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A reference attachment is a model attached to and displayed with the active model for plotting or construction purposes. A reference cannot be modified unless it has been activated. You can attach as a reference a model that resides in the open DGN file, another DGN file, a DWG file, or any other file type that is available in the Attach Reference dialog.

Elements in a reference display as though they were in the active model. Although you cannot manipulate the elements in a reference, you can snap to them and even copy them into the active model.

Common Usages for References

The most common usage of references is in the creation of design compositions. Design compositions are used by engineers and other technical professionals to communicate through the visual content of their designs.

To create a design composition, you build a design model consisting of a working collection of references used in the performance of particular engineering tasks. For example, you may attach as references a collection of survey points as a guide for placement of additional geometry. Reference attachments in a design composition are usually coincident.

Tip: It is sometimes convenient to refer to one part of a model while drawing in another area by attaching the active model to itself (a self-reference).
Note: You can attach a redline file created using Bentley Redline to your model for reviewing purposes.
Note: Another common usage of references is in the creation of drawings for publication. This task is called drawing composition. Whereas a design composition is typically contained in a design model, a drawing is composed in a sheet model.
Note: To attach a raster image to the active model as a (read-only) reference, use the Raster Manager dialog ( Drawing > Attach > Raster > Raster Manager dialog launcher ).

Preferences Affecting References

User preferences that affect reference operations can be set in the Preferences dialog Reference category.