Inserting List of Points into AutoCAD

Have you ever received a list of coordinates in a CSV file and wanted to place those in AutoCAD? Were you aware this can take as little as 2 minutes?

For a very long time, AutoCAD has supported SCRIPT files. A script file is nothing more than a text file (using only Notepad) that lists the everything that you’d typically type to AutoCAD’s command line.

Take for example the following CSV file. How would we get this into AutoCAD?

Points List in CSV Format Opened in Excel

To figure out what we need to type in AutoCAD, let’s first start by making sure our Point style is something other than a single dot so it’s more easily visible on your screen. To do this, type “PTYPE” at AutoCAD’s command line. If you don’t get the following dialog, Escape out of the command and type “DDPTYPE” and try again. Select a point style that suites you.

Point Style Dialog

Now that you have a point style that’s more visible on the screen, lets type the Point command and see what input it takes.

You can see from the below image of the command line that once we type “POINT” and press ENTER or SPACEBAR, there’s a little text that displays the current point style and size. You’re then prompted for the coordinates. The points in this example were entered by typing X,Y,Z coordinates for one point and X,Y coordinates for the other. After typing the coordinates and pressing ENTER, the command completes.

X,Y or X,Y,Z Formats Can Be Used For Points

To test this theory, we can use Notepad to manually create a Script file. Type the contents you in the below image and name your file with an “SCR” File extension. You’ll want to make sure Notepad’s “Save as type” drop down list is set to “All Files (*.*)” or else Notepad will append a TXT to the end of the file.

One other thing to also note is that the cursor is after the last line, just below it. This is because there’s an “Enter” after the last point…this is just like hitting Enter on the keyboard to complete a command in AutoCAD.

Use Notepad to Create a Script File

After you’ve created your text file, type the “SCRIPT” command at AutoCAD’s command line and select the Script file you just created. When complete, AutoCAD should have added 2 more points to the drawing.

The Script File’s Input Looks The Same As Manually Typing.

So, now you know how the basis for a script file (same as you’d type manually) and how to create one (using Notepad), the next thing you need to do is convert the CSV file in Excel to a Script file. That’s actually quite simple.

You’ll use Excel’s “CONCATENATE” function which takes several pieces of text and puts them together. In this example, this is the formula we’re using…

=CONCATENATE("Point ",B2,",",C2)

The first piece of text is the Point command. Remember, we can use the SPACEBAR after a command and it’s the same as if we’re pressing the ENTER key. That’s why you see the space after the “POINT“. Each piece of typed text is also contained in double quotes. 

=CONCATENATE("Point "

Each piece of text that is concatenated is separated by a comma. After the command, you start typing the X-Coordinate which is the Easting column in the CSV file. Because we’re not explicitly typing text, we can simply use a cell reference like so…

=CONCATENATE("Point ",B2

When typing coordinates in AutoCAD, we separate them with a comma, so we use another comma for Excel’s Concatenate function, then a comma explicitly typed in double quotes.

=CONCATENATE("Point ",B2,","

Finally, we add the Y-Coordinate which is in the Northing column using a cell reference, again, remembering to separate all the pieces of data with a comma and close the Excel function with a closing parenthesis.

=CONCATENATE("Point ",B2,",",C2)

When you’re done, copy the formula to the other cells. You can see in the image, that we have a line of text similar to what we typed in Notepad manually the first time. The below image, I’ve used the F2 key to edit the first cell so you can see the formula and the cell references.

Excel Used to Build a Script File

Now that you’re text in Excel is in a Script File format, you can guess the next step. Copy/Paste the text into Notepad, Save with a TXT extension on the file name.

Make Sure the Cursor is on the Last/Empty Line

The last step is to run the script file in AutoCAD using the Script command. Zoom Extents in AutoCAD to see your points. The CVS file, Excel File and Script files can be downloaded for examination from this link.

Here’s a screen recording of making and running the script file. As you can see, it takes a CSV file, gets converted into a Script file and places the points in AutoCAD in less than 2 minutes.

CSV Points List to AutoCAD Points in Less Than 2 Minutes

Script files are quite easy. You could easily add more text, and use different commands to do the same thing like Insert an attributed block into the drawing and use the point number as the attribute value. You just need to make sure all your system variables are set to prompt you upon insertion for the attribute value.

The only real downside to Script files is they’re not intelligent. They don’t like extra characters or spaces, the don’t work well with commands that prompt for user input or display dialog boxes and they don’t perform conditional logic to do different things depending what they find. They will however call AutoLISP routines so when I have more advanced work I want to do in a script file, I just have the Script call and run my Lisp as well. 

Autodesk Fabrication: Best Practice #1

Don’t use Double Quotes ( ” )….Ever.

An Autodesk Fabrication Configuration contains a lot of information. One of the best tools for managing, sorting, filtering and maintaining lots of information is Microsoft Excel. There are some functions in Fabrication that export information into CSV format. Commands like SYSSCRREPORT in CADmep. You may even have some scripts or API code that exports data to a CSV.

When Double Quotes are used, this can and does often confuse Excel into thinking that it’s a separator between multiple pieces of Text and it can shift the data in some rows to different columns.

If you use feet-inch format/units and like the look of double quotes for inch marks, an easy workaround is to use 2 single quotes ( ” ) as opposed to a single double quote ( ” ). When using 2 Single Quotes, it’s hardly noticeable even when looking for it like in this text. Try selecting the text sand you’ll see they are indeed different.

While this rule should be adhered to anywhere in the fabrication database, there’s 4 primary areas where it’s most likely to cause you grief.


Database Entries – Materials, Specification, Connectors, Seams, Airturns, Ancillaries, etc.


Folder and ITM Names – While a perfectly valid character in Windows for files and folders, it’s not a good idea when using Autodesk Fabrication.


Product List Names – One of the most common areas to see the inch mark.


Product Information Editor – Another common location where you’re tempted to add double quotes. It’s common for people to maintain this data in Excel in the first place so it’ll be really easy to do a global search and replace to fix it.


In future posts, I’ll share some processes and scripts that can be affected by using Double Quotes. Until then, just trust that it’s a bad idea.