AutoCAD 101 Series – Blocks – How To

Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.  Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about.

This is the 2nd article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: Intro.  The last post was about what blocks are and are not and why you should use them – <link>, this post will be about how easy it is to make blocks.

Here’s how:

In the previous post, I gave multiple examples of items that could be blocks, in this post I will make one of those blocks to show you just how easy it is.  The following is a image of some basic blocks you would commonly use in your drawings.  The lines are dotted because i have them all selected in order to show the insertion point.  The color is controlled by the layer the block is on (we will discuss this in a future post) and the blue square shows the location of the insertion point of the block (we will get in to the importance of that in a future post as well).  For this post, I will show how to make the basic 2×4 light fixture shown on the left.







Figure 1

There basically three commands in AutoCAD to make blocks, “Block”, “Wblock” and “Paste as Block”.  Since this is a basic level post, I will not cover every option, but rather the ones you really need.

The BLOCK and WBLOCK commands are very similar, with the difference being where your block ends up.  If you want to make a block that you only plan on utilizing in the current drawing, you would just use the BLOCK command.  If you want to save the block out to your hard drive or server for use in other drawings/projects, you would use the WBLOCK command.  Now, don’t worry if you’re not sure, because you can always save an existing block out of your drawing at anytime in the future using the WBLOCK command which will let you export an existing block just as if you had used WBLOCK from the beginning.

The paste as block option is “ok” if you just need to make a down and dirty temp block that you will not likely use again.  PLEASE – don’t make this your go to option, because if you want re-use your blocks, the “Paste as Block option will require you to do more work later to rename the blocks and fix insertion points.

To see the results of a bunch of ‘Paste as Block’ work done, see the image below that shows the Block names – do you know what the block ‘A$C0BDB529F’ is? …Me either…










Figure 2

To show the differences between BLOCK and WBLOCK, I will show the most common options you should typically be using to create blocks.


Draw the objects you want to make in to a block.  For this fixture I will use the RECTANGLE, OFFSET, and  LINE commands.

  • Create the fixture perimeter by typing RECTANGLE
  • Pick a point on the screen
  • For the other point, type @24,48
  • Type OFFSET and choose 2″
  • Offset the outer line inward
  • Draw a line from the lower left internal “intersection” to the upper right intersection using your OSNAPS – “Don’t eye-ball it!”

You now have your light fixture symbol, you just need to make it a block.

  • Type BLOCK
    • The Block dialogue will pop up. See Figure 3 for most important items. The red ones you will do for each block, while the Blue items should be your defaults.
  • After hitting ok, select the lower left outside intersection of the light fixture. this will be your insertion point when you insert blocks.
  • BAM! your done!











Figure 3

To use this block, just type insert, choose your insert button or ribbon and select the “2×4-Light” block to insert and choose an intersection for your grid to insert the light and rotate as needed.


Draw the objects you want to make in to a block.  Repeat drawing steps from above.

You now have your light fixture symbol, you just need to make it a block.
  • Type WBLOCK
    • The WBlock or ‘Write Block’ dialogue will pop up. See Figure 4 for most important items. The red ones you will do for each block.
    • Note that the Wblock option requires a few in and outs where you need to select the Insertion point, (this can be required in the BLOCK dialogue also, if you do not have ‘Specify on-screen’ chosen), the objects, and the Destination (‘File name and path’).
    • After selecting the Destination, insertion and objects, you would choose ‘Ok’
  • If you avoid any of the steps, it will prompt you to make your selections before finalizing the block.
  • BAM! your done!












Figure 4

To use this block, just type insert, choose your insert button or ribbon and select the “2×4-Light” block to insert and choose an intersection for your grid to insert the light and rotate as needed.


You probably noticed a few differences in the process as well as some similarities.  There are some options in each that are not available in the other.  These difference come from how the commands are intended to be used most often.  BLOCK is meant to create blocks within your current drawing, where as WBLOCK is meant to write blocks out to an external storage location, typically your server.  Because WBLOCK allows you to do either, you may default to that.  But, keep in mind that the Block command gives you a few key options that the WBLOCK command does not:

  • Annotative
  • Allow Exploding
  • Open in Block editor

Annotative allows you to make Annotative or ‘autoscaling’ objects that will autoscale by the current ‘Annotation scale’ setting.  This is great for symbolic objects that require scaling each time they are inserted.  Items that are useful as Annotative objects include: Column bubbles, Key notes, graphic symbols of objects like electrical outlets, room names, north arrows, plan titles, etc..  This is a whole other topic I will touch on in a future post.

Allow exploding
Allow exploding is something that most savvy block creators will uncheck.  How many times have you created a block only to find it exploded in a drawing?  Ughh – Why?  The user did not know how to adjust something in the block or as I have seen in some cases, clueless (non-educated) users think that exploding blocks will minimize drawing issues or is the only way to change a color or linetype. (See how to rectify this with the block editor in the next post).

Block Editor
Block editor is a very handy tool that has taken away a lot of the issues that happened in the past from users not knowing how to redefine blocks.  If you have been around long enough, you have seen doors and toilets that are rotated at the wrong angle or scaled way out of proportion throughout and entire drawing because someone screwed up the block definition. In the next post we will get in to this powerful and easy tool.

WBLOCK has one key feature that BLOCK cannot do – Write your blocks out of the drawing. Typically you make your blocks using the BLOCK command and then Write Block them out to you companies Standards folder(s).  Once you have created the 2×4-Light fixture using the BLOCK command, the following steps/graphic shows how you write it out to an external folder.

  • Type WBLOCK
  • Choose the ‘Block:’ option under ‘Source’
  • Type in or browse to the folder that you want to save the block to
  • Select ‘OK’
  • BAM! your done!












Figure 5

Pretty easy huh?  A way to quickly have the Write Block dialogue choose ‘Block:’ and choose the correct block to write out automatically is to highlight the actual block prior to typing Wblock.

Old School

The steps above are based on command line typing, but you can access the BLOCK and WBLOCK commands through your ribbon and Toolbars as well – do whatever makes you feel more comfortable and start making your work go quicker with Blocks.


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