About Units of Measure (Visio)

When you insert fields into text or build formulas, you often specify units of measure for the values you type.

Visio evaluates the result of a formula differently depending on the cell in which you enter the formula. In general, cells that represent shape position, a dimension, or an angle require a number-unit pair that consists of a number and the qualifying units needed to interpret the number. Many other cells don't require units and evaluate to a string, to TRUE or FALSE, or to an index. For example, the same formula that in the FillForegnd cell means color 5 from the drawing's color palette means TRUE (and locks the shape's width) in the LockWidth cell.

Always specify a unit of measure when you enter a formula in a cell that expects a dimensional value. If you do not specify a unit of measure, Visio uses the default unit for that cell, which can be page units, drawing units, type units, duration units, or angular units.

Units of measure

When indicating units of measure in ShapeSheet formulas, use the abbreviations listed in the following table.

To specify these units of measure Use Automation constant
Centimeters cm visCentimeters (69)
Ciceros c visCiceros (54)
Date or time date visDate (40)
Degrees deg visDegrees (81)
Didots d visDidots (53)
Elapsed weeks ew visElapsedWeek (43)
Elapsed days ed visElapsedDay (44)
Elapsed hours eh visElapsedHour (45)
Elapsed minutes em visElapsedMin (46)
Elapsed seconds es visElapsedSec (47)
Feet ft visFeet (66)
Inches in visInches (65)
Kilometers km visKilometers (72)
Meters m visMeters (71)
Miles mi visMiles (68)
Millimeters mm visMillimeters (70)
Minutes ' visMin (84)
Nautical miles nm visNautMiles (76)
Percent % visPercent (33)
Picas p visPicas (51)
Points pt visPoints (50)
Radians rad visRadians (83)
Seconds " visSec (85)
Yards yd visYards (75)

Compound units of measure

In formulas, you can express units of measure for compound numbers using the abbreviations in the following table. Visio simplifies the results and displays them in the compound units.

For example, if you enter 45.635°, Visio displays the equivalent value as 45° 38' 6".

To specify units Use this abbreviation Automation constant
Ciceros and didots CICERO/DIDOT visCicerosAndDidots (52)
Degrees, minutes, and seconds ° visDegreeMinSec (82)
Feet and inches FEET/INCH visFeetAndInches (67)
Picas and points PICAPOINTS visPicasAndPoints (49)

Fractional units of measure

You can specify fractional units of measure in the DrawingScale cell to affect the number of ruler subdivisions that Visio displays in the drawing window. By default, Visio divides distances into tenths when drawing its rulers. If you use fractional units of measure in the DrawingScale cell, Visio divides distance into the following:

  • Eighths for visInchFrac and visMileFrac

  • Twelfths for visFeetAndInches

Fractional units of measure have no effect in cells other than in the DrawingScale cell.

To specify fractional units Use this abbreviation Automation constant
Inches in fractions IN_F visInchFrac (73)
Miles in fractions MI_F visMileFrac (74)
Feet and inches FEET/INCH visFeetAndInches (67)

Multidimensional units of measure

In formulas, you can express units of measure for multidimensional numbers using the abbreviations in the following table. Visio simplifies the results and displays them in the multidimensional units.

To specify multidimensional units Use this abbreviation Automation constant
Acre ACRE visAcre (36)
Centimeters SQ. CM., SQ CM, CM.^2, CM^2 visCentimeters (69)
Feet SQ. FT., SQ FT, FT.^2, FT^2 visFeet (66)
Hectare HECTARES, HECTARE, HA., HA visHectare (37)
Inches SQ. IN., SQ IN, IN.^2, IN^2 visInches (65)
Kilometers SQ. KM., SQ KM, KM.^2, KM ^2 visKilometers (72)
Meters SQ. M., SQ M, M.^2, M ^2 visMeters (71)
Miles SQ. MI., SQ MI, MI.^2, MI ^2 visMiles (68)
Millimeters SQ. MM., SQ MM, MM.^2, MM ^2 visMillimeters (70)
Yards SQ. YD., SQ YD, YD.^2, YD^2 visYards (75)

Universal strings

In localized versions of Visio, the set of recognized strings changes with the language. If you want your program to work with multiple languages, use the universal strings for units of measure.

For Use
Centimeters CM
Ciceros C
Ciceros and didots CICERO/DIDOT
Date or time DATE
Degrees DEG
Degrees, minutes, seconds °
Didots D
Elapsed week EW
Elapsed day ED
Elapsed hour EH
Elapsed minute EM
Elapsed second ES
Feet FT
Feet and inches FEET/INCH
Inches IN
Inches in fractions IN_F
Kilometers KM
Meters M
Miles MI
Miles in fractions MI_F
Millimeters MM
Minutes '
Nautical miles NM
Percent %
Picas P
Picas and points PICAPOINTS
Points PT
Radians RAD
Seconds "
Yards YD

Implicit units of measure

When Visio parses and stores a number-unit pair, it can use explicit units or implicit units. A number expressed in explicit units always is displayed in the units of measure that were originally entered. A number expressed in implicit units always converts to the equivalent value in the drawing, page, or angular units appropriate for the cell.

For example, suppose you enter the equivalent of 1 inch in cell A using explicit units and in cell B using implicit units, and that both cell A and cell B use drawing units. Next, you change the default units for the page to centimeters. Cell A still displays 1 in., because it uses explicit units that don't change with the defaults. Cell B now displays 2.54 cm, the equivalent value in the default units.

To enter units implicitly, use the following syntax.

number [unit, flag]  

| number|The original value, such as 3.7, 1.7E-4, or 5 1/2.| | unit|The units in which number originally is expressed.| | flag|The measurement system to use when the implicit-value unit is displayed. See below for values.|

The element flag is one of the following letters (either uppercase or lowercase) indicating the measurement system that should be used when the implicit-value unit is displayed.

flag Measurement system Example
a, A Angular =5[deg,A]
d, D Drawing =5[in,D]
e, E Duration =5[eh,E]
p, P Page =5[in,P]
t, T Type =5[pt,T]

Additionally, you can use the implicit units DL, DP, DT, DA, DE for implicit drawing-, page-, text-, angular-, and time-units, respectively. These units assume the associated value is internal units. For example, if the current measurement system is centimeters, =2 DL would be interpreted as 2 internal units (inches) and displayed as 5.08 cm.

Using the implicit syntax described above, this expression (=2 DL) is equivalent to 2[in,d]. The implicit syntax gives you the choice of how to interpret the value, so you could also specify 2[ft,d], which would be interpreted as 2 feet, and displayed as 60.96 cm. The implicit units DL, DP, DT, DA, and DE are universal, and do not have localized counterparts.

Default units of measure

Following are the default units of measure along with their equivalent settings in the user interface.

Default unit of measure User interface equivalent
visDrawingUnits The units in the DrawingScale cell of the page or master containing the cell.
visPageUnits The units selected in the Measurement units box on the Page Properties tab of the Page Setup dialog box (on the Design tab, click the Page Setup arrow).
visTypeUnits The units selected in the Text box under Display on the Advanced tab of the Visio Options dialog box.
visAngleUnits The units selected in the Angle box under Display on the Advanced tab of the Visio Options dialog box.
visDurationUnits The units selected in the Duration box under Display on the Advanced tab of the Visio Options dialog box.