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Week #8 – ArchiCAD’s Structure: The Navigator, Part 1
8-3. Layers and Layer Combinations

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 8-3)

This 19 minute lesson examines layers and layer combinations. Layers are used in ArchiCAD to organize elements and are the primary means to control their visibility.

A key principle is that you need to have enough layers to be able to show and hide related groups of elements properly for all construction documents as well as all design phases. If two elements need to be shown at different times, such as furniture (which will not be seen on a floor plan for construction documents, but will be seen on a presentation plan) and fixtures or cabinets (which will be seen on both of these plans), then you need them on different layers. On the other hand, if certain elements are always turned on or off together (e.g. lower cabinets and railings), even though they are different types of elements they may be combined onto a single layer.

Similarly, one needs a layer combination for each drawing (e.g. floor plan, reflected ceiling plan, site plan, plus ones for other drawing types such as elevations, sections, etc.) and also for each typical phase of work (design, presentation, and possibly other special ones for creating objects, working on building structure, etc.).

Some layers such as exterior walls are seen on most layer combinations; others are visible on several layer combinations; and some specialized layers may only be seen in a single combination. For example, a single layer may be used to put a variety of element types (electrical components, text annotation, labels, dimensions, linework, etc.) that are only going to be seen on the electrical plan.

Please post your comments and questions below.


Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course

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ArchiCAD Training: Layers and Layer Combinations

Let us know how you feel... (7 comments so far)

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  1. dominic ajwang
    3 years ago

    Hello Eric!
    Thanks for the insightful help on layers.
    How can I migrate my layer combinations from one drawing to another?

    • Eric Bobrow
      3 years ago

      Dominic –

      I’m glad you liked the video.

      You can use Options menu > Element Attributes > Attribute Manager to copy attributes of all types (e.g. layer combinations, layers, materials, etc.) from one PLN file to another.

      You need to be working in the PLN file that you’d like to change (import into), then in Attribute Manager, on the right hand side click the Open… button and locate the PLN file with the layer combination (or other attributes) that you want to access. Navigate in the upper tabs to Layer Combinations, select one or more on the right-hand side, and click the Append or Overwrite button to transfer them.


  2. MarkMoscrip
    3 years ago

    After watching this video, I created layer combinations for solely working on the model vs layer combinations that relate only to the “sheet” drawings. These new “modeling only” layer combinations used with the Quick options palette, allow me to quickly go from working on soffits, to walls, to interiors, while having one click control of all locked/visible/wireframe layers and so on. I spend less time managing individual layers while making model revisions. Thanks for the tip!

  3. LilianSeow
    Lilian Seow
    4 years ago

    How do you add the separator in the layer name? and the extension; I’m not seeing the extension when I created a new layer name. How and what is the extension ?

    • Eric
      4 years ago

      When you refer to a separator, I’m a bit unclear. The “|” character is used as a convention in MasterTemplate, and is found on most keyboards on the far right above the Enter key, as the shift-modified backslash character “”.

      The layer extension is created or edited in the separate little field area at the right of the layer name. Look in the Layer Settings dialog, and highlight any layer in the list, and you’ll see editable fields down below the list – the little text field on the far right is where you can enter the layer extension. When you print out a layer list, this extension is separated from the main layer name with a period “.” so that it appears this way: “A | WALLS EXTERIOR.3D”.

      You don’t need to actually put in the period when you are creating a layer name – it just appears when you print out the layer list if there is an extension for that layer. The period separator is conventionally used in written documents as the separator between the main part of the layer name and the extension (which is optional in any case).

      I hope this explains it – let me know if you need further clarification.


  4. MichioValian
    4 years ago

    Hi Eric,

    For some reason, I’m not able to save part 3 of week 8.


    • Eric
      4 years ago

      Michio –
      I tried it, and it worked for me just fine. You may need to right-click on the download link and choose Save Link As or Save Target As, rather than just clicking the button or link. It’s also possible there was a temporary problem – please try it again.