Support practices/norms applied in several European countries for dimension formats

Looking after an automatic support of following formatting practice of dimensions, in accordance with standards applied in several countries for architectural drawings (metric system):

Can you furnish or reference these published standards? It would be nice to get the requirement from the horse’s mouth?


Personally that would confuse me: having a mix of m, mm and cm on the same drawing.

I would rather see (m) 6.405 | 6.450 | 0.545 | 0.540
or (cm) 640.5 | 645.0 | 54.5 | 54.0
or (mm) 6405 | 6450 | 545 | 540

Preferably the last one


the so called ‘Architectural Dimensioning’ according to DIN 1365:

Beuth DIN-Verlag
TU Hamburg : Methoden der Darstellung - Bauzeichnungen (see page 29) : Bauzeichnung

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Found someone else pointing to the “New Metric Handbook” which seems to point to the UK standard: Metric Handbook - David Adler - Google Books

And here I was, admiring the simplicity of just entering mm! Seems that those behind metric standards are jealous of our imperial units (feet broken into 12 inches broken into sixteenths… Or thirty-seconds… Or sixty-fourths…) :laughing:

I have been a metric user all my life, and it is the first time I ever heard of this kind of notation. We here use millimeters with no unit text, and no one has a problem with that, my ancestors used centimeters in the same way.

Indicating 5 mm with the notation that in scientific notation means “to the power of five” is certain to cause confusion. How did they manage in the days of manual drafting? Having to use two different-sized stencils to produce every dimension text would have driven me insane.


Thanks to sketch3d_de for providing the German references.

Adding the Swiss Norm SN 500 400 (equivalent to SIA 400:200), see annex B section B.5.2.

Here also a practical example for France (may someone know whether the underlying norm is really NF P02-005 as it seems to be).

I’d like to be able to provide even more references, but most norms are copyrighted and not freely available. Beside the formal requirement, I witness this common practice in architecture and civil engineering. Supporting it in Layout may answer the needs of a of number SketchUp users.

Indeed on the first sight, this number format may appear confusing. Trying to put things in their context…

The usage of this notation is limited to scaled drawings in the building/construction area, where cm and m are the most common units to express dimensions of rooms, windows and doors (when using the metric system obviously).

Its purpose is to increase graphical readability by reducing the need for leading or tailing zeroes - drawing space is precious especially when walls and openings come together at angles. See links in the other posts for graphical examples - here an excerpt.

This drawing might show better than thousand words why the mix of units and the use of the exponential notation is not so disturbing - in that particular context. BtW it shows also how this was managed in the days of manual drawing - it was in fact usual to have various stencil sizes on the desk and to quickly change between them (the pain was rather to draw the letters…).

Thanks, that drawing clears this a little bit (but if you are from a country that uses just plain millimeters, that is really confusing).

So the heading of this thread is incorrect. It should be “Support for the German DIN-standard for architectural dimension formats”.

I’ve seen drawings with this german system over 20 years ago (made by hand) and I thought it is an old system that is not used in CAD-era anymore.

If you are in a country that uses ISO-standard (metric-system), then ISO should give you general principles of how to present drawings.

  1. Architectural field has differences in presenting dimensions, like mentioned here. Has every country developed their own method? Hopefully not.

  2. In mechanical engineering you just use millimeters, I suppose?

  3. Civil engineering - plain millimeters or meters according to the situation?

Plain millimeters for dimension format in architectural drawings is my choice.

I’m with Anssi. Here in the Netherlands cm was used in (building-) construction drawings. But that was more than some 40 years ago. It’s all millimeters now unless… (see * below).
With mecanical engineering it has been millimeters for as long as I can remember.

Millimeters is the standard with no text. (*) Of course one can apply other dimension units on the same drawing but this has to be obvious by adding the dimension unit’s text. And there has to be a specific note on the drawing when this is the case.

So your European standard is certainly no standard and confusing, to say the least.

This is the first time I have seen something of a consensus implying the superiority of the western imperial system of measurement. :smile:

Oh, is it?
As I said: “your (OP’s) European standard is not the standard…”)

Whatever notation is used, metric is the way to go but has to be clear for all readers. No doubt allowed!

even in (pure) AC (= made for hard core shop drawings) this needs to be configured manually:

(see ~28:00)

AC Architecture provides a predefined ‘AEC Dimension’.

Interesting point of view. Here is how Graphisoft’s Archicad handles it:

Link to the source of this information.

To be fair, SketchUp is a much cheaper software and it may not be realistic to expect the same exhaustiveness. On the other hand, architects belong to its target audience, and some of these features may foster its adoption in Switzerland, Germany and France (see the links provided in the earlier posts of this thread). Especially sharing plans with doors dimensioned with “0.80” or walls with “0.16” (instead of 16 and 80) or using plain mm would be considered very unusual.

A possibility may be to allow the user to enter a formatting pattern (like #.00 in excel or java - adding a notation for the superscript…).

Australians use mm too in the building industry. We only use m for large dimensions such as site boundaries etc. where its usually text not a dim.

Austr i ans seem to use cm and mm as superscript (similar to the Swiss or German norms, but without the dot). Link to an example referring to ÖNORM A 6240-2.