What is Xref in AutoCAD? How to use it Effortlessly!

Since I am using Xrefs in almost every project I think that Xrefs deserve special attention, so in the next few posts, I will try to explain everything you need to know about the external references.

What is Xref in AutoCAD?


An Xref in AutoCAD is a reference to an external drawing file that can be inserted into a host drawing. The Xref file is linked to the host drawing, rather than being embedded in it so that any changes made to the Xref file will be reflected in the host drawing, and vice versa. This allows multiple drawings to be edited independently, while still maintaining consistency between them.

Any changes will be portrayed in the current drawing when the Xref is reloaded. The attached drawings are linked to, but not actually inserted in the drawing, therefor our current drawing stays light and responsive, without significantly increasing the drawing file size.

Why should we use Xrefs?

There are a lot of very important reasons why should we use external references in AutoCAD. We have made a list of the Xref Advantages:

  1. As mentioned before, Xrefs keeps the drawing files’ size at bay.
  2. AutoCAD External References allow many users to work on individual components of a project.
    For example, an Architectural Floor plan can be easily used as an External reference while working on a furniture plan, water, and sewer plan, or electrical plan. If a correction to the said Floor Plan is made it will be automatically applied to all other drawings.
    Example 2: In big projects, for example, building a Power plant, the Road Designer can attach the Land Survey and Architectural plans as a reference while she is designing the roads. At the same time, the Landscape Architect would attach the pavement plan to his drawings while he is designing the landscape and so on.
  3. You can Xref drawings that they themselves reference other drawings – this is called nesting and is great for keeping an eye on multiple drawings at the same time. Similar to Example 2 above. Learn about different attachment types.
  4. Xrefs can be added, unattached, updated, reloaded, and clipped in the main drawing at any time. That way we have full control over them. Learn about Xref’s “Extras”
  5. We can control Xref’s layers in the current drawing without affecting the host drawing. Should I edit Xref in-place?
  6. If someone makes a correction in a referenced drawing and forgets to tell you, it will automatically appear in your drawing. That way mistakes can be avoided. (External references will be automatically reloaded when opening the host drawing.)
  7. Xrefs can be used to separate sensitive information from the main project file, thus providing an added layer of security.
  8. External References allow common elements, such as title blocks, general notes, and standard details, to be reused across multiple drawings, rather than having to be recreated or inserted as Blocks in each one.


In conclusion, Xrefs in AutoCAD are a powerful tool for managing and organizing complex projects. They allow for multiple drawings to be linked together, enabling collaboration, reusability, and efficiency. External references in AutoCAD provide flexibility, security, and organizational benefits to the users. They are an essential feature for any professional using AutoCAD for their design and engineering work.

Hope you find this information useful. You can check other AutoCAD Related posts!

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