It seems printing to scale is one of the most difficult procedures for SketchUp users to use. This condition is not helped by the fact that SketchUp has a poor implementation of printing. In fact, I believe the printing implementation in SketchUp is handicapped with software design bugs that have been there since the first release of SketchUp. Hopefully, with Trimble acquiring SketchUp, a more appropriate support budget will be planned and this issue will finally be resolved. In the meantime this article will provide you with some tricks that can be used to overcome these problems.

Swan Neck Template Printed to Scale of 1:1I use printing to scale frequently to create shop templates. One such example is the swan neck that frames the top of a trundle bed headboard shown right. This template is much larger than one 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper, but my printer only prints 8 ½” x 11 paper. What I did was print at a 1:1 scale in SketchUp which required about nine sheets of paper. Most of them were blank, so returned them to the printer tray. The three sheets that contained printed information I taped together connecting the line precisely. Then I backed the paper with self adhesive clear plastic, which can be purchased at any office supply store, and cut the template out with scissors. The clear plastic provided stiffening for the template and edges that will not collapse as you trace the template unto your stock.

The picture below shows the swan neck milled using the template above right. Also shown below is a template used to shape the headboard itself. Owing to symmetry I didn’t need both left and right swan neck templates, and a full headboard template; I only needed one side for the templates because they can be flipped to produce the mirror image.

Swan Neck After Milling Next to Head Board TemplateI also use SketchUp to create shop drawings. Because I print off fully dimensioned drawings for all milled pieces, there is usually no need to print my drawings to a predetermined scale, I just read the dimension off the drawing. However, there are times when a scaled drawing is necessary. For example, when printing standard views of an architectural drawing a standard scale such as ¼” = 1’- 0” is needed. So let’s get into the how to of printing to scale.

Printing to scale in SketchUp is not difficult; you can print at a scale of 1:1 or any other scale you desire by following these five steps.
1.    Select Parallel Projection on the Camera menu. (Camera/Parallel Projection)
2.    Select one of the Standard Views (Camera/Standard Views/…..)
3.    Adjust the window and model size to minimize the amount of white space around the model. This is to compensate for what I consider a software bug, and is the toughest and most critical part of the process.
4.    Set your scale in the Print Preview dialog box and uncheck both “Fit to page” and “Use model extents” . (File/Print Preview)
5.    Choose print.

Steps One and Two are very important. SketchUp does not permit printing to scale using either of the other two Perspective views because it is impossible for perspective views to yield a scaled drawing.

SketchUp Window with Too Much White Space

Step three is required because there is a printing behavior that I consider a software bug when it comes to printing to scale. If you are going to print to any scale, including 1:1, first resize you drawing window so there is a minimum amount of unused drawing area SketchUp Window with Correct Aspect Ratio and White Spaceon all sides of your drawing. Failing to do this will  result in multiple pages being printed when you need only one, or far too many pages when more than one is needed. The trick here is to estimate and fix in your head, the aspect ratio of the model you want to print. Next shape the window area to the same aspect ratio. Then use a zoom tool to center and enlarge the model to use all the window area available. You may have to iterate these last three steps to get the optimum setting. Try to make your window as large as possible while leaving almost no unused white space on either side, top or bottom of the window. The image on the previous page shows a case where there is too much white space on the right and left, but about just enough on the top and bottom. This is because the aspect ratio of the model is approximately 1.7:1 while the window is approximately 1:1.5, nearly the reverse.

The aspect ration of the window has been adjusted in the image at right to get a near optimum fit. Notice how little white exists around the periphery of the model. This model is correctly “cropped”.

We have completed steps 1 – 3 above. Now we have to decide what we want to do next. If this printout is to be used as a template then we need to use a scale of 1:1 scale. However, this model printout is not likely to be used as a template, but likely an elevation view of the hutch; which means it will be printed to scale on one page. The question is what scale?

Print Preview Dialog Box with Correct Settings for This ExampleThe scale can be determined analytically or empirically. Analytically we start with the size of page we are going to use and then subtract the unprintable margin dimension from each edge. For example, if we are printing on 8 ½” x 11” paper with an unprintable margin of ¼” per edge, then the printable area is 8” x 10 ½”. This hutch has overall dimensions of 52” wide by 88” tall. Printing the page in portrait view is the most efficient selection for this case. This means the 88” dimension must fit in the 10 ½” height of the page. Similarly, 52” must fit in the 8” width. Use these two sets of numbers to calculate two scale  factors; 8.3:1 and 6.5:1 respectively. We must use the same scale factor for both dimensions and so we need to use the larger one. However, 8.3:1 is a difficult scale to use so we can go with 9:1 or 10:1. Either will work in this case, but 10:1 is probably more useable in terms of making measurements on the printout and calculating the actual dimension. The image at left shows the setup for this case.

