North Arrow orientation

Discussion in 'AutoCAD' started by Ron C, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. Ron C

    Ron C Guest

    Hello All,

    Does anybody know if there is ANSI (or other) standard for orienting the
    North Arrow. I've always been taught, formally and informally that id should
    always point up or to the right or any angle in between.

    Where can I find documentation to support this?

    Thanks for the help,

    Ron C, Apr 21, 2004
  2. Ron C

    Tom Smith Guest

    Does anybody know if there is ANSI (or other) standard for orienting the
    This has been beaten to death at least once, though I can't find the thread

    As far as I know, there isn't a universal rule on this. If you're trying to
    win an argument, you might eventually find some rule that covers your
    specific discipline, but I'm quite sure there isn't any law that covers all

    I've been practicing architecture for about 25 years, and every set of
    building plans I've ever seen have been squared up with the sheet, with the
    front of the building at the bottom of the sheet. Nobody cares where north
    is. If an arrow is included, for orientation on a large project, it nearly
    always shows true north vs "plan" north -- so that the elevations can be
    labeled north, south, etc even though they aren't exactly oriented that way.

    The contrary school of thought comes from surveyors or mapmakers, who aren't
    drawing anything but undeveloped ground. Some of them will tell you that
    north "MUST" be straight up in all cases. But my buddy the highway engineer
    says he's never seen engineering drawings for a highway done that way --
    they're drawn with north generally pointing to the upper right, as you say,
    and the sheet aligned to that section of road.

    It depends on your discipline. If you're drawing a map, people expect north
    to be up. If you're drawing man-made objects like buildings, people expect
    the object to determine the orientation, with no regard at all to where
    north is. You don't draw the object that you're designing all cockeyed just
    because of compass directions. You draw it to fit on the sheet nicely and --
    mainly -- to be understandable.

    On large scale built developments, the normal practice is to orient whatever
    is the major axis of the development -- usually the principal highway --
    horizontally on the sheet, with the "entrance" to the development at the
    bottom. If that puts north pointing down, so be it.
    Tom Smith, Apr 21, 2004
  3. Ron C

    doug k Guest

    i set orientation to hold the dominant base line (usually a R.O.W.) at 0
    degrees, unless otherwise dictated by local codes. Practicality supersedes
    convention - in this case. YMMV
    doug k, Apr 21, 2004
  4. Ron C

    Allen Jessup Guest

    As someone working in Surveying I would agree with your friend. Mostly up
    and right unless there is an overriding reason for another orientation. Also
    with highway work you usually have stationing increasing to the right. That
    can sometimes conflict with the up/right rule.

    I wish your were correct about Surveyors only drawing undeveloped ground.
    around 80% of my time locating and drawing existing features. At someplace
    like the Bronx Zoo that can get complicated.

    North up the page for Cartography is mainly so the users can orient
    themselves quickly.

    Allen Jessup, Apr 21, 2004
  5. Ron C

    Tom Smith Guest

    No offense intended. In my field most of the "surveys" I see are bare sites,
    the drawings you describe would be included in what I'd call development
    drawings, i.e. the existing conditions.
    Tom Smith, Apr 21, 2004
  6. Ron C

    Ian A. White Guest

    I would be surprised if this is the case. The convention taught here in
    Australia is that north should generally point to the top or LEFT of the
    page. This is so that text can be read right way up as text should
    generally flow horizontally left to right or vertically bottom to top.

    The one exception I have come across is for things like evacuation plans
    where the entry of the building or site is at the bottom or right and
    you move into the building or site bottom to top, or right to left
    respectively, irrespective of the direction of north.
    Ian A. White, Apr 21, 2004
  7. Ron C

    jackshield Guest

    I point mine north?
    jackshield, Apr 21, 2004
  8. Ron C

    Tom Whatley Guest

    Thats the way I was taught. For the same reason you indicated as well as
    plans being bound on the left. Of course I'm in surveying, so north is
    instinctively up. I've only seen a few prints in my career with north
    pointing down. I guess some people can't orient themselves on the ground
    unless the plans are just the way they are standing. It always reminds me of
    a friend of mine who, when following a street map, has to keep turning it
    around every corner to orient himself. {:-o
    Tom Whatley, Apr 21, 2004
  9. Ron C

    Anne Brown Guest

    Anne Brown, Apr 22, 2004
  10. Ron C

    TALSKY Guest

    Made me laugh to read your question....
    A year or so ago, there was a major conversation here about that very subject.

