solidworks tipsCan you imagine that just about everything in front of you right now has had a dimension on it at some point. Everything except that apple over there to the left. the Big Guy upstairs has an automated routing programs for that kinda stuff. Everyone probably has some opinion about how to dimension something, but there’s always some best practices to follow, particularly in a parametric design program like SolidWorks. Here’s some tips that might help.

Select an edge instead of a point
When you select an edge you’ll get a dimension right away. This goes for circles as well as lines. If you select an edge of a circle you get a radius, but if you select another edge it will pick up the centerpoint.

Dimension how you want the part to change
If you want a hole to stay one inch off the end of a part, dimension it like that.

Add relations before dimensions
This will keep your sketches cleaner and more parametric in my opinion. Like if you have a bunch of circles that need to be the same size, use an equal relation instead of dimensioning them all.

Display dimensions flat to screen
This one may be a preference, but if you work in some complicated sketches or a particular coordinate system, it may help. In Options, Display/Selection, uncheck the Display dimensions flat to screen. Play with it and see what works best for you.

Make relations and dimensions work together
To center a line, use a midpoint relation to pick up the center of the line and put a dimension on the length of the line.

midpoint relation

Right Click to lock a dimension
If you’re working in a tight location or an angle, get the dimension in the orientation it needs to be then right click.

Link Dimensions between sketches
If you need to make sure a group of dimensions are always the same, select them (ctrl-select) then right click on them and select link values.

Drive them with Equation or Design Tables
If you really want to get fancy, you can drive some of your dimensions with Equations and Design Tables. Equation will let you make a dimension equal something. Design Tables let you make a dimension equal something for each configurations.

So, was this helpful? Do you have some dimensioning tips that help you?


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.