Upgrading an old Civil 3D Template

August 18, 2020 Brian Johnson

Historically, Autodesk has released new versions of Civil 3D each year, usually during the spring. Each new release introduces new features, improved functionality and often increased performance. Some prefer to be early adopters and will install the latest release as soon as it has been tested and approved for production. Others prefer to wait until the first update has been released with the latest bug fixes to minimize disruption to production.

Regardless of your position, implementing a new version of Civil 3D across your organization requires planning. A part of planning to upgrade should always include your Civil 3D template. I have recently been troubleshooting performance related issues only to learn that the current template being used to create new drawings was developed in not only an earlier version but two file formats back. Apparently, this is a common practice for many organizations, and most are concerned about the time and effort it takes to build a template, have already done it at least once and do not want to go through that process again any time soon. So, they just use the one they have and assume there should not be any issues, it’s just another version of the same Civil 3D after all.

Starting new drawings from old templates can indeed be an issue in Civil 3D. New versions introduce new features and improvements that often require a change to the format of the .dwg file which has an impact on drawing settings, styles and the overall integrity of the file. It is recommended to create a new template for each version of Civil 3D in use. However, it is possible to use an existing template to populate a new template with layers, styles etc. and this is the process to get that done.

How to upgrade an existing Civil 3D template to the latest version:

  1. Start with a clean template by opening acad.dwt in the version you want to make the template for and save as a new .dwt file. The acad.dwt file can be found in the default template path in a folder named AutoCAD Template.


  1. Import all AutoCAD based layers, linetypes, text styles, dimension styles, multileader styles, blocks etc. using Design Center. Also, make any necessary adjustments to AutoCAD base settings.


  1. Save the template file.
  2. Import Civil 3D specific styles and settings using the Import Styles command (found on the Manage tab and Styles panel of the ribbon).



Notes: Certain settings will need to be manually copied by drag and drop from the old template to the new such as Description Keys and Pipe Network parts lists. Also, some settings will need to be set manually such as the Object Layers in Drawing Settings. For a complete list see: About Importing Styles and Settings .

  1. Save the template file.

I recommend testing the new template to ensure all settings and styles are configured as necessary. Create a clean drawing from the new template and create AutoCAD and Civil 3D objects just as you would for a project and verify the behavior and standards are as expected.

About the Author

Brian Johnson

Civil Applications Expert<br><br>With extensive experience in both engineering and IT, Brian helps organizations make the most of their design technology. Whether it’s through a custom setup, training, implementation, or creation of organization-specific templates and styles, Brian helps both users and managers understand the best methods and processes to get the most from their chosen solutions.

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