The Store Referenced Surface in Drawing Command Setting

April 13, 2021 James Branagan

In the 2017 version Autodesk’s Civil 3D they introduced a new feature which stores the geometry of a referenced surface in a drawing when using data references.

The setting is accessed by selecting the Settings tab of the Toolspace, expanding surface and commands. Scroll down until CreateReferenceSurface is found, right click and select Edit Command Settings.


This opens the Edit Command Setting dialog box. Expand Surface Creation and the Store Referenced Surface in Drawing settings are located there.


There are two options for setting the Store Referenced Surface in Drawing; from the Autodesk Knowledge Network

  • Yes: Saves the geometry of reference surfaces in the drawing. The drawing will become larger, but will open more quickly unless the source surface has changed. The referenced surfaces will be visible even if the source drawings are not available.
  • No: Does not save the geometry of reference surfaces in the drawing. When set to No, the reference is checked every time the drawing is opened. The drawing will be smaller, but will open more slowly.

Choosing Yes will save the surface in the drawing. The benefits of this are that if the source drawing is moved the surface will still be visible because the surface has been saved in the drawing.  It is supposed to open more quickly as well but there are numerous reports of this not being the case. The downside is that the drawing will contain the weight of the surface. For example, if I have a source drawing with a surface with a size of 200MB, when I reference that surface in to another drawing the new drawing will become 200MB larger. For small surfaces this may be ok, for large surfaces you are losing all the advantage of using data shortcuts to manage file sizes. 

Choosing No will keep the surface file and all its extra size as a reference, allowing you to use the file as needed without the extra weight in the drawing. The only downside is if the source file gets moved or deleted or the data reference file gets deleted. In those cases it may be necessary to recreate the reference or fix the link

About the Author

James Branagan

Civil Solutions Applications Expert<br><br>As a software applications expert I provides knowledgeable and competent support and training, specializing in AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Infraworks, Advance Steel, ReCap, Pix4D and Leica's suite of point cloud tools including Register 360 and Cyclone Model.

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