Using PrintStyle Tables in DraftSight

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated February 8, 2023


PrintStyles, also known as print styles, are tables containing a collection of overrides for entity properties. These include LineColor, LineStyle, LineWeight, dithering, screening, gray scale, end styles, join styles, fill styles, and pen assignments for pen plotters. This gives you precise control over what printed or plotted output looks like.

PrintStyle tables come in two flavors. Color-dependent print styles are the default and allow you to control how entities are printed based on what LineColor they have been assigned.  They use the .CTB file format. Named print styles are assigned to layers, or specific entities. They allow you to control print settings without regard to on-screen colors. They use the .STB file format. Each .DWG file will use one or the other, never both.

What kind of PrintStyle Tables am I Using?

Whether a particular drawing uses color-dependent or named print styles is determined at the time the drawing is first created based on the setting found in ‘Options > System Options > Printing > Default Settings > Default type’ as shown in the image below.

color-dependent printstyles

Which setting was in use when the drawing you are currently working with was created can be determined three ways. First, the read-only system variable EnblSTBS returns a ‘0’ if named PrintStyle tables are in use, or a ‘1’ if color-dependent PrintStyle tables are in use.

Second, there is a PrintStyle section on the Properties side panel. The third line will be greyed out and display ‘ByColor’ if color-dependent print styles are in use. If named print styles are in use, the third line will be a drop-down including the options ‘None’ and several .STB files to choose from.

monochrome printstyle

bylayer printstyle options in draftsight

Third, in the upper right corner of the Print dialog box there is a PrintStyle table drop down list. The list will contain only .CTB or .STB files to choose from, depending on whether color-dependent or named print styles are in use in the drawing you are about to print.

printstyles table data

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to convert a drawing which uses color-based print styles to named print styles, or vice-versa. What you can do is create a new empty drawing using the print style you want, copying the contents of the old drawing into it, and then overwriting the old file. You can copy contents from one drawing to another by coping and pasting, or by using the INSERTBLOCK command to insert the old drawing into the new one.

Color-Dependent PrintStyles

Every color in DraftSight can be defined by an index number from 1-255. Each of these ‘standard colors’ has a predetermined RGB value. For example, Color 2 is Yellow with a preset RGB value of 255,255,0 (Full intensity Red and Green, with no Blue.) Custom colors can also be defined which do not have an index number, but instead have a user defined RGB value.

Color print styles with custom colors

color dependent print styles

In a color dependent PrintStyle Table, each index color from 1-255 can be customized to determine exactly how entities of that color will print. The Print Style Table Editor image below shows settings for Color 1 in the monochrome.ctb file.

draftsight printstyles

There is a known limitation of color-dependent PrintStyle tables, as explained in the Knowledge Base Solution S-075567. When printing some drawings using the monochrome.ctb PrintStyle table, which is supposed to print all colors as black, some entities continue to print in color. The problem is color-dependent print style tables only affect the standard index colors 1-255, not custom colors. Any layers or entities with a custom RGB value for the LineColor variable continue to print with that color. The solution is to change them to use standard colors.

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Named PrintStyles

Named print style tables offer extremely flexible options. It’s common for users to want printed drawings to look exactly like they do on screen, or the same except for being monochrome. But this is not always the case. A PrintStyle table always contains a ‘Normal’ print style which prints entities with their default settings. It can also contain many other print styles, each allowing a wide range of output options.

The Color.stb PrintStyle table shown below includes 12 print styles. One style could be defined as the default for the drawing. Each layer could be assigned a different print style, so any entity on that layer with its PrintStyle variable set to ByLayer will print according to those settings. And, of course, any entity could have its PrintStyle variable set to a specific PrintStyle from the table.

The PRINTSTYLE and -PRINTSTYLE commands are available to manage named PrintStyles. The former opens a dialog box while the latter works with keyboard input.

active printstyle file


For most users the default PrintStyle tables work just fine, and print settings are usually straightforward. But there are cases where you need precise control to get the output you’re looking for. Whether you prefer color-based or named print styles, DraftSight gives you the tools you need to get the print you want. To learn more about printing and plotting drawings, visit the online help.

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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.