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Control the export of WMF images

Padmasiri e-mailed me from Sri Lanka:

“I draw diagrams in AutoCAD and export them as Windows Metafiles(WMF). After that I import them to an MS Word document. Unfortunately they are imported with the background. But I want them without background (only the line work). How do I overcome this problem?”

This is a common task. WMF is a vector format, so it’s ideal for creating images from AutoCAD objects. Here are the steps to create a WMF file:

  1. Choose File (AutoCAD button)>Export> Other Formats.
  2. In the Export Data dialog box, from the File of Type drop-down list, choose etafile (*.wmf).
  3. Specify a file name and location, then click Save.
  4. At the prompt, select the objects that you want to export and press Enter to end selection.

autocad-tips-export-to-wmf-1Now you can insert that image file into another program, such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Note that sometimes the image seems to be rotated, but you can rotate it as desired in the destination program.

By default, you should not get the background. The system variable WMFBKGND controls the background. Set it to Off to make the background transparent. This is the default value, so if you get the background, either it was changed or perhaps the version of AutoCAD is pre-release 2000. I took a screen capture of this cylinder after importing it into Microsoft Word.

Another system variable, WMFFOREGND, works only when WMFBKGND is Off and controls the line color. By default its value is 0, which swaps the foreground and background colors to make the objects darker than the background. If you use a black screen and your object is white, you don’t want the object to export as white, but as black. So AutoCAD would convert the black to white and vice versa.

Even if you only select 1 object when creating the WMF, AutoCAD creates a large file area. You can get rid of this by cropping the image in the destination program. You can also ungroup the WMF file in Word and PowerPoint, letting you format the individual objects. When you do this, it becomes clear that you’re seeing a 2D representation of a 3D object.

Ellen Finkelstein

4 comments to Control the export of WMF images

  • Simon Holland

    Is there anyway to control the scale of the wmf file. When I export to wmf, and then open the wmf in another application (for label printing) I lose the original autocad scaling.

  • Paul Boudreau

    I export wmf files into pagemaker or frammaker just fine. Here is my issue how do change field around wmf file? Example as shown in pagemaker I have E-size sheet as field and B-size dwg in middle of this field as your dwg. How was WMF created? close around dwg. I read your Blog (Control the export of WMF images and turn background off). Is this autocad Lt 2011 issue or other?
    Thank You

  • Chip C

    I am having a problem that when I save an AutoCAD drawing to a WMF it changes the line color in the wmf. For example in autocad I have an outline layer and equipment layer. The line color for each layer is white. When I save it as a wmf and put it in power point it changes the equipment layer to black and leaves the outline white. How do i fix this?

  • Xristos grigoriou

    it is crucial to zoom in as much as possible and then redraw before you export a wmf, also you need to change display resolution at options before you do anything
    acad doesnt know the color of your backround so it will export white as black a trick for that is to change to a gray close to white
    acad produces rubbish with your wmf changing the scale of your export If you open a wmf from acad with adobe illustrator you will see dots in places that shouldnt be, if you delete them or place them in the correct place the scale will be as desired

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