News & Press: News Releases

U.S. National CAD Standard Version 3.1 Now Available

Sunday, January 30, 2005  
Share |

Contact: Joy Davis, CSI
(800) 689-2900

Contact: Bob Miller, NIBS
(202) 289-7800

WASHINGTON, DC—Three leading construction industry organizations jointly announced today the release of Version 3.1 of the U.S. National CAD Standard (NCS), which streamlines delivery of commercial and institutional building projects by standardizing the organization and presentation of computer-aided (CAD) drawings and other design data.

The NCS is published jointly by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Revised significantly by industry experts, one of the new version's enhancements is that its structure has been aligned with the 2004 edition of MasterFormat™, the predominant organizational standard for commercial construction projects' specifications and other written data.

A voluntary standard reflecting industry-wide input, the NCS enables architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, and building owners to eliminate the time-consuming and unproductive task of developing and maintaining proprietary formats for organizing their building data.

The NCS defines standards for many aspects of commercial structures' design data. They include: CAD layers; organization of drawing sets, sheets, and schedules; drafting conventions; terms and abbreviations; graphical symbols; notations; code conventions; and plotting.

How the NCS Advances Project Delivery

"Delivering a facility involves different groups that may never have worked together before, and for today's projects they must develop and share more information faster. A common language aids communication among everyone involved, and that helps increasingly complex projects go more smoothly. For organizing and exchanging CAD drawings, the common language is The National CAD Standard as MasterFormat is for specifications. And because NCS Version 3.1 synchronizes with MasterFormat 2004 Edition, project teams can manage more efficiently than ever the unprecedented volume and complexity of project information, both visual and written," said CSI Executive Director Karl Borgstrom, Ph.D.

In addition to reflecting the new MasterFormat 2004 Edition's structure, NCS Version 3.1 also incorporates all previous versions' changes and updates.

NCS Version 3.1, which also can be used for manually-prepared drawings, comes as a hardcopy binder with a searchable and printable CD. To promote industry accessibility, the new version's price has been deeply discounted compared to previous editions. Cost is $250 for members of CSI, AIA or NIBS (a $150 reduction) and $350 for others (a $190 decrease).

Components of NCS Version 3.1

  • CAD Layer Guidelines, published by the American Institute of Architects. The guidelines establish a uniform method for naming and organizing CAD layers in clear, hierarchal terms.
  • Plotting Guidelines and Attributes of the United States Coast Guard, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Defense CAD/GIS Technology Center. It provides guidelines for lineweights.
  • The Uniform Drawing System, developed by CSI. Its eight modules are:
    • Drawing Set Organization (Module 01): establishes set content and order, sheet identification, and file naming for a set of construction drawings.
    • Sheet Organization (Module 02): provides formats for sheets. Includes drawing, title block, and production reference areas and their content. Also includes a coordinate-based location system and preferred sheet sizes.
    • Schedules (Module 03): sets consistency in format, terminology, and content. Additional guidelines include how to "build" a project-specific schedule and an organizational system for identifying and filing schedules.
    • Drafting Conventions (Module 04): addresses standard conventions used in drawings: drawing orientation, layout, symbols, material indications, line types, dimensions, drawing scale, diagrams, notation, and cross-referencing.
    • Terms & Abbreviations (Module 5): contains standard terms and abbreviations used in construction documents and specifications. It provides consistent spelling and terminology, standardizes abbreviations, and notes common usage.
    • Symbols (Module 6): addresses commonly used standard symbols, classifications, graphic representation, and organization in creating, understanding and fulfilling construction documents' intent.
    • Notations (Module 7): provides guidelines for notation classification, format, components, and location. Also use of notes, terminology, and linking to specifications.
    • Code Conventions (Module 8): identifies types of general regulatory information that should be on drawings, locates code-related information in a set of drawings, and provides standard graphic conventions. Can be a tool to expedite code review by designers and plan review authorities.

The NCS is Gaining Wide Acceptance

See a list of adopters.

About the AIA

Since 1857, the AIA has represented the professional interests of America's architects. As AIA members, over 74,000 licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners express their commitment to excellence in design and livability in our nation's buildings and communities. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct that assures the client, the public, and colleagues of an AIA-member architect's dedication to the highest standards in professional practice. For more information visit, or call 800-AIA-3837.

About CSI

CSI is a national association of specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, building materials suppliers and others involved in commercial and institutional building design and construction. The organization has 145 chapters and more than 16,000 members. CSI provides technical information and products, continuing education, professional conferences, and product shows to enhance communication among all disciplines of building design and construction, and to meet the industry's need for a common system of organizing and presenting construction information. For more information, visit, or call 800-689-2900.

About NIBS

NIBS is a non-profit, non-governmental organization bringing together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to focus on the identification and resolution of problems and potential problems that hamper the construction of safe, affordable structures for housing, commerce and industry throughout the United States. NIBS provides an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sector of the economy with respect to the use of building science and technology. For more information, visit, or call 202-289-7800.

Innovative Solutions for the Built Environment

Established by the United States Congress, the Instituteā€™s mission is to unite the entire building community in advancing building science and technology.

Address 1090 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005-4950

© 2020 National Institute of Building Sciences. All rights reserved.

Contact Us:
Phone: (202) 289-7800
Fax: (202) 289-1092

Follow us on: