ArchiCAD Training | Optimizing Your Work with Templates – Part 2

Eric BobrowIn the first installment of this training series on ArchiCAD templates, I explained how to reference a template file when you start up a new project, and how to create a new template. I also discussed how important it is to work with a customized template rather than the generic one provided by Graphisoft, since it will save substantial amounts of time working on each project.

If you missed this lesson, you’ll find a copy of it here.


One of the best ways to create a good template for your own office is to save a copy of a project that you’ve worked on as a TPL file. After you use the File menu > Save As command and choose ArchiCAD Template File (TPL) as the file type, you can then remove all the project-specific information, leaving the structure of the file intact to use as the basis of your next project.

Choose a current or recent project that you feel is nicely set up, one that is somewhat typical of your general focus. Ideally, this is your best work to date, with everything working as nicely as possible. That way, as you move forward, you are starting with your best effort, and perhaps improving or refining it over time.

This project will have a lot going for it: your title block is on all the appropriate Master Layouts, and your Layout Book is arranged the way you like your sheet numbering and sequence. It should have your door, window and other schedules defined and reporting the information you need and styled nicely.

Perhaps you’ve created additional layers and layer combinations – these will be in the TPL file ready to use for your next file. If you created new Composites for walls, roofs or slabs, these will stay in the file, as will any new Materials, Fills or Linetypes.

When you prepare this TPL, you should delete the building itself, since obviously each project has a different design. You’ll also need to get rid of the annotation that relates to that building, both on the floor plan (turn on all layers to see it all) and in every section and elevation view.


Don’t delete the elevation markers – you’ll need them in the next project. In fact, you may want to keep some or all of the section markers, and simply move them over to the side. That way, when you start a new project, after you model the basic building shell, you can move and possibly rotate and stretch the elevation and section markers into position and their drawings will already be on the appropriate Layout sheets. You didn’t delete those Drawings or sheets, did you?

The same goes for Views in the View Map. Don’t delete anything that you think might be usable in a typical project. Things can always be adjusted next time, but it’s easier to tweak and rework things than to define things each time from scratch.

This can be a real time-saver. Keeping the structural relationships within your project file (markers, views, drawings on the layouts) will allow you to focus a greater percentage of the time on design and less on administrative setup.

In fact, a case can be made for keeping some of your typical notes around, off to the side of the floor plan or each elevation or section. If you do this right, you’ll be able to drag into place these labels or text blocks in the next project, rather than create them anew. (Of course, if they don’t relate to the next building, you can delete them in an instant.)

What about your details and any worksheets you created? If they are typical details that may apply to many of your building designs, consider keeping them in the TPL and reusing them if they fit, discarding them if they don’t.


So you saved a copy of your project file as an ArchiCAD Template file or TPL at the beginning of this process, and have now thrown out the building model and annotation, keeping whatever you think will be reusable. Make sure you again save this TPL after all the work you’ve done.

When you start your next project, you can tell ArchiCAD to browse for this template, and when you choose this TPL file, it will get added to the popup list of recent templates. You’ll be starting with a lot of stuff already in place – which should make your work go more smoothly and more easily.

By the way, if you decide later on to tweak the template, it’s easy, but there is a small trick you’ll need to remember. To open the TPL file for editing (rather than copying as the basis of a new project), use the Open command and browse for it. You may need to change the filetype filter to show All Files or ArchiCAD Template Files specifically, since it may be set to only show normal project files.

After you open the TPL, you should see the name of the TPL file in the title at the top of the floor plan window. If you see “Untitled”, you’re actually working on a copy; this will be a bit awkward, since you won’t be able to easily save changes to the TPL. You’ll avoid this issue if you follow the instructions above: from within ArchiCAD, use the File menu > Open command and browse for the TPL file (don’t use the Open Recent submenu, or double-click directly from your desktop or OS folder).


In the next lesson, I’ll talk about how far you can take a template. You’ll get some ideas for optimizing it even further in ways that you may not have thought of.

I’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment here or send me an email if you appreciate these tutorials. Send me your questions and suggestions, and I’ll do my best to respond to your concerns.

Best regards,
Eric Bobrow

P.S. If you want to gain the benefit of my experience, and work with the best and most optimized template for ArchiCAD, check out MasterTemplate. It’s the most robust and complete (yet fully customizable) template system available for ArchiCAD.

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