Altium Standards

5 minute read

Altium Standards

This guide is a cheatsheet of what I think are the most useful part of a more formal standard I wrote here.


  • Power port naming:
    • Power ports of specific value shall be named:
      • {type}{polarity}{value}V
    • Power ports of variable value shall be named:
      • V{name}{polarity}
    • Ground/Common ports shall be named:
      • {type}GND
  • {type} (is optional) denotes the power port type (eg, ANA for analog).
  • {polarity} is either + or -
  • {value} is a numeric value, use decimals if necessary
  • {name} is a descriptive name of a port



Mechanical Layer Function Description
Mechanical 1 Board outline PCB outline which can be used to define the board shape.
Mechanical 2 Panel outline Only used on for panelization to separate the board outlines from the panel outline
Mechanical 3 Case Body 3D Body for casing and other external interfaces
Mechanical 4 NC Routing Defines required routing to be performed on a PCB and/or panel
Mechanical 7 (pair M8) Designator Top Reserved for top when designators cannot be placed on the silkscreen
Mechanical 8 (pair M7) Designator Bottom Reserved for when designators cannot be placed on the silkscreen
Mechanical 13 (pair M14) Component Top Top layer component outlines and 3D bodies
Mechanical 14 (pair M13) Component Bottom Bottom layer component outlines and 3D bodies
Mechanical 15 (pair M16) Courtyard Top Top layer component courtyard
Mechanical 16 (pair M15) Courtyard Bottom Bottom layer component courtyard

Stack up and DRC

  • All stackup heights should match your intended PCB
  • The stackup should be informed by manufacturer capabilities
  • DRC rules should also be informed by manufacturer capabilities

Schematic Library

Component designators

Component Designator Component Designator
BJT Q? Jumper J?
Buzzer B? LED D?
Capacitor C? MOSFET Q?
Capacitor Array CA? Motor M?
Chokes L? Oscillator X?
Connector J? Relay K?
Crystal X? Resistor R?
DIAC D? Resistor Array RA?
Diode D? SIDAC D?
Fan M? Solenoid M?
Ferrite Bead FB? Speaker B?
Fiducial FID? Switch S?
Fuse F? Thermistor R?
IC U? Transformer T?
Inductor L? TVS/Zener D?

Each part number has a unique schematic symbol

Keeps the library clean and minimizes accidental build mistakes.

Schematic symbol pins

  • When provided, pin numbering shall follow the manufacturer’s datasheet.
  • When two row connectors are not given default numbering, zig-zag the numbers down the connector, with odd numbers down one row and even numbers down the opposite row.
  • When a part’s pin numbering is ambiguous, number pins counter-clockwise about the component’s center.
  • Name the pins the same as the datasheet

Schematic symbol drawing rules

  • All symbols use the same color scheme
  • Pin designators start at 1, and count up.
  • Use a drawing grid of 10 for placing pins.
  • Pin size must be a multiple of 10.
Drawing element Color RGB Hex Code
Pin black #000000
Symbol Primitives blue #0000FF
Box Outline dark red #800000
Box Fill light yellow #FFFFB0

Schematic symbol properties

  • Use a component’s part number as the design item ID
  • Use Digikey’s descriptions (when possible)
  • Include fields for manufacturer part number and manufacturer
  • Include the following fields:
Component Parameter Description
BJT Vce Max collector-emitter voltage
Capacitor/Capacitor Array Value Set to capacitance
  VRating Capacitor voltage rating
Crystal/Oscillator Frequency Component frequency
DIAC/SIDAC Vbr Breakover voltage
Diode VReverse Reverse voltage rating
  IForward Maximum forward current
Ferrite Bead Value Set to impedance@freq e.g. 150@10MHz
Fuse IRated Holding current rating
Inductor Value Set to inductance
  IRated Max or saturation current, whichever is lower
Mosfet Vds Max drain-source voltage
Resistor/Resistor Array Value Set to resistance
Thermistor RNominal Nominal resistance at 25°C
TVS/Zener Vz Zener or breakdown voltage

Symbol Library Groups

Library Name Component Types
Capacitor Capacitor, Capacitor Array
Connector Connector, Jumper
Diode Rectifier Diode, Diode Array,
Display Display IC, Display Modules, LED Modules
Filter Filter IC, Filter module, Ferrite Bead
Fuse Fuse
Inductor Inductor
Transistor N-Channel MOSFET, P-Channel MOSFET, N-Channel JFET, P-Channel JFET,NPN BJT, PNP BJT, IGBTs, SCR, TRIAC
Misc Anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere
Oscillator Crystal, Oscillator, Clock Modules
Processor Microcontroller, Microprocessor, FPGA, Processor Module
Protection TVS Diodes, TVS Modules, Fuses
Resistor Resistor, Resistor Array
Sensor Sensor IC, Sensor Module
Switch Relay, Switch
Thermistor PTC, NTC
Transducer Buzzer, Fan, Motor, Solenoid, Speaker
Transformer Common Mode Chokes, Transformer

PCB Library

PCB Footprint Drawing

  • Pads use the top and/or multilayer
  • Silkscreen should be used to show shape and orientation
  • Use 0.15mm (6mil) for the minimum silkscreen
  • Mechanical layers:
    • Layer 13 - Component Body
      • Arcs and lines to show shape
      • Place 3D bodies here
    • Layer 15 - Courtyard
      • Arcs and lines of width 0.05mm
      • Crosshair of two 1mm long lines to show origin
      • Bounding box to assist placement
  • Position 0,0 of the component should be on its center

PCB Footprint Naming

IPC standard chips are named 0803C_N

Use the pattern {imperial package} {type}_{density}.

  • {imperial package} is the imperial package (eg. 0402, or 1206).
  • {type} is the component type:
    • C is capacitor
    • D is diode or LED
    • F is ferrite bead
    • L is inductor
    • R is resistor
  • {density} is the placement density of the component:
    • L is “Least” (or high density)
    • N is “Normal” (or medium density)
    • M is “Most” (or low density)

IPC standard footprints are named SOIC-8_L

Use the pattern {standard}_{density}

  • SOT23-3_M is a “Most” (or low density) SOT23-3 footprint
  • SOIC-8_L is a “Least” (or high density) SOIC-8 footprint

Manufacture Specific footprints are named STM_8-DFM-5x6

Use the pattern {manufacturer}_{package}

  • SEMTECH_6-QFN is a 16-QFN footprint from SemTech
  • STM_8-DFM-5x6 is an 8-DFM footprint from STMicroelectronics

Non-standard footprint naming uses the part number

Use the pattern {partnumber} or {manufacturer}_{partnumber}

Non-component footprint naming is freeform

Footprint library groups

Library Footprint Types
IPC-Chip All chip resistors, capacitors etc
Mechanical All non-electonic component footprints, includes mounting, logos, net ties, testpoints, etc.
Other IPC Group all other footprints based on IPC standard, one library per footprint type. e.g. SOT, SOIC etc
Non-standard Group based on component types - same as the symbol library groups

Project Outputs

Include the following fields in the bill of materials:

quantity designator comment description manufacturer manufacturer part number

Template bill of materials