Tips and Tricks for Dimensioning Sketches in SOLIDWORKS

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated November 3, 2022


Dimensioning sketches in SOLIDWORKS is one of the most common and repeated operations when drawing a sketch. Therefore, employing different shortcuts for the dimensioning process can help you save time and make sketching an effortless experience. This blog presents the most valuable set of tips and tricks to streamline your sketch’s dimensions and make this process faster and even more enjoyable.

Don’t spend time calculating  

Every so often, you might not know what number you need for your dimension and must perform some calculations. Instead of taking out your calculator, you can let SOLIDWORKS perform the math for you by using the following tips:

  • Unit change– It does not matter if you are working in centimeters, feet, inches, or any other type of units, you can always change the unit type by writing the number and the unit abbreviation. If you don’t know the unit abbreviation, don’t worry! You can select them from the drop-down menu under the Modify window, as shown in the following image:
modify window dropdown

Modify window dropdown

  • Distance between circles- When dimensioning this distance, SOLIDWORKS always defaults to dimensioning this distance from the center of each circle. However, if you press the shift key while selecting the circles, you can dimension their distance from the furthest or closest perimeter, as shown in the image. Try it out!
  • Formulas- If specific quantitative relations are to be maintained between independent dimension, just input the formula in the Modify window and let SOLIDWORKS find the answer for you. It keeps your design intent perfectly in-tact (even if certain dimensions were to change).

Modify window for specific formulas

The best dimensions are the ones you don’t have to add

Instead of adding dimensions to your sketch, first, add all the relations you can find between the different geometries. This will reduce the number of dimensions you need to fully define the sketch. Moreover, if you need to modify some geometries in the future, SOLIDWORKS will automatically resize all the geometries with respect to the relations you have added.

Don’t stress about the orientation of your leaders!

As you move your pointer when dimensioning, SOLIDWORKS adapts the dimension’s leader to different orientations. However, sometimes you just want to reposition your leaders to a different place in your sketch. When this happens, you can lock your desired orientation by using the right click on your mouse. Now you can move your dimensions around without the leaders changing anymore.

lock your desired orientation

Just let SOLIDWORKS set up the dimensions for you!

If you are unsure of the dimensions you require to fully define your sketch, let SOLIDWORKS define them for you. You can do this by right-clicking on the sketch screen and clicking on the “Fully Define Sketch” option from the pop-up menu. Using this feature will not only add all the required dimensions to define your sketch but will also find all relations needed to reduce the number of dimensions used in the sketch.

solidworks fully defined sketch option

SOLIDWORKS Fully Define Sketch option

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TriMech Solutions, LLC

TriMech provides thousands of engineering teams with 3D design and rapid prototyping solutions that work hand-in-hand, from sketch to manufacturing. Javelin became a subsidiary of TriMech Solutions LLC in 2021.