Creating Custom Symbols

You can create custom symbols to use in most annotations, tables, and dimensions in a SOLIDWORKS drawing.

Before you begin, you should back up the original symbol file, gtol.sym, located in drive letter:\lang\english. Browse to the file, make a copy of the file, and save it in a different directory so you can retrieve it if necessary.

Customizing a Symbol

In this example, you create a 3rd angle projection symbol consisting of two circles and six lines in the gtol.sym file.

To customize this symbol:

  1. On the 1 x 1 imaginary square grid, dimension the 3rd angle projection symbol as shown:
  2. To add the code that produces the 3rd angle projection symbol into the gtol.sym file, either insert these lines into a new category or insert them into an existing category:
    *THIRD, Third Angle Projection
    A,CIRCLE .5,.5,.25
    A,CIRCLE .5,.5,.46
    A,LINE 0,.5,2,.5
    A,LINE .5,0,.5,1
    A,LINE 1.1,.25,1.1,.75
    A,LINE 1.1,.25,1.88,.08
    A,LINE 1.1,.75,1.88,.92
    A,LINE 1.88,.08,1.88,.92
    Follow the format exactly and do not add or remove spaces.
  3. Save the file and exit SOLIDWORKS.
  4. Restart the SOLIDWORKS software.
  5. Open a drawing.
  6. Click Note (Annotation toolbar) or Insert > Annotations > Note.
  7. In the PropertyManager, under Text Format, click Add Symbol .
  8. In the popup window, click More Symbols.
  9. In the Symbol dialog box:
    1. Locate the category you used.
    2. Hover over the 3rd angle projection symbol.
    3. Select the symbol and click OK.
    You will see your icon and the description, for example:

    <SCR-THIRD> is the tag that displays when the symbols are inserted dimensions.
    If you share the drawing with others, they will need your gtol.sym file to view your customized symbols.

Understanding the GTOL.SYM File

The gtol.sym file has a section at the top explaining the format and units used for making symbols.

In the file, categories of symbols are grouped together and each category contains multiple libraries and symbols.

Libraries are formatted as: #<Name of library>,<Description of library>.

Symbols are formatted as: *<Name of symbol>,<Description of symbol>.

Lines beginning with “A” define a portion of the geometrical shape of a symbol. Symbols often have more than one of these rows.

BOUND is a control variable for symbols in the gtol.sym file. BOUND controls horizontal spacing of a symbol within a row of text in notes and dimensions.

Semicolons precede commented rows (which are ignored).

Symbols are composed of geometric shapes that can consist of lines, arcs, circles, polylines, and alphanumeric characters. The formats of these shapes are:

Symbols are defined on a 1 x 1 imaginary square grid where 0,0 is the lower-left corner and 1,1 is the upper-right corner. They are not limited to this grid, however. You can also use numbers larger than 1.0 and smaller than 0.0.

Here is an example of a square grid with its coordinates going from 0,0 to 1,1:

An example of how a line is defined on a square grid: