Frequently asked question

Is it possible to retain symbology when exporting data to CAD?

Last Published: April 25, 2020


Symbology from ArcGIS cannot be retained when exporting data to a Computer Aided Design (CAD) format. This is a known limitation as ArcGIS uses different methods for creating symbology than that used in AutoCAD.
However, there is an option to reset the symbology when a drawing file is opened in the AutoCAD application. To do so, follow the steps below:
  1. Export data such as shapefiles to geodatabase feature classes.
  2. Label the features with desired attributes.
  3. Convert the labels to geodatabase annotation.
  4. Export the annotation along with these features to CAD format.
Refer to the following ArcGIS Help page: Preparing a DWG file for the step-by-step process of creating an AutoCAD seed file for use with the Export To CAD tool when exporting point features and attributes as block references.
This process does not work with shapefile input. The data must be in a personal or file geodatabase feature class.
When the data has been exported to CAD with a BLOCK definition, the blocks can be symbolized with an appropriate symbol in AutoCAD.

Additional information and suggestions for further controlling output with the Export to CAD tool are included in the following Knowledge Base articles:

Article ID:000012813

  • ArcMap

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