Altium Designer Documentation

Working with a Text Frame Object on a Schematic Sheet in Altium Designer

Created: July 27, 2015 | Updated: November 7, 2017
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Parent page: Schematic Objects

A placed Text Frame.


A text frame is a non-electrical drawing primitive. It is used to define an area on a schematic to contain textual information. The frame is a resizable rectangular area that can contain multiple lines of text and can automatically wrap and clip text to keep it within the bounds of the frame.


Text frames are available for placement in both Schematic and Schematic Library Editors, by:

  • Choosing Place » Text Frame from the main menus.
  • Clicking the  button on the Utility Tools drop-down () of the Utilities toolbar.


After launching the command, the cursor will change to a cross-hair and you will enter text frame placement mode. Placement is made by performing the following sequence of actions:

  1. Position the cursor and click or press Enter to anchor the first corner of the text frame.
  2. Move the cursor to adjust the size of the text frame and click or press Enter to complete placement.
  3. Continue placing further text frames, or right-click or press Esc to exit placement mode.

Additional actions that can be performed during placement – while the text frame is still floating on the cursor, and before its first corner is anchored – are:

  • Press the Tab key to access an associated properties dialog, from where properties for the text frame can be changed on-the-fly.
  • Press the Alt key to constrain the direction of movement to the horizontal or vertical axis, depending on the initial direction of movement.
  • Press the Spacebar to rotate the text frame anti-clockwise or Shift+Spacebar for clockwise rotation. Rotation is in steps of 90°.
  • Press the X or Y keys to mirror the text frame along the X-axis or Y-axis respectively.

While attributes can be modified during placement (Tab to bring up associated properties dialog), bear in mind that these will become the default settings for further placement unless the Permanent option on the Schematic – Default Primitives page of the Preferences dialog is enabled. When this option is enabled, changes made will affect only the object being placed and subsequent objects placed during the same placement session.

Graphical Editing

This method of editing allows you to select a placed text frame object directly in the workspace and change its size, shape or location, graphically.

When a text frame object is selected, the following editing handles are available:

A selected Text Frame.

  • Click and drag A to resize the text frame in the vertical and horizontal directions simultaneously.
  • Click and drag B to resize the text frame in the vertical and horizontal directions separately.
  • Click anywhere on the text frame – away from editing handles – and drag to reposition it. While dragging, the text frame can be rotated (Spacebar/Shift+Spacebar) or mirrored (X or Y keys to mirror along the X-axis or Y-axis respectively).

The textual content of a text frame can be edited in-place by:

  1. Single-clicking the text frame to select it.
  2. Single-clicking again (or pressing the Enter key) to enter the in-place editing mode. Sufficient time between each click should be given to ensure the software does not interpret the two single-clicks as one double-click (which would open the text frame's properties dialog).
  3. To finish editing in-place text, either click away from the text frame or press the green tick button (). If you decide the change made is not needed, press the red cross button () to discard the change.
This feature is only available provided the Enable In-Place Editing option is enabled on the Schematic - General page of the Preferences dialog.

The available right-click menu provides standard editing commands such as Cut, Copy, Paste and Delete. In addition, if the Word Wrap option is disabled in the Text Frame dialog, a horizontal scroll bar will also be available when editing the text in-situ.

Example in-place editing, with word wrapping enabled (top)
and disabled (bottom).

If attempting to graphically modify an object that has its Locked property enabled, a dialog will appear asking for confirmation to proceed with the edit. If the Protect Locked Objects option is enabled on the Schematic – Graphical Editing page of the Preferences dialog, and the Locked option for that design object is enabled as well, then that object cannot be selected or graphically edited. Double click on the locked object directly and disable the Locked property or disable the Protect Locked Objects option, to graphically edit the object.

Non-Graphical Editing

The following methods of non-graphical editing are available:

Via an Associated Properties Dialog

Dialog page: Text Frame

This method of editing uses the Text Frame dialog to modify the properties of a text frame object.

The Text Frame dialog.

The Text Frame dialog can be accessed prior to entering placement mode, from the Schematic – Default Primitives page of the Preferences dialog. This allows the default properties for the text frame object to be changed, which will be applied when placing subsequent text frames.

During placement, the dialog can be accessed by pressing the Tab key.

After placement, the dialog can be accessed in one of the following ways:

  • Double-clicking on the placed text frame object.
  • Placing the cursor over the text frame object, right-clicking and choosing Properties from the context menu.
  • Using the Edit » Change command and clicking once over the placed text frame object.

Clicking the Change button associated to the Text field will give access to the TextFrame Text dialog, from where you can enter the text for the frame as required.

Entering text using the associated TextFrame Text dialog.

Wrapping and Clipping Text

In addition to providing a Word Wrap option, the main Text Frame dialog provides a Clip to Area option. This option comes into play if word wrapping is disabled. With this option enabled, text will be kept within the bounds of the frame. When disabled, text will spill out of the frame onto the schematic sheet.

Example of word wrapping and the effect of clipping.

Specifying Text Margins

Specify a single value to apply equally to Left, Top, Right and Bottom margins for the current frame, using the Text margin property in the Text Frame dialog.

To benefit from the text margin functionality within the area of the frame, ensure that the Clip to Area option is enabled. Ideally, the Word Wrap option should also be enabled.
Negative margins are possible also, use the minus prefix (-).

Example text frame with a Text margin setting of 20 (Default DXP Units, equivalent to 200mil).

When editing text in-situ, directly within the text frame (as opposed to using the TextFrame Text dialog), the defined margins are not present. They will be reapplied after editing is complete and the text changes applied.

Margins are not shown while graphically modifying the text in-situ.

Via an Inspector Panel

Panel pages: SCH Inspector, SCHLIB Inspector, SCH Filter, SCHLIB Filter

An Inspector panel enables the designer to interrogate and edit the properties of one or more design objects in the active document. Used in conjunction with appropriate filtering - by using the applicable Filter panel, or the Find Similar Objects dialog - the panel can be used to make changes to multiple objects of the same kind, from one convenient location.

Via a List Panel

Panel pages: SCH List, SCHLIB List, SCH Filter, SCHLIB Filter

List panel allows the designer to display design objects from one or more documents in tabular format, enabling quick inspection and modification of object attributes. Used in conjunction with appropriate filtering - by using the applicable Filter panel, or the Find Similar Objects dialog - it enables the display of just those objects falling under the scope of the active filter – allowing the designer to target and edit multiple design objects with greater accuracy and efficiency.


  1. While text frames can be rotated or mirrored along the X or Y axis, this has no effect on the orientation of the text within.
  2. For simple one line text annotations, consider using the Text String object.


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