Attributes – Creating & Extracting

An ATTRIBUTE is information that is attached to a block. This information is extractable (can be taken out of the block) and is useful for compiling such things as a Bill of Materials or area totals…

Creating Attributes
command: ATTDEF  or ATT
on the ribbon: Insert tab/ribbon > Attributes panel  >

Attributes are comprised of 3 elements: 1)TAG, 2)PROMPT, 3)DEFAULT.

TAG – Name of the attribute, usually a description. Ex. “COST” or “SIZE”
* No spaces allowed or characters.

PROMPT – Usually a question that asks the user for inupt.
Ex. “What is the size?”

DEFAULT – Either enter the known value so that the user does not need to fill this out OR enter the desired format so that there is consistency in the user’s response. Ex. “0’-0”

* Check the Align checkbox when placing ATTs after the first Att is placed.
REMINDER  –      The Picture below shows that there are 3 ATTs. that are attached to the block. And each ATT. consists of the 3 main elements. This will keep your ATTs lined up nicely.


  • Invisible – when checked, the ATT is hidden
  • Constant – check this if the Default is already set and needs to stay the same.
  • Verify – Asks the same question (prompt) twice. This is good for double-checking but also annoying.
  • Preset – When checked, will not prompt the user for info
  • Lock Position – unchecked, will allow the ATT to move independently of the block.
    Strongly not suggested.
  • Multiple Lines – Like MTEXT but for Attributes

 ATTDIA  <1> turns on the ATT dialog box
                     <0>  turns off the ATT dialog box

ATTDISP         <NORMAL> default
                              <ON> Visible
                              <OFF> Hides all ATTs in the drawing

When making a block of the ATTs and objects, DO NOT use a window to select everything. This will reverse the order that the ATTs will prompt. Instead, select each ATT individually in the desired order, then use a window to select the objects.


 BATTMAN           Edits the main three (TAG, PROMPT & DEFAULT) and allows changes to be made to the order of prompts.

ATTEDIT               Edits the “DEFAULT” prompt

GATTE       Global Attribute Editor – can either select an ATT or enter the name of the ATT or block.

 Single instance edit———EATTEDIT 
                                                  *Also activates when double-clicking the block or ATT

 Single instance edit——— DDATTE

ATTREQ    <0> Turns off prompts when inserting a block with ATTs – good for quick
<1> Turns on prompts

Select a particular ATT by holding CTRL then double-clicking the ATT

ATTSYNC Synchronize ATTs from outside of BATTMAN

ATTOUT    Quick data extraction of selected blocks to a text (.txt) file


Now that you spent all of that time creating data and attaching it to a block, you can now extract this data and create a total of items for costs or a bill of materials…

To extract data:
on the ribbon: Insert tab/ribbon > Linking & Extracting panel > (button)


Data Extraction allows you to do a number of things with the data that you pull out of the drawing. The most common uses are 1) creating a table that is placed within the drawing.
2) creating an excel spreadsheet with the extracted data.

 When you start Data Extraction: (follow the 8 steps)

1)      Check the “Create New data extraction” for a new extraction. The option below it (Use previous…) is for when you have already weeded through what information you want to extract, and placed a table…. You can use those settings for this data extraction.
– Name the data extraction – this will create a .dxe file (normal)  ex. “Lights”

2)      DEFINE DATA SOURCE – Select what drawings to extract data from OR Select individual objects from a single drawing.

3)      SELECT OBJECTS – Check or uncheck objects to extract their data. Since we created ATTs, lets uncheck everything in the “Object” column except for the “Attribute Definition.” * An easy way to uncheck all is to right click and select “uncheck all” then check the items that you do want checked.
In the lower “Display Options” portion – uncheck the “Display all objects” box and then make sure that “Display blocks only” is selected. This way we don’t see every item in the drawing. We can now select the blocks in the drawing.

4)      SELECT PROPERTIES – on the right side portion (category filter), right click and select “uncheck all” and then check the “Attribute” filter. Now in the left (main) box (properties), you can weed out what Attributes you do want or don’t want to extract.

5)      REFINE DATA – This is a preview of how the data will be sorted. You can drag the columns to the order that you want it display.
Advanced – If you have a spread sheet that you want this data extraction info to go into, select the “link external data” button and find the file that you want to link this data to.

6)      CHOOSE OUTPUT – 1st checkbox = placing a table of the extracted data into the drawing.
2nd checkbox = creating a NEW Text (.txt) file or Excel (.xls) file from the extracted data.
Both boxes can be checked at the same time. For the 2nd checkbox, give the new file a name, file format (.txt or .xls) and specify a folder where the new file will be placed.

7)      TABLE STYLE – If you already have a table style setup, you can select this as a template for the new table that you are creating. Otherwise, enter a name for the Title of your table.

8)      FINISH – simply click finish to place the table in the drawing and/or create the new file. At this point you can also hit the BACK button to make any changes before placing the table.

After placing the table within the drawing, if you insert more blocks or delete blocks that are listed in the table, simply select the table, then right click and select “Update table data links” and the table in the drawing will be updated with the new total.

After you have placed a block, there are times that you may need to EXPLODE the block. If the attributes to your block are visible, what you see is the “default” value or the value that the user has provided. But when you explode a block with attributes, you no longer see the default value. What happens is that the attribute reverts back to its “tag” information. But don’t worry. Use the command BURST  instead of EXPLODE and what is now visible is the “default” value – the useful info…


In the picture above, these are copies of the same block. They have both been exploded. The block on the left has been exploded using EXPLODE or X and the block on the right has been exploded using BURST  and has kept its values visible.


About AutoCAD Tips

This blog serves as a knowledge base for myself (and anyone else) so that I can reference tips & tricks that I have learned and also refer others to it as well. I hope that this blog helps you learn at least one tip to make your drafting/design experience better.
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3 Responses to Attributes – Creating & Extracting

  1. IDG says:

    Thanx for al the info on your site.

    I got a question about the data extraction.
    I have made a block with information like art.number, drawing number, description.
    When I check “constant” in the attribute defenition, it wont show in my excel sheet.
    Am I doing somethin wrong?
    I use “export attributes to do this.

    Greetings Irving.

    • AutoCAD Tips says:

      I don’t know of the button called “export attributes.” Try the command DATAEXTRACTION and see if this is different from what you have been doing. I did a test with “constant” checked and it worked fine for me. If you want, I can take a look at the file and try it myself. My email is

  2. Jeff Smith says:

    I just upgraded to ACAD 2012 from ACAD 2011. The Data extraction worked well in 2011 but not in 2012. I am trying to extract data from title blocks in multiple drawings and then manipulate the data.

    In 2011 I selected multiple file and the atributes I wanted and got a table with all the data from each drawing. In 2012 I tried the same thing only now I get the data from the opened drawing and repeated for all the drawings. I am at a loss as to what is going on?


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