Everything is Awesome,
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team
Everything is Awesome when you’re living out a dreams
Everything is better when we stick together,
Side by side you and I gonna win forever?
Let’s party forever

– from The Lego Movie

1960s lego adphoto credit – ricoslounge

So you’ve created the perfect block, one that generations will be talking about, one that takes your drawing from ok to a work of art…. now what? How do you take that and start using it in all of your drawings? How do you share this with others on your team or within your organization?

Love it or hate it but AutoCAD always has more than one way of doing things. Many times this is because of how long its been around, or how it had to do things 25-years ago due to technological limitations. Other times its just comes from the growth and maturity or from acquisitions of other technology. Blocks are a prime example of how there are multiple ways to do something. Different methods to create blocks, various features to insert blocks, and many options to share the blocks with other drawings and other people. With blocks we can build a symbol library of individual files, we can copy & paste between drawings, we can build tool palettes and we can use the Design Center to “steal” content from one drawing to another.

Copy & Paste

AutoCAD is fully integrated with the Windows Clipboard, in fact there are AutoCAD specific features wrapped around the clipboard.

Select the block (or objects) you want to copy, right-click, and from the Clipboard flyout select the desired option: Note: the standard Windows Ctrl + x, Ctrl + c, and Ctrl + p also work

  • Copy adds the selected object(s) to the Windows Clipboard which you can Paste into the same drawing or into a different drawing.
  • Cut removes the selected object(s) from the active drawing, adding them to the Windows Clipboard. You can Paste these objects into the same drawing or into a different drawing
  • Copy with Base Point is the same as Copy except that it prompts you to select the base point of the objects. When Pasted opposed to using the lower left corner of the extents of the copied objects as the insertion point it will use the point you select as the base point.
  • Paste to Original Coordinates does exactly as advertised, pastes the copied objects to the exact geometric location as the original copied objects, even into a different drawing.
  • Paste as Block takes the copied objects from the Clipboard and creates a block definition and inserts a block instance as the geometry is pasted. A random name, well as least what seems random, is set as the name. The RENAME feature works well to quickly adjust the name to something more appropriate. Careful with this feature as if you Paste as Block a block you will end up with a block within a block.

Block Library & WBLOCK (Kicking it Old School!)

Blocks within AutoCAD go waaayyyy back, we’re talking DOS, tablets, digitizers, and pen plotters. The first implemented method of sharing blocks was to create a folder of files, each file representing one block. These files can be inserted using the Block insert command. Your Blocks are organized based on folders and sub-folders of files. This also makes it extremely easy to build menu features, slide libraries or toolbar buttons to insert the specific blocks.

This is still a supported and valid method, in fact during my reseller days I visited many organizations that maintain their symbol library in this fashion.

Using the INSERT command you can Browse and select any drawing to insert as a block.

Use the WBLOCK to export (write) the drawing, a portion of the drawing, or a specific block to its own file.

Here’s a video on the process, with a bonus tip on using INSERT to add standard layers to a drawing!