AutoCAD Electrical: Modifying the Source and Destination Symbols

Questions often come up on how to make modifications to the Source and Destination Symbols.  Can you hide the wire number?  Can you change the prefix’s “to” and “from”?  Can you make the source XREF attribute values wrap instead of going out in a straight line?  The answer to all these questions are yes.  There are more things you can do to modify the symbol to look the way you want, but these are the most common.

You can always use the attribute tools that come with AutoCAD Electrical to modify the symbol attributes, but this document will be documenting how to modify the source and destination symbol drawing files.  Before you can make any changes to the source or destination symbol you have to identify which symbols you are using.  Open any of your drawings that are using a source and destination symbol and double click on each one to open the enhanced attribute editor.  Look in the upper left corner of the dialog for the block name.  In this example the source symbol block name is HA1S1, and the destination symbol block name is HA1D3.:

These symbols are on horizontal wires.  The properties are using arrow style option 1 which are controlled on the Styles tab of the drawing properties as shown below:

If the style was set to #2 then the symbol block name for the source would be HA2S1.  So the number in the 3rd position of the block name changes to the arrow style selected.  Arroe styles 5-9 are user defined.  Procedures on how to make these custom arrow styles will be identified in a future document.  Now that you have identified the symbol’s block name go to your library location and open it up.  After opening the source block HA1S1.dwg you can see the attributes the block has.  After open the symbol it should look like this:

Using AutoCAD’s Properties dialog you can hide the wire number, change the prefix’s “to” and “from” to whatever your company uses, and make the source XREF attribute values wrap instead of going out in a straight line.  Also, any adjustments you want to make to the geometry could be done here too, but if it is a completely different style than the 4 that ships with AutoCAD Electrical it would be best to make that style #5.  To make the changes mentioned above use open the properties dialog box and select the WIRENO attribute.  Your screen should look something like this:

Now find the Invisible option under the Misc section and change it to Yes.  After saving and using the symbol the WIRENO attribute will be invisible by default.

To change the prefix’s “to” and “from” to whatever your company uses select the XREF attribute and locate the Prompt option under the Text section.  In this example the prompt was changed from “to”, shown in the left image, to “To Destination” as shown in the right image.

While still looking at the XREF attribute properties you can make the source XREF attribute prompt value wrap instead of going out in a straight line.  Under the Misc section locate the Multiple lines option and change it from “No” to “Yes”.

Now you need to adjust the width so the prompt XREF value displays on the same line.  To do this locate the Value option and click the icon in the data field to adjust the Boundary Width option under the Text section.  In this case a value of approximately 1.100 was used to display “To Destination” on one lin

e.  Use the arrow to adjust the width as shown in the image to the right.

Close the Properties dialog, save and close the symbol drawing.

Now open a drawing and test your modified symbol to see how it looks.  Here is how this example looks once the symbol was placed on the drawing:

If you have too many destination references and you want to break them up on multiple lines use the Change Cross-Reference to Multiple Line Text tool.

After using this tool your symbol now looks like this:

By making a few modifications to the symbol you were able to make the drawing look better.  You could have made these changes to a symbol that was placed on the drawing, but making the changes to the library symbol insures all the drawings will be consistent.  Additionally, you can apply these methods to other symbols in your library.

Todd Schmoock has over 20 years experience in the mechanical engineering field. Ten years of this time was spent as a documentation specialist/designer at Honeywell, Inc. where he worked on several government contracts which equired strict drafting and design documentation in accordance with government standards. Additional experience comes from working in the technical ceramic, elevator, and specialty gas industry designing equipment for each of these fields. Todd joined Synergis in 2003 as a Design Solutions Engineer where he began providing assistance to customers through training and consulting, helpdesk support, as well as providing pre-sales support.
Todd will be presenting at AU 2012 in November.  See his session information here.


  • Great post!! It really provided a thorough explanation of all the important parts without any jibberish! I feel a lot more comfortable with source and destination arrows!


    • thanks Tisha – if you have any specific topics you would like to see, let us know.


      • This isn’t related to how the arrow styles look but I’m looking for information on source codes in general. Should there only be one source code per pair of source/destination arrows. For example, if I have three sheets where the power rails of the ladders just continue from one sheet to another, does the source arrow from sheet 1 to the destination arrow on sheet 2 need to have a separate source code than the source arrow on sheet 2 to the destination arrow on sheet 3?


  • how can you make the description from a source arrow follow onto the description of the destination arrow


  • What if you wanted to display the section of destination at the source arrow and vice versa?


    • I would recommend using the paper space option. This would allow you to create viewports for the entire drawing, and add an additional view to display both source/destination arrows on the drawing at the same location as a reference.


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