In the Print Preview window above notice that “Fit to page” and “Use model extents” are both unchecked. There are four Scale inputs which the user need to fill in. In the “In the printout” input box I entered 1 and in its dropdown box chose Inches. In the “In SketchUp” input box I entered 10 (I will explain 10.000001 in a moment) and in its drop down box chose Inches. These inputs defines a scale of 1” = 10” or architecturally 1” = 0’-10”.

Print Preview Window with Hutch Printed to Scale of 1:10Here is an important little trick; after entering the four inputs in the scale area, place your cursor in the Page size “Width” and then “Height” input boxes. Don’t attempt to input anything or change what is there, simply place your cursor in each input box. This will cause SketchUp to calculate the page dimensions required to print your model. When this happens the numbers in the Scale input boxes may change slightly; in this case 10 was changed to 10.000001. It might just as well have been changed to 9.999999. This has to do with the precision the software is using to make calculations. Don’t worry about this. The important part is that when you have completed this step look at the “Tiled Sheet Print Range”. If the radio button chosen is All and the “Pages from” input boxes says 1 “to:” 1, then you are assured that you can print your model on one page with a scale of 1” = 10”. Hit OK and you should see a Print Preview shown at right. Choose Print to print the model to scale.

You can empirically determine the scale required to fit the model on one page. After completing step 3 above open the Print Preview dialog box (File/Print Preview). Place 1 in the Scale “In the printout” input and Inches in its dropdown box. These parameters are a guess based on my knowledge of the model. If I were printing an elevation view of a house I might start with ¼ in the input box. Next choose Inches for the “In SketchUp” dropdown box (if the model were a house I would probably choose Feet). Now enter pure guess in the “In SketchUp” input box. Place your cursor in both Page size input boxes to instruct SketchUp to calculate the page size. Then look at the results in the “Tiled Sheet Print Range” area. If it indicates more than one page increase your guess for the “In SketchUp” input and enter your cursor in both Page size input boxes again and check your results. If your first guess resulted in only one page try decreasing it until the number of pages is greater than one. Use this iterative process to choose a scale you are happy with.

Printing to a scale of 1:1 is the same for steps 1 – 3. After that you enter 1 and the same units for both Scale inputs. Then you print all the pages required. Put the blank sheets back in the printer tray and assemble the remaining pages as discussed earlier.

Good luck and I hope this tutorial helps.

Leave a Reply

31 Responses to “Printing To Scale In SketchUp”

  1. kendall says:

    i read all of this and did what you said,i have paper that 11 inches hight and 8.5 inches wide. your standard paper. when i selected a scale of 1:1 it change setting i had put for page size, and vis versa. help me please. my cube is 6 inches. so i know it will fit on the paper. thanks

  2. Joe says:

    Hi Kendall,

    Did you uncheck “Fit to page” and “Use model extents”? Did you shrink down the white space in the SketchUp window so that there was minimal space on either side of your cube. And is your printer margins set to something like 0.5″ or less? If you are still having problems send me your .skp file and I will look at it to see what the problem is. My email address is .


  3. John Parslow says:

    I tried everything (I thought) prior to reading your blog and searched sketchup help could not find how to print model parts. Your blog is thorough and clear and I was then able to figure out how to print on various size papers more easily.

    Thank-you for taking the time to write this , it was very helpful and well writen.

  4. Joe says:


    Thanks for the kind words. Actually it is on my to do list to update it for SketchUp 7. If you have any suggestions please pass them along. Thanks again.


  5. Tom says:

    You are awesome…this is certainly a glitch, window size should not have to be altered to print a scaled drawing. Thank you thank you thank you.

  6. Joe says:


    You are welcome. It is clearly a design flaw and it has been in SketchUp for some time. Don’t know why they haven’t fixed it yet.


  7. Luis says:

    Thanks, it was really helpfull !

  8. Joe says:


    You are welcome.


  9. Thomas Duggin Jr says:

    Thanks, This is a big help

  10. Joe says:


    You are welcome.


  11. John H Strasburger says:

    What is the best way to print out a dimensioned drawing of each component? For example, I have a leg component that it used four times in the drawing. They are all on the same layer. When I open that layer, I have all four copies. I only want to print out one copy to use in the shop.

  12. Joe says:

    Hi John,

    I assume you are trying to print out one leg with its dimensions. What I usually do in a situation like that is create a Z-Leg layer (using the Add Invisible Layer tool). From the In House components library fetch a leg and put it on the Z-Leg layer (you will have to select it and place it on that layer in the Entity Info box). Now dimension it. When you are done select all the dimensions and place them on the Z-Leg layer. Create a scene with only Layer0 and Z-Leg visible. Then print that scene.

