Engineering Paper

Engineering Paper

Looking back at my education, it's interesting to note the types of things I took away from the experience, vs. the things that seemed really important at the time. For instance, it takes a while to really discover that college isn't all about preparing you with knowledge, but preparing you with how to obtain knowledge. We learn how to learn. Conversely, I don't remember every rule of differentiation with trigonometric functions (thank you, Google).

One of the strangest things I took away from my engineering education is an inexplicable love of green graph paper, colloquially referred to as "engineering paper." I didn't realize it until we got some in the supply room at work. I had been trucking my own pads of paper in, and now I get all I could want. Now, I get to draw all kinds of rough diagrams, carry out formulas, do manual bit manipulation, and draw graphs on this awesome paper.

But, like anything these days, I need to transfer some of that into the digital world. I use Inkscape a bunch, and figured it would be great to have a starter document for technical drawings. And, just in case I need to print those things, I decided to lay out a starter document similar to engineering paper, and just ended up drawing a pretty exact layout in SVG.

Click on the picture included with this article, and you can see a PNG rendering of the SVG document. You can also download the SVG document for your own digital drawing purposes.

Some usage notes for Inkscape users:

I used Inkscape layers to group the layout elements into a single layer. When you open the document, you're placed on an empty layer labeled "Drawing." The "BG & Margins" layer is where all the layout elements are organized.

I avoided using any color in any of the grid lines and outlines. This makes it possible to set the tint of the paper in a single layer. To change the tint of the paper, unlock and navigate into the "BG & Margins" -> "Base Color & Page" layer. Assuming the other layers above that are still locked, click on the document, and edit the object's fill property (should be a dark, desaturated green to start). For example, shift the hue to a blue, and you get something resembling architectural graph paper.

The original intent of engineering paper was to make it easy to line up numbers and draw simple graphs that when photo-copied only show your neatly aligned content, and not the grid lines. When you open the document you'll notice that the document grid lines are shown, and I've enabled snapping (to grid) by default. These grid lines won't be displayed when printed or exported. However, there is a cosmetic grid in "BG & Margins" -> "Body Grid" that will be displayed when printed or exported. If want to turn this off for those uses, just hide the layer, and you'll get a traditional copy of your work. If you're using a decent laser printer, you might also like to disable the background color (to keep it from printing a light grey background).

Finally, assuming your printer is cable of printing to the edge of the paper, you can print this at 100% size. Everything will line up with standard loose-leaf notebook paper, and the circles designating the binder holes should line up pretty good with a standard hole punch.

If you find this helpful, or would like to offer some feedback, feel free to comment.