The National CAD Standard (NCS) from the National Institute of Building Sciences includes AIA layering guidelines, but these standards docs are $$$ and I don't know how applicable they are to LAs. What is a good common resource for LA CAD standards? Thanks.

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You can generally find the general idea of the standards to download somewhere to view for free (google search), which include LA layers. As well, you can create your own layers as needed as long as they fit the conventions. I've pretty much always used a similar system, and it has worked out very well, especially when dealing with many different discipline's contributions in the same file.

I have followed a similar protocol - developing my own definitions for layers - but I'm really interested in learning about the standards used in a professional office. Do you follow AIA conventions, for example?

Well, they aren't just AIA standards, the idea was that all the allied professions would adopt them to make file sharing and references actually work, which is getting to be critical for using REVIT. And I do use the NCS and have for many years.

Be resourceful and do your own. Who knows better than you what you need? I had the same problem and realized years ago that AIA layers are esoteric and deal only within their constraints. Start with creating a template plan and list the elements you use the most. This really doesn't take that long and really becomes simple once you get into it. And its yours, so it becomes familiar and easy to remember. Mine is about 140 layers which I can add to or delete as I wish. I do have separate templates for base plans, design layout and construction detailing. I keep the naming to as few characters as possible to keep from having to expand the layer property names across the screen. I use a lot of xref's and you know what that means!

The truth about standards as they always originate with someone who seem to believe their way is the best. What matters is what helps you produce your work efficiently. It matters to your employer in terms of how much time you spend on a project and how much personal time you spend trying to figure these things out.

Hi Regina,

Great question!  Here is the pdf version of AIA CAD Layer Guidelines.  I typically use a modified version of the layer naming convention, but always prefix layer names with L- to designate landscape layers.  For example, L-WALL, L-PAV, etc. 

Also, here are a couple of other discussion on Land8 that you might want to reference:

Layer Naming Convention -

AIA CAD Standards


I actually begin my layer nomenclature with "0-L" because it moves to the top of the list. With multiple xref layers (I work in an AE firm) I might have literally a thousand layers to look at and this saves a lot of time.

I just found out you can also define layer filters in the layer manager : saves a lot of time when there are too many to deal with.

I made a filter for planting (all), one just for trees, one for all other plants

Then some other for master plan, paper space, etc...

By default, you can already select which Xrefs in the drawing you want to display.

great tool :D 

Thanks Andrew. Now I can finally get a look at the AIA guidelines... and decide what is useful. I have been using my own nomenclature (as many in this blog have advised me to do). However,  I believe it's always a good idea to start from the accepted standards and then improve them rather than reinvent the wheel. I'll check out the other discussions, too.


I have developed more than one set of CAD standards and the firms that I have worked for are as varied from Engineering firms to Land Planning and Landscape Architecture. In each of these circumstances my clients have asked that the basis of design is the National CAD standard.

The other guidance that you have received here is very good as well. You should develop your layers and line weights based on your workflow. I would suggest to you that you do adhere to a naming convention that, in the event you share your files, someone can make sense of.

Also AutoCAD has numerous ways to filter layer names so I would suggest you start with a prefix to keep them separate from other disciplines. Best of luck.


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