Altium Designer Documentation

Designator

Created: July 28, 2015 | Updated: June 16, 2017

The Designator dialog.

Summary

This dialog allows you to specify the properties of a component's Designator string, independently of the component itself.

The properties of a component's designator string can be modified directly as part of the overall properties for that component, in the Component dialog. The properties listed in the Designator region of that dialog are identical to those in the independent Designator dialog.

Access

Provided the target component designator string is visible in the workspace, the Designator dialog can be accessed in one of the following ways:

  • Double-clicking on the designator string.
  • Placing the cursor over the designator string, right-clicking and choosing Properties from the context menu.
  • Using the Edit » Change command and clicking once over the designator string.
If the component's designator string is not currently visible in the workspace, you can toggle its associated Hide property either in the Component dialog (accessed for its parent component), or through the PCB Inspector panel (with that component selected), or through the PCB List panel.

Options/Controls

  • Width - the current text stroke width (the "thickness" of the lines used to produce the lettering).
  • Height - the current height of the text characters. The character width used to display or print the text is automatically proportioned to this height. A minimum height of 36mil (0.9mm) will allow the string to be legibly photoplotted.
  • Rotation - the angle of alignment of the designator string, measured anti-clockwise in degrees from the horizontal.
  • Location X/Y - the current X (horizontal) and Y (vertical) coordinates for the bottom-left handle of the designator string (the point by which it is held by the cursor when moving). Edit these values to change the position of the designator string in the horizontal and/or vertical planes respectively.
Quickly change the units of measurement currently used in the dialog between metric (mm) and imperial (mil) using the Ctrl+Q shortcut. This affects the dialog only and does not change the actual measurement unit employed for the board, as determined by the Measurement Unit setting in the Board Options dialog (Design » Board Options).

Properties

  • Text - use this field to directly enter the required text for the designator.
  • Hide - enable this option to have the designator string hidden from the workspace.
To display a hidden designator string again, you can toggle its associated Hide property either in the Component dialog (accessed for its parent component), or through the PCB Inspector panel (with that component selected), or through the PCB List panel.
  • Layer - the layer the designator string is currently assigned to. Designator strings can be assigned to any available layer, click on the list to view and select a different layer, from all those currently defined for the board.
  • Mirror - enable this option to flip the designator string across an axis that depends on the string's current Rotation and Location X/Y.
  • Autoposition - the current positional style for the designator text, in relation to its parent component. Choose a style other than Manual to have the text remain in that chosen position as the component is moved and rotated. To freely position the designator text and have it follow the parent component's movement/orientation, choose the Manual style. The following positional styles are available:
    • Manual
    • Left-Above
    • Left-Center
    • Left-Below
    • Center-Above
    • Center
    • Center-Below
    • Right-Above
    • Right-Center
    • Right-Below
  • Font - use this field to choose the type of font used for the designator's text, either Stroke or TrueType. The dialog will present options based on the chosen type.

Select Stroke Font

This area of the dialog and its asscociated option are presented only when the Stroke option is chosen for the designator text's Font.

  • Font Name - use this field to choose the required Stroke font. Available options are Default, Serif, and Sans Serif. The Default style is a simple vector font which supports pen plotting and vector photoplotting. The Sans Serif and Serif fonts are more complex and will slow down vector output generation, such as Gerber.
Stroke-based fonts are built into the software and cannot be changed. All three fonts have the full IBM extended ASCII character set that supports English and other European languages.

Select TrueType Font

This area of the dialog and its asscociated options are presented only when the Truetype option is chosen for the designator text's Font.

  • Font Name - use this field to choose the required TrueType font. The drop-down list is populated with TrueType and OpenType (a superset of TrueType) fonts found in the \Windows\Fonts folder. Note, the list will only include entries for detected (and uniquely named) root fonts. For example, Arial and Arial Black will be listed but Arial Bold, Arial Bold Italic, etc will not. Use the Bold and Italic options to add emphasis to the text.
  • Bold - enable this option to make the designator text bold.
  • Italic - enable this option to make the designator text italic.
  • Inverted - enable this option to display the text as inverted, within a layer-colored bounding rectangle.
    • Inverted Border - use this field to specify the border around the text. The bigger the border, the larger the resulting bounding rectangle.
The use of TrueType fonts in PCB documents will result in more complex Gerber outputs.
To ensure all fonts used in your design are available wherever the design is loaded, enable the Embed TrueType fonts inside PCB documents option, on the PCB Editor - TrueType Fonts page of the Preferences dialog. A substitution TrueType font can also be nominated, for files using TrueType fonts that are not installed locally.

Tips

  1. If the parent component has its Lock Strings property enabled, the designator text string cannot be selected or graphically edited. In addition, the Designator dialog will not be accessible.

 

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