PDF Imports into AutoCAD2018  

It’s no surprise that PDF files are the most commonly used file format when sharing design information between Architects, Designers, Contractors, Sub-Contractors, and Owner as well as a few others, so when AutoCAD introduced the PDFIMPORT, last year allowing AutoCAD users to convert PDF content into AutoCAD entities it was a drastic game changer to be able to repurpose that data very quickly. Unfortunately, like anything new that rolls out there is going to be some things to tweak, so Autodesk got to work right away trying to correct those concerns in AutoCAD 2018. The wonderful thing was Autodesk released those items in the AutoCAD 2017.1 Update so their AutoCAD customers would not have to wait for new release to come out.

One of the biggest issues was, the PDF format stores text using TrueType fonts, but the PDF does not support text that uses AutoCAD SHX fonts. Instead, text objects that use SHX fonts are stored in PDF as geometric objects to maintain visual fidelity. So basically, what that meant was if the PDF had been created with AutoCAD SHX Font files, those text objects would import into AutoCAD geometry and not Text. (Notice the Romans.shx was converted to Polylines below.)



Now, first we can all agree that this is more of a work around rather than a fix, but until it automatically works while being imported, they have provided a couple of tools to help correct the issue, and save valuable time!

The tools that will allow you to correct this problem can easily be access on the Insert tab-> Import panel on the Ribbon menu.


a. [Recognize SHX Text] Button
When you import a PDF file that includes SHX geometry, you can use PDFSHXTEXT as a post-processing tool to convert the selected geometry into single-line Mtext objects, based on the settings. (See b.)

Note: To get the best results, the closest matching SHX font against which to compare the selected SHX geometry, also be careful to select only SHX geometry. If you select small amounts of text you will increase your chances for locating problems and reduce the possibility of inadvertently selecting non-SHX geometry.

b. [Recognition Settings] Button


Besides providing Font previews, choosing what SHX fonts to compare, (in order of priority) and even control what layer you want the text to be placed on when converted. The settings also allow control of the Recognition threshold of how closely the PDF text appears to the font, (in case of questionable appearances are not recognized, along with Use best matching font.) But, when the font is not recognized it will display a message assisting the user of how much the font is recognize.


This will allow you to change your setting to better increase your odds of being able to convert your geometry to AutoCAD Text objects. I changed the settings exactly to 81% and I selected the text in red again. (see below.)



Notice that not all the text was converted, and it gave me the percentage of how much I selected was not converted. (Only the items in blue) The recommended solution to this is to either drop the setting more, and/or better yet, select fewer objects to convert. For example, each line separately. Unfortunately, please realize this does not always work! Sometimes it’s faster to take what you can get out of it, and just fix the rest manually by retyping it afterwards.

(…As I had to in this situation.)

Once it is converted, the next issue is they are separate lines of text, not Mtext. But the good news is they have also located the TXT2MTXT command from the Express Tools menu right next to the PDF text recognition command.


       a. [Combine Text] Button

Allows you to combine single-line or multiline text objects into one or more multiline text objects.

       b. TXT2MTXT <Settings> Dialog Box Options


Dialog Box Options

First make sure “Combine into a single mtext object” is checked.

Next under Text ordering:

If you choose Sort top-down, that specifies the order of the selected text by descending vertical position.

If you choose Select order of text that specifies the order of the selected text by manual selection.

Word-wrap text Combines all the lines of text into a single line, and then wraps any text that exceeds the width of the mtext object to the next line.

Force uniform line spacing, applies consistent interline spacing and paragraph spacing when word wrap is turned on. Paragraph spacing is 50% larger than interline spacing. This can be unchecked if not using Word-wrap text option.

Once I have done these steps you can see how I was able to change this revision note that came in from the PDF as polylines, into Mtext objects inside my AutoCAD Drawing in a very short amount of time!



So, there you have some of “The Issues”, the available “Workaround Steps” and their “Settings”, and hopefully provided some valuable information when importing PDF’s into AutoCAD 2018!

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Isaac Harper is a Technical Specialist with ATG USA in Phoenix, Ariz. He provides technical expertise and core training, drafting and programming services, and has more than 30 years of Autodesk Certified Instructor and Certified Technical Trainer experience. Isaac is ATG’s go-to-guy for the AutoCAD skills that lie at the foundation of AEC software tools and increased productivity.

Applied Technology Group is a Platinum Autodesk Business Partner. Founded in North Little Rock, Ark., in 1992 as a local computer services company, ATG has grown to become a leading design technology partner with the purpose of assisting customers in maximizing the value and adoption of advanced technologies so they can perform competitively in the AEC sector. ATG collaborates with customers across the Gulf South, Midwest and Southwest through partnerships with 3DR, Autodesk, Leica, Microsoft and Panzura. Learn more about our company at www.atgusa.com.


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