Tips for Printing to Scale in Layout

We get questions about scaling and units a lot in Support, so I’m posting here so that I can send a non-current user this way for help. This covers every way I can think about precise scaling and units and printing to scale in Layout, so one of these will probably help most situations. It’s also in chronological order of workflow, so the printing part is at the end.

First, how NOT to scale drawings:
The “Scaled Drawing” window in Layout does not scale the SketchUp model viewport, or the Layout page. Rather, if you draw lines manually in Layout and make them into a group, you can add a scale to that group with this menu window. Selecting a scale in the Preferences also does not scale the page, it’s just a list of scales available to apply to individual viewports from a different menu, in case you want to add a custom scale or remove the ones you’ll never use to tidy up the list.

HOW TO scale the drawing and the page:

  1. Make sure the SketchUp model is scaled properly in SketchUp Pro. This article describes how do that:

  2. For orthographic view, such as a Front or Top View, please ensure that your Scenes in SketchUp Pro are set up as “Parallel Projection”. The only way to print to scale is to use these orthographic parallel projections.
    To do this, in SketchUp, select Camera > Parallel Projection and then select the desired View state by navigating to Camera > Standard Views > and selecting from one of the defined view states.
    Also, naming Scenes in SketchUp is a good way to keep track of the different views later on in LayOut. Make sure to save the scene after updating it, and then save SketchUp, and then update the model reference in Layout to see these changes.

  3. In LayOut, verify that the Units for the document are correct and the Page Size is set to the ideal format for your project:

  • To set the Units, go to File > Document Setup > Units
  • To set the Page Size, select a pre-made template from the LayOut Startup Screen or go to File > Document Setup > Paper to manually change the size. Make sure the Units are set correctly first.
  1. Next, right-click on any geometry within the LayOut SketchUp Model Viewport and select the desired Scale. Another way to do this is in LayOut’s SketchUp Model panel. Here you can select the desired scale or create a custom scale, but only if the SketchUp Viewport is selected on the page.

[ Note: It is important that you select “Preserve Scale on Resize” in the SketchUp Model panel to ensure that your scale does not change when altering the Viewport. ]

  1. When creating Dimensions, select the desired Units before creating dimensions.

To do this, select the Dimensions tool, then navigate to the Dimension Style panel and select the desired type of unit and format. If you need to, you can select dimensions and then change the units in the Dimensions window after the fact.

  1. Finally, if you plan on creating similar drawings in the future, it is a good idea to save these unit settings in a Layout Template for future use.

To do this, copy your work file that has all unit settings chosen correctly, then strip out all specific content, select File > Save As Template… Once the template has been saved, you can access it from the LayOut Startup Screen in the future.

  1. If the difficulty is in printing to scale, the issue is commonly with the printer settings adding borders or not having the correct paper size. Instead of printing directly from Layout, I recommend exporting the file as a PDF, and then print from the PDF file. If the print settings scale is set to “Scale to Fit” then there will be added margins, so make sure the printing scale is set to 100% both for PDF printing or printer printing, and that the print settings aren’t adding borders.

A small comment to point 7:
When you set the PDF to print to 100% without adding margins, you typically get an error message. If your LayOut page size is set to same as the paper in the printer, this can be usually be safely ignored. Of course, if you have items that extend to the edge of the page and your printer doesn’t support borderless printing the error message is accurate.

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There is a Mac specific issue when printing and choosing to save a PDF or send to Preview. If you have Any Printer selected, the layout will be off center slightly. If you have selected an actual printer, the PDF sent to Preview will be centered correctly.

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As far as I understand this is because the any printer has no left border. So it move half the width of the border.
I did notice this when I was creating images and pdf’s in Swift.

Some long feature requests to make this process easier:

  1. Allow scales to be entered directly as text and not just selected from a huge list. Writing 1:100 is much faster than manually selecting “1 X = 100 X (1:100)” out of all the bloat in the list.

  2. Call parallel projection parallel projection in LayOut too. I have no idea why LayOut uses the term Ortho for what SketchUp calls parallel projection. Also, to me an orthogonal view would mean a view aligned with the model axes, which really has nothing to do with it being a parallel projection or not. Front is aligned with the model axes even if perspective. An elevation of an angled facade can be parallel projection but not what I’d call orthogonal.