    Go to my Free Plans page and download my Trundle Bed SketchUp model and look at how I did this for the bed posts, panels and swan necks.

    If you are still having problems send me a copy of your .skp file attached to an email address to I will do the above operations for you and send it back.


  13. John H Strasburger says:

    I am using
    Sketchup 8 on an IMAC with Leopard. When I try to print a template
    for a component, I cannot get the Document Setup window to work. I
    put in the dimensions of the component into the Width and Height
    boxes, but when I try to change the Print Scale boxes to 1″ and 1″,
    the Width and Height figures change. And if I then change the Width
    and Height figures back to the correct amounts, the Print Scale in
    Model changes. Do you know what the problem is, or can you direct me
    to someone who might. I have been unable to find any site on the Web
    that discusses how to fill in the four boxes.

  14. Joe says:


    Are you trying to print a full scale template? Don’t put anything in the Width and Height boxes. Those boxes are for the size of the paper you want to use.

    First un-check both the “Fit to page” and “Use model extents” check boxes. Put 1″ in both “In the print out” and “In SketchUp” boxes. Now, read what the Width and Height boxes and their units say. That is telling you the size of a sheet of paper you need to get everything on one page. Often, depending on the size of your component, it is bigger than one sheet of paper your printer is capable of handling. In that case just instruct SketchUp to print the multiple pages. Cut and tape them together to get a full size template.

    If the numbers and their units in the Width and Height are equal to or less than the size paper you have in your printer you are in luck. Just instruct SketchUp to print and your component will be on one page and full size.

    Don’t forget, SketchUp has to account for the minimum margins your printer requires. So don’t expect a component whose dimensions are 10 7/8″ by 8 3/8″ to fit on an 11″ by 8 1/2″ sheet.

    If you are still having problems contact me at and attach your .skp file to the email. I will try to print it out myself and tell you what I did.

    Now, it is possible the MAC version of SketchUp has different printing dialog boxes, in which case I can’t help you. I don’t have access to a MAC. But I may be able to locate someone who uses SketchUp on a MAC.


  15. Fred Wright says:

    Can you please tell me if there is a way that I can get a realistic glass texture other than the standard colours that come with SU?
    I have seen others around that look much more proffesional but I think they are done on another software like vray or similar.

  16. Joe says:

    Hi Fred,

    I have not come across or used glass textures. You might want to look in the Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse. Making one seems more of a Photoshop effort than a SketchUp one. I imagine it as simply a semi-transparent jpeg with the appropriate textures. In fact, you might want to Google glass textures and Photoshop too.


  17. Tom J. says:

    I came across your site while looking for answers on how to print to scale. So far your guidance has been helpful and appriciated. I, however, am still having a problem in one area. You say to “Minimize window area or maximize zoom”.

    How do you minimize the window area. On some screen shots I have seen a small triangle at the extream lower right of the sketchup screen, to the right of the measurements box. I however do not see that feature on my screen. I am using the free version of sketchup 8 on a PC running windows 7.

    While I can get the object scaled to the desired size it does not orient itself on the paper and speards over 2 to 4 pages witha bit of the object on each page. The only way I have had any luck getting it to print on one page is to psh the object to the extreame upper left of the shetchup screen using the “pan’ tool.

    I an sure there is a better way but I have been trying to find it for days with no success. I hope you can help.

    Thanks in advance.

  18. Joe says:

    Hi Tom,

    First let me say that while I love SketchUp, and use it exclusively for drawing my furniture, the printing to scale feature has a software bug that has been in it since day 1 and each new release comes out and the bug is still there. have written several bug reports on this but it never seems to get high enough on the priority list to get fixed. That rant said, you can make it work as I have instructed in this post. Let me clarify.

    When I say “Minimize window area or maximize zoom” I am not referring to any one tool icon or command, but rather instructing you to do whatever you need to do to minimize any white area around the object you want printed to scale. So Zoom, Pan, Zoom Extents or even grabbing the sides of the applications window and dragging to make the window smaller are all techniques to reduce the amount of white space around the desired object.

    Sometimes you have to be so drastic as to drag the edges in and watch your tool icons start to reposition themselves.

    The trick is to adjust your applications window aspect ratio to be the same as the object you are trying to print and then reduce the amount of white space around it. Ideally you want you object to almost touch the sides of your applications window with just a minor amount of white space.

    If this doesn’t clarify things and you still can’t print to scale send me your .skp ( file and tell me what you want printed and to what scale. I will create a short video for you demonstrating how to do it. I have never come across a case where I can’t print to scale, but it does take some trial and error.


