Nested XREFs and layer states

If you use a system of drawing sheet and drawing model in your practice where both are seperate files and the sheets are like a piece of paper with the drawing information pulled into it then this is something you might have come across already, if not then this might help you in the future if you encounter it.

So generally you will attach one or two external drawings to a sheet file and then adjust layers to suit in the sheet file. However occaisonally you will set up a drawing with an XREF, usually an overlay type of drawing (not to be confused with overlay type of XREF) where you have a base drawing and the layers are adjusted to be simplistic and then further information is drawn over the top, e.g. a fire drawing or drainage drawing.


This is where it gets complicated. There is now a chain of drawings. Drawing A (the base drawing) –> Drawing B (the overlay type of drawing) –> Drawing C (the plot drawing). [Note: the arrows indicate XREF attachements]. This chain of XREFs is called nesting.

The problem comes when you want Drawing C to look the same as drawing B does. When you attach Drawing B to C all the layers on drawing A change to when they were first attached to drawing B, all the changes in drawing B seem to be lost. But when you go back to drawing B it still looks as it should. Confused?

The problem is AutoCAD pulls in XREFs (external references) from their source files and not through the nesting. So any information for drawing A setup in drawing B will not be imported into C as drawing C as the information is directly pulled from drawing A.


In order to circumvent this annoying behaviour layer states export and load should be used. Or you just reset them up if its only a few changes, but if lots of colour changes and layer adjustments have been made then this is the method for you.

This is taken from this page: (Copyright AutoDesk).

To export layer settings

  1. At the command prompt, enter LAYER.
  2. In the Layer Properties Manager, click Layer States Manager.
  3. In the Layer States Manager, create a new layer state or select an existing one. Click Export.
  4. In the Export Layer State dialog box, enter a file name and specify a location for the file.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Click OK to close each dialog box.

To restore layer settings

  1. At the command prompt, enter Layer on the command line.
  2. In the Layer Properties Manager, click Layer States Manager.
  3. In the Layer States Manager, select a named layer state.
  4. Select the settings that you want to restore.
  5. Click Restore.
  6. Click OK

Now you should have the correct layer information in drawing C!