How Do I Create a Shapefile in AutoCAD?

Creating a Shapefile in AutoCAD is a fundamental skill that every CAD user should possess. With the ability to define and store geometric data, shapefiles are widely used in various industries such as architecture, engineering, and urban planning. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of creating a shapefile in AutoCAD.

Step 1: Launch AutoCAD

Before we begin creating our shapefile, make sure you have AutoCAD installed on your computer. Once installed, launch the software by double-clicking on the desktop icon or searching for it in your applications folder.

Step 2: Set up Your Drawing

Before creating a shapefile, it’s crucial to set up your drawing with the appropriate units and scales. This ensures accurate measurements and seamless integration with other GIS software.

Note: It’s recommended to use a projected coordinate system for your drawing to maintain spatial accuracy.

Follow these steps to set up your drawing:

  • Click on the “Units” button in the “Drawing Utilities” toolbar or type “UNITS” in the command line.
  • Select the desired units (e.g., meters or feet) for your drawing.
  • Set the precision for length and angle measurements based on your project requirements.
  • Click OK to apply the changes.

Step 3: Create Your Shapefile

Now that your drawing is set up correctly, you can start creating your shapefile using AutoCAD’s built-in tools and commands. Here’s how:

Follow these steps to create a shapefile:

  • Draw the desired geometry using AutoCAD’s drawing tools such as lines, arcs, circles, and polygons.
  • Type “MAPEXPORT” in the command line or navigate to the “Map” tab and click on the “Export” button.
  • Select the objects you want to include in your shapefile. You can use a window selection or manually select each object.
  • Specify the output location and name for your shapefile.
  • Select “Shapefile” as the export format.
  • Click OK to export your objects as a shapefile.

Note: AutoCAD will create multiple files with different extensions (.shp, .shx, .dbf, etc.) that collectively form the shapefile.

Step 4: Verify Your Shapefile

To ensure your shapefile was created successfully, you can verify it using AutoCAD or any other GIS software capable of reading shapefiles. Here’s how:

To verify your shapefile in AutoCAD:

  • Type “MAPIMPORT” in the command line or navigate to the “Map” tab and click on the “Import” button.
  • Browse to the location where you saved your shapefile and select it.
  • Select the desired import options and coordinate system for your shapefile.
  • Click OK to import the shapefile back into AutoCAD.

Congratulations! You have successfully created a shapefile in AutoCAD. Now you can use this shapefile in other GIS applications for further analysis and visualization.

Note: Remember to save your drawing along with the shapefile files (.dbf) for future reference and editing purposes.


In this tutorial, we learned how to create a shapefile in AutoCAD. By following the step-by-step instructions and using AutoCAD’s powerful tools, you can efficiently generate shapefiles for your CAD projects. Shapefiles serve as a crucial data format for sharing spatial information with other professionals in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Keep practicing and exploring AutoCAD’s capabilities to enhance your CAD skills and improve your efficiency in creating accurate and detailed drawings.