Two more points on the LO dev list.
I found it pitty that they didn’t rename it at the same time as the layers/tag renaming. ( besides of thet I would go for Collection instead of Tag. Like collection of Objects.)

And your point about manualy input like 1:100, would be great. But if it is a new scale, auto save it or leave it? Otherwise many typo’s will be in the list.

Just a side question. I am drawing in metrics, but how does it work with drawing in foot? What Is with 1:10 a foot?
I understands that 1:100 1 ft == 1" in drawings?

Tags are called tags also in layOut. The LayOut Layers (which have always acted like layers) are still called layers.

I don’t think anything should be saved to this list unless the user explicitly makes such a choice.

1:100 means one length unit in the drawing represent 100 length units in the real world. It makes no difference if the unit is meter, cm, foot, toe, banana (length) or tomato (diameter), as long as its a length unit.

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Yes, that’s what I’ve thought too. Fortunately people I’ve had to tell how to fix the issue did have a real printer they could choose. Wouldn’t they otherwise have to move every item on every page by that half border width?

I know. It was just a remark.

I know it was just an remark

O real, banana too?
Are you sure, I’am not writing about real live, but about drawings. I did read a page about that, and she wrote about 1ft:1". I did email them with that question, and did get 1:100 as answer. But found it weird.
And last year I did get from someone around here a Layout doc where he or she did draw a beam being around of 6 Inch on paper but the real size was 6 ft. With the scale remark 1:100.
I know civil engineer’s scale uses a different scale then Architect scales. I guess both persons didn’t it right.

What about a using PDF printer as default if you have no printers?
If I remember correctly I did use this for a while
At least I did download it a now for this machine to check it out if it still exist. ( keep an eye on the supplies, uses a lot you know. ;p )
Then you can make A0 paper. With adjusted border.
After seting up de PDFPrinter then I did chose ‘save as PDF’ in the PDFprinter dialog. Did work for me.

Maybe it does stil works.

As the Foot is a 12 based system most of our scales are multiples of 12. Common ones are:
1"drawing space = 6" IRL (1:6)
1"drawing space = 12" or 1’ IRL (1:12)
1"drawing space = 24" or 2’ IRL (1:24)
1"drawing space = 48" or 4’ IRL (1:48)

The ratio is always listed as Drawing Space Unit : In Real Life Number of Same Unit.

1:100 would be a very awkward ratio to use with the imperial system.


you may be interested in the swift PDF reader on this page…

the mac pdf musings on the site are all worth reading…


Thank you,

I will bookmark them, for next time. B.t.w, the Swift PDF project part does work well, it was a point of attention.

Thats the reason I was curious. Silly is a big word, but it does feel strange.

The effective place for some of these awesome Layout Feature requests is in this sub-Forum:

I’m concerned that if we keep posting wish-lists in this thread, that customers trying to get a project out the door who have questions or issues about how to actually print to scale with the current features right now are going to have too much tangential subject matter to read through, and their projects will be late. If you’ve posted your awesome ideas here, would you mind moving those over to the above link? The project managers look for feature request ideas there, not here. Thanks!

I think most of these things have been posted there at some point.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is one of my favorite idioms. It’s okay to post the same idea every year, it increases the chances that it will be implemented. Especially from expert users.

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1" = 1’ is a scale of 1:12

I had problems in my initial learning curve but those are gone now. All I do is set each LO viewport scale to 1/4" = 1’. Then when I export the LO file I always export it as a PDF file. I put it on a thumb drive. Take it down to my local print shop and have them print it on 24" x 36" paper. Works very time. I haven’t tried different scales or paper sizes yet. Thanks to Nick Sonder videos for this knowledge.

I dont understand why “print to scale” got so complicated. I used to do it from SU directly with: view page, type in the scale, got the preview, print. This was much easier then the 7 steps with Layout und .pdf…

but thanks for the 7-steps-instruktion, finally I got my print in right scale!