    I was taught to make North either Up or to the LEFT. pointing it to the right is
    like pointing it down when the paper is turned to portrait position.

    There seemed to me last time around that there is no set law that it has to be this
    or that. At least none that will get you sent to jail without passing Go.

    I have an architect friend who insists that North always should point in the
    direction of the entry or front door. His view is that contractors are a stupid lot,
    and that is the only way to get them to know the correct orientation of the building
    to North. Maybe he once had an experience where the the building was built

    Another friend agrees with me about up and to the left.

    I have found others who agree with my first friend about pointing it toward the entry

    Jack Talsky
    TALSKY, Apr 22, 2004
    J Sayle likes this.
  11. Ron C

    TALSKY Guest

    If I remember correctly it was long.

    Jack Talsky
    TALSKY, Apr 22, 2004
  12. Ron C

    OLD-CADaver Guest

    Ditto here. The first drafting class I attended back in, geez, '67, we were instructed that North was ALWAYS UP OR TO THE LEFT. Been doing it that way ever since, although I've seen the arrow pointed in every way you can imagine.

    I even drew one down once. After we'd completed the entire package, the owner decided he wanted the front door facing North instead of West. With hand drawings it was loads easier to rotate the North arrow than it was to re-draw all the building plans.
    OLD-CADaver, Apr 22, 2004
  13. Ron C

    Tom Smith Guest

    Good old hand drawings :)

    Did you go through the Pinbar Dark Ages?
    Tom Smith, Apr 22, 2004
  14. Ron C

    Maverick91 Guest

    I was disappointed that I could not find a definitive answer in my old textbooks, or even in the Architectural Graphics Standards.

    The practice I was taught was to have the drawing “readable†from either the bottom or the right side of the page. Typically this means to have north pointing up, to the left, or somewhere in between. Just keep the plan clear and easy to read.

    Doug Draper
    Lea+Elliott, Inc.
    Maverick91, Apr 22, 2004
  15. Ron C

    OLD-CADaver Guest

    Did you go through the Pinbar Dark Ages?<<

    Oh yeah.... puke.

    Sleeve garters, split blade inking pens, mixing my own ink, blow dryers, and razor blades for erasers.....
    <breathe deep>
    <count to 3,147>

    Oh how I love CAD...
    happy happy joy joy happy happy joy joy
    OLD-CADaver, Apr 22, 2004
  16. Just another vote for UP and LEFT.

    Terry Scanlon
    Terry Scanlon, Apr 22, 2004
    J Sayle likes this.
  17. I agree with you. Quite frankly I don't see what difference it makes which
    direction the North Arrow points on the sheet. In my 25+ years in this
    field (architectural), I've never worked in an office that required the
    North Arrow to be oriented UP or RIGHT (or LEFT). I've always drawn the
    building with the front wall(s) parallel to the bottom or right side of the
    sheet. It all depends on the shape of the building. The North Arrow is
    then aligned with the north arrow shown on the site plans based on the
    building orientatiuon on the site. We've never had any problems with
    consultants or builders who couldn't marry-up the building plans with the
    site plans.

    I pulled out some of my old architectural drafting textbooks from school,
    and every single floorplan example is drawn with the front of the building
    parallel to the bottom of the sheet with the north arrow pointing to true
    north. And I don't any statements that say the North Arrow must point
    Gary Lafreniere, Apr 22, 2004
  18. Ron C

    Ron C Guest

    Hello again,

    Just wanted to say thanks for all of the input. I wasn't sure if there was a
    "standard or not, but will agree, as long as the drawings are easy to read
    and logical it won't matter that much.


    Ron C
    Ron C, Apr 22, 2004
  19. Ron C

    Allen Jessup Guest

    No offense taken. More or less just FYI. The more we know about the people
    we have to deal with the better.
    Allen Jessup, Apr 22, 2004
  20. Ron C

    Allen Jessup Guest

    Actually a very good answer. In Surveying our North arrows not only point
    north but you're supposed to reference which north. Magnetic, True, Grid
    (which grid datum), or based on some reference document such as a
    subdivision map or deed.

    Shall we talk Scale? 1" = 16.5'

    Allen Jessup, Apr 22, 2004
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