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The US National CAD Standard: What it Is and Why it Matters

A lot of companies are using the US National CAD Standards in their new drawings. In this short guide, we’ll explain what it is, how it works, and why it matters.

What Is the US National CAD Standard?

The National CAD Standard (NCS) is a series of guidelines that aim to unify and streamline CAD drawings across the country. In other words, it’s a series of suggestions that can help drafters in California make similar drawings to a team in Florida.

The purpose of the NCS is to help everyone create drawings that are legible across the country. It’s completely voluntary and there are no penalties for ignoring NCS suggestions — it’s just a tool to help you expedite your drawing process.

What the NCS Helps With

To opt in, you’ll have to pay the NCS a subscription fee in order to access all of their online documents. Their documents have information about layers, naming convention, BIM setup, tips for plotting, and definitions of terms and abbreviations.

We’ve worked on a lot of projects using NCS guidelines, and it was surprising how much information you get through the subscription.

Ensure Your CAD Outsource Team Uses NCS

If you’re outsourcing your CAD project and you typically use NCS best practices in-house, you need to talk to the outsourced team before they get started. Any high-quality CAD service will have experience working in NCS, so they should be able to accommodate you — however, most CAD service companies don’t automatically use NCS on all of their work.

If you don’t tell them that you want your drawings a certain way, you will likely receive work that doesn’t match your library of drawings.

Why the US National CAD Standard Matters

As a whole, the NCS is there to make your life easier as a designer, engineer, or draftsman. They have shortcuts and definitions that can speed up your drawing process.

They have expert advice for labeling, naming, and saving your parts.

If you draw per NCS suggestions, you can understand any drawing across the country that also uses NCS. It makes it easier to share drawings with peers and collaborate without formatting errors.

Following NCS guidelines also ensures all of your drawings look cohesive, with shared formatting and labeling across your library.


Before starting your next project, you should do some more digging into the US National CAD Standard. It could save you time and money. Another way to save time and money on your next CAD project is to outsource it to CAD/CAM Services.

We’ve made thousands of drawings in accordance with NCS guidelines, and we can do the same for your project. Get a free quote today.

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