Print to a .pdf file, plot file (.plt) or printer

Tekla Structures
Tekla Structures
line weight
line width
line thickness
pen number

Print to a .pdf file, plot file (.plt) or printer

You can print drawings and selected drawing areas to .pdf files, plot files (.plt) to be sent to a plotter/printer, or to a printer. You can also change the colors and the related line thicknesses (pen numbers) in the printed drawings. You can print to a single printer or to multiple printers.

Print to a single printer

  1. On the File menu, click Printing > Print drawings.

    You can also start printing in Document manager by selecting the drawings, right-clicking and selecting Print, or by selecting File > Print drawings when a drawing is open.

  2. In the upper-left corner, select Use one printer.
  3. Load the desired printing settings from the settings list.

    You can also give the settings a new name. In this case, you need to give the new name before you modify any settings, otherwise your changes will be lost. For more information about the printing settings, see Printing settings and search order.

  4. On the displayed Document manager, select the drawings that you want to print.

    Any out-of-date drawings are detected and you are asked whether to include them in the output or not.

    You can also print locked drawings that are up to date. If a locked drawing is not up to date, you cannot open or print it, and a failed printout will be reported. You can print any unlocked drawing unless the status of the drawing is Original part deleted.

  5. To show a preview of a drawing, select it from the list of drawings at the top of the Print Drawings dialog box, and click Click here to load a preview.

    The drawings are shown one by one in a preview. The preview shows the drawings always up to date. Use Next and Previous to scroll through the set of selected drawings.

  6. Select the printing option:
    • PDF file: Converts drawings to PDF format.
    • Printer: Sends the drawings to the selected printer.
    • Plot file: Converts drawings to print files in a format suitable for the selected printer and saves them in a specified location.
  7. Define the printing settings on the Options tab. The available settings depend on the printing option that you have selected:
    Option Description

    File location

    Enter the location for the .pdf or plot file, or use Browse... to browse for the folder.

    The \Plotfiles folder under the model folder is the default value.

    Include revision mark to file name

    Add the mark of the latest revision of the printed drawing to the file name.

    Revision number is used by default. If you always want to use the revision mark, set the advanced option XS_​SHOW_​REVISION_​MARK_​ON_​DRAWING_​LIST to TRUE.

    Open folder when finished

    Open the .pdf or plot file folder in Windows Explorer after the printout has been created.

    Open folder when finished

    Open the .pdf file after it has been created.

    Output to single file

    Print the selected drawings to a single .pdf file.

    If you do not select this option, each drawing will be printed in a .pdf file of its own.

    File name

    Give a file name to a pdf file. The file name is compulsory if you are printing to a single file.

    File extension

    Specify a file name extension for the plot file. The default is plt.

    File prefix

    File suffix

    Enter a specific prefix and/or suffix in the file name.

    When you enter a prefix or suffix, the print file name preview under the File prefix and File suffix boxes will reflect the change immediately.

    The print file name can also be controlled by a couple of advanced option switches for customizing print file names. These switches do not work for single combined multiple drawings .pdf file.

    Fit to paper

    Fit the drawing to a specific paper size.


    Force the printout to a specific scale.

    The Scale value will turn red if the drawing cannot fit on the specified sheet.

    Center drawing on paper Center the drawing on the sheet (or sheets).

    Print on multiple sheets

    Print on multiple sheets and specify the direction of printing the sheets. Select either Left to right, top to bottom or Bottom to top, right to left.

    When you use Print on multiple sheets, select a particular paper size.

    Paper size

    Define the paper size or use automatic size.

    With the Auto setting Tekla Structures selects the paper size that has the least wasted area when the scaled print is fitted to the printable area on the sheet.

    Printers are often unable to print on the full area of a sheet, and leave borders. The printable area is determined for the selected printer when the option Printer or Plot file is selected. For .pdf files, the printer is not known so the output is sized to the full sheet. However, when printing a .pdf, the same problem exists and the drawing content is fitted to the printable area of whatever printer is being used. The printable area is shown with white background and the non-printable border is shaded gray in the image below.

    Two configuration files affect paper sizes and drawing sizes: PaperSizesForDrawings.dat and DrawingSizes.dat . For more information, see Configuration files used in printing


    Define the orientation or use automatic orientation.

    The Auto setting means that the orientation that wastes least space is selected automatically.


    Select if the output is to be Color, Black and white or Grayscale.

    Number of copies

    Define the number of plot file or paper copies to be printed.


    Collate the printout when you are printing multiple copies.

    Embed fonts

    Embed the fonts in a .pdf file.

    This ensures that fonts may be reproduced in a system that does not have the same fonts installed, but this also increases the file size. In certain cases, fonts may be embedded automatically. When using non-Latin fonts, it is recommended that embedding is selected, otherwise the .pdf may not be displayed correctly.

