blank drawing, then load my Dimension Styles as described before, then I’m going to save my drawing as a Drawing Template, overwriting the old template. Now every new drawing I create (with this template) will have all my Dimension Styles available!

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).