  19. tony says:

    Hi Joe
    i am trying to print a full scale printout of a chair. My plan is to take the file to kinkos and use their big printer. any suggestions? do i need a pdf file? can you please elaborate on the appropriate steps?
    thank you

  20. Joe says:

    Hi Tony,

    I think your biggest problem is going to be whether or not Kinkos has the SketchUp application installed and if they do it likely needs to be the Pro version. I don’t believe the Free version will handle the page size you need (I can’t check for you right now because I have only the Pro version on my machine and not the Free version).

    If Kinkos has the Pro you can go to the File/Print Setup/Properties button and finally Custom button to set up the page size. Once you have done this, printing to scale is then same as described in this post.

    Remember, the trick of printing to scale is to have your model fill the screen with very little to no dead space around it. That means playing with the screen size until the window has the same aspect ratio as the bounding box of your model and then using the thumb wheel on the mouse to zoom so that the model fills the window.

    I suggest you call Kinkos and see if they have SketchUp Pro first before going there. A PDF isn’t going to help you. You can’t get a 1:1 scale to follow through from the SketchUp application to a PDF.

    An alternative is to print 1:1 on your home printer. I will require that you print multiple sheets, many of them blank. But you can put the blank pages back in the printer and tape the non-blank pages together to get a large 1:1. I do this a lot in my shop. The accuracy is more than sufficient. If you use heavier card stock you get a nice stiff template.

    Hope this helps.


  21. tony says:

    thank you for your comment. i too have the pro version. there is an export function that can export to jpeg in the main menu. I can export 1:1 with that function. Do you any experience with that?
    thank you

  22. Joe says:

    Hi Tony,

    I don’t have any experience with exporting to a 1:1 jpeg. I am not sure what that means. If you are talking about File/Export/2D Graphic I don’t see how you would get a jpeg that is 1:1 scale. I suppose you could determine the full page size in inches needed to print on paper at 1:1 and then use the pixels per inch the Kinkos printer is set to to determine the overall pixel size of your jpeg. Then you could use the Options tab on the File/Export/2D Graphic dialog box and un-check Use view size to enter the overall pixel size. That might work.


  23. Brian says:

    Perhaps you and your readers may be interested in an application called “BigPrint” from Matthias Wandel at his website,
    I’m not sure if you allow web links so if you use the Google search box on the bottom of the front page and type in “bigprint” it will show you the relevant page in a Google search, first entry after the ads.

    Regards, Brian.

  24. Joe says:

    Hi Brian,

    I usually do not allow links in feedback or or posting comments. Too often spammers are trying to sneak one in that takes people to an undesirable or questionable sight. Or spam commercial ads. But I personally checked this one out and I agree with you; some readers may find this hyperlink useful.


  25. messnervan says:

    I’ve had somewhat better luck following your steps but shrinking the actual SketchUp window (not just the margins) on my desktop first. This seems to result in far fewer or no blank pages. Of course shrinking your window will reposition all your tool icons but it’s usually worth it.

  26. Joe says:

    Hi messnervan,

    I should have mentioned this in my post, but if you use View/Toolbars/Save Toolbar Positions and View/Toolbars/Restore Toolbar Positions you will not have to manually restore them. Sorry for the oversight.


  27. Emily says:


    I was wondering if you encountered printing errors when printing to scale? I use 1:1 scale to print out components of my model, however, when it prints, the template is off maybe around 1/32″. Is this an error due to conversion of the model to my printer? And is there anyway to make the printout with exact measurements? Thanks!

  28. Joe says:

    Hi Emily,

    Hmmmmm! I have never had an issue with accuracy of a 1:1 printing of my models; and I do this quite frequently. I have looked at the SketchUp dialog box in some detail to see if there is some control that addresses this and I can’t find one.

    You may want to run through the calibration procedures for your printer to see if that resolves the problem. Also, use the highest quality of prints to be sure you are using the maximum resolution of your printer and see if that helps.

    If you wish, send me a copy of your .skp file with a description of which dimension is most off and I will see what results I get on my machine. That should tell us if the model is the problem. By the way, are you using Version 8 of SketchUp?


  29. Steve says:

    Matthias Wandel’s instructions for his BigPrint program mentions that inkjet printers are accurate whereas laser printers tend to have a bit of sizing errors. Matthias’s instruction describe how to adjust the printer settings to get an accurate output from a laser printer.

  30. Richard says:

    Thanks! Your info worked perfectly–and yours was the only accurate and complete info I found anywhere about resolving this SKP printing problem.

  31. Joe says:


    Thanks you. I appreciate the comments. I have used printing to scale to produce life size templates for the workshop and it works great. I have been disappointed that in all the years Google owned SketchUp they never fixed the printing problems. I am hopeful that Trimble will.