    Select area

    Select a rectangular area from an open drawing to only show and print that area. This option only works when you have a drawing open.

    All settings in the dialog box also work when this option is selected, and you can change the orientation, line thicknesses, and paper size, for example.

    Show entire drawing

    When you have selected an area with Select area, the Show entire drawing button is displayed, and you can use it to show the entire drawing in the preview again.

  8. Go to the Line properties tab to map colors to line thicknesses (pen numbers) and set the printout colors:
    Option Description

    Object color

    Shows the basic set of object colors.

    Color on output

    • Set the printout color by clicking a color box under Color on output and selecting a new color from the displayed colors. You can also define custom colors.

    Different output color is often used when you just need one or two lines in color and the rest in black. Output colors are used in all printing options (printer, plot file and PDF file). The output colors are saved to and loaded from the printing settings files.

    If you select the Printer line colors through File > Settings, and change a line color, the change is immediately shown in the drawing.

    The Color on output only applies when the Color option is set to Color on the Options tab in the Print Drawings dialog box.

    For instructions on how to show correct line thicknesses in the Black and white mode, see Line thickness in drawings.

    Line thickness

    • Enter the line thickness for each color in the boxes.

    Line thicknesses are expressed as a multiple of the advanced option XS_BASE_LINE_WIDTH value. The default value for this advanced option is 0.01 mm. For example, pen number 25 will give a line weight of 0.25 mm.

    In color drawings, the lines are shown with different thicknesses on the screen and in the printouts if the Printer line widths switch is active in File > Settings.

    You can define Invisible color for parts and shapes in drawings in the part or shape properties. The Invisible color is not shown in printouts, neither on paper nor on .pdf.

    For instructions on how to show correct line thicknesses in the drawing in the Black and white mode, see Line thickness in drawings.

    Reset colors

    You can reset the printout colors:

    • To reset an individual output color, click the corresponding Object color color box. The Color on output color box will change to have the same color.

    • To reset all output colors to be the same as the object colors, click the Reset colors button.

  9. If you need to change Windows printing settings for a printer or for a plot file, click the Properties... button and change the necessary settings.
  10. Save your printing settings by using the Save button in the upper-left corner.

    For more information about the printing settings and the search order, see Printing settings and search order.

    You can also add frames and foldmarks to you printouts.

  11. Click Print to print the drawings in .pdf format or as plot files, or to send them to a printer according to the settings you defined in the dialog box.

    Each drawing is sent to the printer as a separate print job.

    All printing errors are written to a log file in the model folder: logs\DPMPrinter_<username>.log .

Example: Printing to multiple sheets

In the example below the setting Bottom to top, right to left is selected. The numbers indicate the printing order of the sheets.

In the next example, the option Left to right, top to bottom is selected.

Print to multiple printers

You can print to more than one printer in one go based on the paper size of each selected drawing. When printing to multiple printers you typically have different printers for handling different paper sizes. Tekla Structures automatically selects the appropriate printer for each drawing.

Create single printing settings

To be able to print to multiple printers, you first need to create single printing settings for each of the printers you want to print to:

  1. On the File menu, click Printing > Print drawings.

  2. Select Use one printer.

  3. Define the printing properties as desired on the Options tab and on the Line properties tab. Select the output type and printer, and define the paper size that this printer will handle in the Use multiple printers mode.

  4. Save the settings with a desired name by clicking Save.

  5. Repeat this for each of the desired paper sizes. Do not use the size option Auto.

    For example, you could create the following single printer settings files with the output type set to PDF file:

    • PDF A4: Paper size set to A4, file prefix set to A4_
    • PDF A3: Paper size set to A3, file prefix set to A3_
    • PDF A2: Paper size set to A2, file prefix set to A2_

    When printing a set of drawings in the multiple printers mode using the above single printer settings files, all A4 drawings will generate .pdf files with prefix A4_, all A3 drawings will have prefix A3_, and all A2 drawing will generate .pdf files with prefix A2_.

    If you want to print more than one sheet size to the same printer in the Use multiple printers mode, create a single printer settings file for each paper size, and specify the same printer in all of these files.

Print to multiple printers

  1. On the File menu, click Printing > Print drawings.
  2. In the upper-left corner, select the Use multiple printers mode.
  3. In the Selected single printer settings files list, select the settings files to use in printing. You can select all or just some of the single printer settings files.

    The output type (printer, plot file, PDF file) is defined by each selected single printer settings file. Typically you would select settings files with the same output type. Output types lists the output types that are specified in the selected single printer settings files.

  4. Change other necessary settings on the Options tab.
    The available settings depend on the output type you have selected. The settings are described in the "Print to a single printer" section above.
  5. On the displayed Document manager, select the drawings that you want to print.
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