KB: Annotate components during placement

Created: August 20, 2022 | Updated: December 9, 2023

How to annotate the schematic symbols during the placement? The only way I found is by placing several components of the same type, one after the other and by configuring a number behind the ref designator in the properties. When I insert a new component the annotation is always a question mark.

Starting in Version: 18.0
Up to Version: Current

Solution Details

This is normal behavior.  For every component that you place, if they are not first defined prior to placing on the schematic, each subsequent component would have the reference designator end with a ?. To define the component reference designator before placing, you would need to: Open the Library / Components panel and then Right-Click the component ► Place. The component should now be locked to your mouse cursor for placing. From here, press the Tab key to enter the Properties menu. You can then change the component designator and place. You'll notice that each subsequent component would have it's designator increment properly based on the component placed prior.

For example, once you define your first resistor and place it as R1, the following resistors will be incremented. This would stop incrementing when a new component from the Library / Component panel is selected for placing.

If you don't want to be bothered with making the numerical assignments as you place components, the Annotate Schematics Quietly command will update all designators based on settings in the annotation dialog. This tool is quite useful for large and complex designs, even small ones, requiring large numbers of components. This can be accessed by going to: Tools ► Annotation ► Annotate Schematics Quietly.

More information here:


The settings for the Annotate Schematics Quietly command is taken from the Schematic Annotation Configuration window, accessed via the the Annotate Schematics command: accessible from the menu by clicking Tools Annotation Annotate Schematics

Annotate Schematics.png

Here's more information:
In addition, please go through these references.

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