Blog

Insights, news and everything else building records.

Architectural Drawing Set Organization: 4 Tips for Success


published on | by

The concept of any structure, building or creation starts with a vision. While developing a physical project, a set of architectural drawings will unfold. The set of drawings must make sense to all those involved, such as the owner of the building to the government body who approves them. The aim of these documents is to show all parts of the project. They are created for the design and construction as well as for permits, regulations and inspections required by laws to begin work.

For architects, a set of drawings must be organized due to the many layers (of people and processes) involved in the project. Standard practices, like the identification method of drawing sheets do exist. Most architects don't deviate from these identification systems, as they categorize drawings so that anyone looking through them can find information quickly and in a familiar way.

Architectural Drawing Set Organization - America's Building Records

Each of the sections in the above list can have subsequent sheets, for example
A7.0 First Floor RCP
A7.1 Second Floor RCP
A7.2 Ceiling Plan Details

However, there are a couple of different schools of thought on how to organize the full set of drawings. Some architectural firms have their own standards and opinions on the order of sheets in a construction document set. For example, whether the structural drawings go before or after the architectural drawings. And some clients ask that architects follow the US National CAD standard, which provides CAD users the methodology to organize drawing sets. So while keeping a standard format can be very useful for the organization and communication of the full set of architectural drawings, there is no requirement to follow.

Many architects organize their sheet index by beginning with the overall ‘big picture’ view and then narrowing down to the finer details. A cover sheets is the first part of most drawing sets, which will include the name of the project, the address, a map, sheet index, the name of the developer and all of the contacts associated with the project. The next sheet may be a general notes sheet to include code requirements, special city ordinances or parking space calculations to meet referenced codes. The first real building plan sheet is likely to be the overall site plan, which shows how the building is positioned on the plot of land. There may be an enlarged set of plans after this to demonstrate details. Each sheet following may have further details on different parts of the building. There can be layers of elements within each sheet, finally resulting in one full set of building drawings.

It can be an overwhelming and time consuming process, so we encourage everyone to plan it out in a step by step way that works for you. To assist, we’ve constructed some guiding principles, which allow for the most efficiency, consistency and clarity when organizing your drawing sets:


Discipline-specific subsets:

Following the cover sheet, sheets should be organized into discipline-specific subsets:

  • Segregate information by discipline (both design and construction) to form subsets of the total drawing package.
  • Order the subsets to correspond to the natural sequence of construction, closely associating disciplines where topics are similar.
  • Collect and present each drawing (plan, elevation, section) on a sheet dedicated to that drawing type (though different drawing types may be combined for small projects).
  • Present information within each subset from general to specific, or broad to detailed.

Less is more:

  • Don't repeat the same information on multiple sheets of paper. This can be confusing and time consuming. However, if details change, you don't want to forget to change them on other sheets and then have conflicting information.


Triple check your tags

  • Always triple check your detail and section tags to ensure you’re directing the contractor to the right spot. Clarity is the most effective way for a smooth project, so be as clear as you can to all parties involved.

Standardize your title block information

  • Make sure that your consultants are all using the correct title block information; this is especially important when you are issuing addendums and revisions.


The development of your construction documents is an extension of the overall design process. Design decisions, once documented, reinforce the design vision and begin to translate it into reality. Of all the project phases, drawing set preparation typically takes the most time and resources. Therefore, the process of producing them strives for efficiency, comprehensiveness, and quality. If you use a good system to keep your drawing set organized, you are setting yourself up for success from the first step.