The offset command allows you to quickly create perfectly parallel lines, polylines, and arcs, as well as concentric circles and borders for objects. It’s one of the most useful drawing and editing tools available in AutoCAD, and in this post we’re going to show you how it works.
The following lesson and accompanying video are adapted from Chapter 6 of our new AutoCAD 2015 Tutorial Video series for beginners, by civil engineering expert and longtime trainer Brian Benton. The course includes more than 10 hours of guided walkthroughs and time-saving tips that even intermediate users of the program will be able to appreciate. For more experienced drafters, we’ll be announcing an Advanced AutoCAD 2015 tutorial in the coming weeks.
If you’d like to follow along with the lesson below, you can download the working file here.
Accessing the Offset Command
Since it’s so practical for so many tasks, the Offset command is easy to access. Simply type OFFSET or only the letter O into the command line at the bottom of the screen, and hit Enter.
You can also find it located in the Modify panel in the ribbon at the top of your screen, as shown below.
Creating the Offset
Once you’ve selected the tool, you’ll be asked to enter a value for the offset. This sets the amount of spacing between the line you are duplicating and the new line you plan to place. In our example, we choose a value of 20 units. We’re wanting to create an additional, interior contour line to the pond in our plans.
Once you’ve chosen an offset value, you are free to place your offset line. You can choose either side of your existing line by moving your mouse cursor, and AutoCAD provides you with a live preview of your placement.
Once you’ve got it where you want it, simply left-click. That’s it! For our example, we’ve created an additional contour line for our project pond.
What if you want to create a parallel line or arc, but you’re unsure of the exact distance? Or what if you want to delete an existing line when your offset is placed? If you look to the command line once you’ve chosen the Offset tool, you’ll see there are more options than simply typing in a distance.
In the video below, Brian walks through the steps featured above and some of the additional functionality the command provides.