The American Institute of Architects, AIA, sets standards for computer-aided design — or CAD — documents. Most building projects require drawings that meet AIA standards. AIA layering standards assign specific layer names, content descriptions, colors, line types, and line weights, which make it easier to read and reference architectural drawings.

The American Institute of Architects provides over 300 label names for the sections, details, legends, and text, and other layers found in CAD drawings. Label names are made up of an initial and an abbreviation of the layers function or content.

AIA Label Names


Architectural drawings begin with the initial A, civil drawings with a C, electrical with an E, and so on. Abbreviations are usually self-explanatory. For instance, the layer of a CAD document that contains the doors is listed as A-DOOR Doors. It would be on the 2-yellow layer with the continuous line weight of a number 7 pen.


Each layer in a CAD document must be colored according to the AIA’s standards. For instance, all layers of architectural annotations and dimensions are cyan, while layers referring to electrical safety are red. The example above for doors is on the yellow layer.

Line Weight

The line weight of a layer is also set by AIA standards. For example, as a general rule boundary lines, legends, dimensions, and notations use a number 4 pen, while construction lines, walls, and border and title block use a number 7 pen. Layers dealing with sewers and drainage pipework and manholes, on the other hand, use a number 11 pen line weight.


The AIA CAD Layer Guidelines have been incorporated as part of the National CAD Standard. The diagram below shows AIA standards for layer colors and pen weights. AIA CAD Layer Guidelines

CAD / CAM Services uses AIA standards for CAD Conversions and for critical infrastructure projects with utility companies and the Department of Homeland Security

One of the best complete publications we have seen AIA page

For the official US National Layering CAD standards: Click here to see pdf

To purchase this US National CAD standards document:  Click here to purchase

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This article was last Updated on August 25, 2023

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