How can I convert Layout View to a DXF or DWG format?

I have tried the PDF way i.e.

  • Export to PDF
  • Convert from PDF to DWG using PDF2cad

It was not a great experience because the DWG does not seem good and is not georeferenced.

Can anyone offer help or experiences to help solve this issue?

  • I'm curious about why you would want to do this. I've seen people export layouts to .ai to do map touching up in Adobe Illustrator but have not seen people using AutoCAD in same way. Can you describe the use case, please?
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 22:12
  • normally this drawing has been made in Autocad , but for some needs for Gis operations, i have made it on Arcgis, but now i'stuck to get it back to Autocad, and because the final output to the customer should be CAD file.
    – geogeek
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 23:46

4 Answers 4


the two things you are asking for don't go together.
If you want the layout it will ONLY have paper coordinates.
If you want real world coordinates it will never know the orientation of your paper (or layout).
The work around would be to get the data in the dataframe exported (using the export to cad function for each data layer you want in the drawing.
(you can add more than one layer into the tool) or compile them into one drawing.
Then use the pdf 2 cad method to get the layout information exported (without the dataframe) [you might call this a sheet template]. Then insert it into Autocad and scale it up then clip the other data to it.

If I were doing it I would use autocad map 3d to create the template, and pull in the data as shape file but unless you have access to autocad map 3d you would have problems making that work.
The other thing about this is that it does not take advantage of the Autocad sheet layout.


  • this is very good way, but willing to find an automatic way , which i could use in a Python script for eg
    – geogeek
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 23:22
  • 1
    You perhaps should step analog once so you understand where the stones are for automatic way
    – Brad Nesom
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 4:57
  • Hi geogeek i'm stacking with the same problem did you find any solution ?
    – geosevda
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 15:51

There are two paid products that I know of:

  • DXF Page Exporter - cheap but somewhat poorly implemented with crappy results. Converts everything to polygons - texts and lines included! Real world coordinates export is not precise - seems to be a rough approximation - in their words "data precision loss is due to real-world to pixel coordinate conversion". Objects are exploded into many little parts. Overall the DXF when rendered looks good but the drawing has no engineering value.

  • SmartExporter.DXF - costs more but much better in terms of usability of the exported drawing. Overall good symbology mapping with some shortcomings here and there.

To be complete - there is a third company called CEDRA but they are outrageously expensive and I haven't been able to make their exporter work for me. It is not easy to obtain a demo version. The exporter seems to be very limited, requiring to follow certain rules when designing your ArcMap documents, layer coordinates do not register in the exported file, the symbology mapping is very basic, the whole process is very manual, layout elements are not supported, grids and north arrows are not exported unless converted to graphics and a lot of other quirks and problems.

In a nutshell - if you want to look at a pretty picture in AutoCAD - go with DXF Page Exporter. If you want to be able to match exact coordinates, edit the exported file and do any other engineering work with the exported document - go with SmartExporter.DXF. If you want to waste your time and money - go with CEDRA.


Here's another way to solve this issue.(Not good at Eng,but i'll try...)

1. Draw a box in the area that you want to export at the "Data view"

2. With the box selected, click among top instruction taps "selection > select by graphics"

3. Then you can see that every data overlaps with box are selected.

enter image description here

4. With selected data, Export them by each layer to shape file.

5. Finally you have the data only you want to export.

enter image description here

6. All you have to do is erase some unneccesary lines at CAD.


My best way around this issue has been exporting the symbology that does not depend on direction (such as circles) using the classic export to cad seed file; and for symbology like arrows and such, i export the map to an .ai file with a very high resolution, like 1500dpi. then i open it in adobe illustrator, export it as .dxf, open it in cad and use the align command.

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