Tips & Tricks

Creating layered PDF documents

February 25, 2004


Layers are an integral part of technical drawings. With Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Professional, you can preserve the layers in the Adobe PDF documents you create from Microsoft Visio or Autodesk AutoCAD drawings. You choose which layers you want to include, and then, in Acrobat, show or hide individual layers, merge them, add bookmarks, or even add actions to the layers to customize the PDF document.

1. Convert the layered drawing to Adobe PDF

In AutoCAD or Visio, click the Convert to Adobe PDF button on the toolbar. The Convert to Adobe PDF button is automatically added to the AutoCAD or Visio application if the application is present on your system when you install Acrobat 6.0 Professional. If you're converting a Visio document, select whether to flatten the VSD layers, retain all layers, or retain some layers in the document.

By default, Acrobat converts only the current page of a Visio drawing to PDF. If you want to convert all the pages in your drawing, choose Adobe PDF > Convert All Pages in Drawing before clicking the Convert to Adobe PDF button. If you convert all pages, you won't see the Convert to Adobe PDF dialog box (discussed in the next step) because Acrobat automatically retains all layers by default.

2. Select the layers you want to convert

In the Convert to Adobe PDF dialog box, select the layers you want to include in the PDF document from the list on the left. Then click the Add Layers button. The selected layers appear in the Layers in PDF list on the right. To rename a layer, select it and type a new name. Select the Always On checkbox next to a layer name if the layer should always be visible in the PDF document; deselect the option to ensure you can change the visibility in Acrobat. (This dialog box does not appear if you've chosen to retain all layers in a Visio document.)

Settings such as whether a layer is visible, printable, or locked are preserved in the PDF layer as a default setting. Additionally, if a Visio drawing has a background page or headers and footers, the PDF document automatically includes corresponding layers.

3. Create layer sets

To add the Visio or AutoCAD layers to the PDF document as a set, select the layers you want to include in the set from the Layers in VSD or Layers in Drawing list, and then click Create Layer Set. Then edit the name of the layer set.

You can collapse and expand layers within a layer set by clicking the icon to the left of the layer set name. You can also add layers to an existing set.

This tip is reprinted with permission from

PDF In-Depth Free Product Trials Ubiquitous PDF

Debenu Quick PDF Library

Get products to market faster with this amazing PDF developer SDK. Over 900 functions and an equally...

Download free demo

Five visions of a PDF Day

In the world of PDFs or as we like to say Planet (of) PDF, a year isn't a real PDF year without an intense few days of industry knowledge sharing.

May 15, 2018
Platinum Sponsor

Search Planet PDF
more searching options...
Planet PDF Newsletter
Most Popular Articles
Featured Product

Debenu PDF Aerialist

The ultimate plug-in for Adobe Acrobat. Advanced splitting, merging, stamping, bookmarking, and link control. Take Acrobat to the next level.


Adding a PDF Stamp Comment

OK, so you want to stamp your document. Maybe you need to give reviewers some advice about the document's status or sensitivity. This tip from author Ted Padova demonstrates how to add stamps with the Stamp Tool along with related comments.