You Say Printing, I Say Plotting

Plotting originally meant creating hard-copy output on a device that was capable of printing on larger sheets, such as D size or E size (or A1 or A0 for the metrically inclined), that measure several feet (or a meter or more) on a side. (See Chapter 4 for information about drafting-paper sizes.) These plotters often used pens to draw, robot-fashion, on large sheets of vellum or drafting film. The sheets could then be run through diazo blueline machines—copying machines that create blueline prints — in order to create less-expensive copies. Printing meant creating hard-copy output on ordinary printers that used ordinary-sized paper, such as A size (letter size, 8½ × 11 inches) or B size (tabloid or ledger size, 11 × 17 inches)—that's A4 or A3 for you metric folk.

Nowadays, AutoCAD and most CAD users make no distinction between plotting and printing. AutoCAD veterans usually say “plotting,” so if you want to be cool, you can do so, too.

Whatever you call it, plotting an AutoCAD drawing is considerably more complicated than printing a word-processing document or a spreadsheet. CAD has a larger range of different plotters and printers, drawing types, and output procedures than other computer applications. AutoCAD tries to help you tame the vast jungle of plotting permutations, but you'll probably find that you have to take some time to get the lay of the land and clear a path to your desired hard-copy output.

Get with the system

One of the complications ...

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