Measuring 3D objects in PDFs

Use the 3D Measurement Tool to measure 3D models. You can create measurements between combinations of points or edges of the 3D model. As you move the pointer over the 3D model, specific points and edges are highlighted. The 3D Measurement Tool supports four types of measurements: perpendicular distance between two straight edges, linear distance between two points, the radius of circular edges, and the angle between two edges (or three points).

You can associate 3D measurements with specific views. If the default view is active when a measurement is added, a new measurement view is created. This view is added to the view hierarchy in the Model Tree. The measurement is associated with that view only. The measurement shows up as a child of the view.

You can also display comments while taking measurements. These comments (also called measurement markups) are preserved after the document is closed.

3D measurement display
3D measurement display

Measure 3D objects

  1. Click a 3D model in a PDF to enable it.
  2. Click the 3D Measurement Tool icon  on the 3D toolbar. (If the 3D toolbar view is set for consolidated tools, select the 3D Measurement tool from the pop-up menu next to the Navigation tool.)
  3. Select the options you want in the Snap Enables and Measurement Types areas of the 3D Measurement Tool palette.
  4. Right-click the model background, and change the options as needed. Leave the 3D Measurement Tool palette open.
  5. Measure the 3D model:
    • To measure the distance between two positions on the 3D model, click to set a start point. Then move the pointer to another location or an edge.

    • To measure the circumference of a round shape, move the pointer to the edge of the shape so that a circle appears, and click once.

    • To create and set an annotation on the measurement, right-click the object background and select Change Markup Label. Type a markup label. Measure the 3D model as described previously. Click to set the end point for the measurement, and then click a third time to set the location of the measurement and label.

    • To save a measurement as a comment, select the Hand tool, right-click the measurement, and click Convert To Comment.

    • To discontinue a measurement, right-click and choose Cancel Measurement.

    • To delete a measurement markup, click it with the3D Measurement Tool and press Delete.


    To learn how to rotate, pan, zoom, and snap while you measure, right-click the model and choose 3D Measurement Navigation Tips.  

Snap Enables options in the 3D Measurement Tool palette

3D Snap To Edge Endpoints 

Snaps to the entire edge.

3D Snap To Linear Edges 

Snaps to a straight-line segment of an edge.

3D Snap To Radial Edges 

Snaps to a circumference.

3D Snap To Silhouettes

Snaps to the apparent edge of a part, such as the side of a cylinder.

3D Snap To Planar Faces 

Snaps to the geometric plane making up a face of the part.

Measurement Types options in the 3D Measurement Tool palette

3D Point To Point Measurement 

Measures the distance between two positions on the 3D model. Click to set a start point, and then click another location to set an end point or edge.

3D Perpendicular Dimension 

Measures the distance between two edges taken at a right angle to the starting edge.

3D Radial Dimension 

Measures the radius at the location clicked.

3D Angle Measurement 

Measures the angle between two edges.

Units and markup options

To use the Units and Markup measurement tools, select the 3D Measurement Tool, and then right-click inside the model.

Define Model Units

Select to change the measurement units.

Enable Coordinate Display

Displays or hides the coordinates of the mouse pointer location in the Measurement Info Window.

Change Markup Label

Type the text that you want to appear with the measurement, both in the 3D model area and in the Comments panel. (Not available if Measurement Markup is not selected.)

Disable Measurement Markup

Select when you want to take measurements in a model, but not add them to the document. The measurements are only visible while the current measurement is active. If you start another measurement or change tools, the markup disappears.

Don’t Snap To 3D Content

Disables the ability to snap the insertion point to a likely target. Select this option to improve performance when you are working with a large model. Return to Snap To 3D Content to ensure precise measurement in 3D objects.

3D Measurement Navigation Tips

Opens a dialog box that lists the keyboard shortcuts for several navigation shorts. You can use these shortcuts while you are measuring.


Opens the Measuring (3D) Preferences dialog box.

Hide/Show Measurement Info Window

The Measurement Info Window displays the Units And Markup settings for the model. Select to remove the window from the model window.

Hide/Show Measurement Toolbar

Removes/displays the 3D Measurement Tool palette.

Measuring preferences

Change the 3D Measuring preferences to determine how 3D data is measured. These options appear in the Measuring (3D) panel of the Preferences dialog box.


In Adobe Acrobat Reader, these preferences apply to PDFs that have commenting enabled.

Use Scales And Units From Model (When Present)

Displays measurements based on the model units, if present, generated from the original 3D model. Deselect this option to specify the units of measurements manually. This setting can be changed in the 3D Measurement Tool palette.

Use Default Display Unit

Uses units of measurement that you specify here rather than the measurement units in the 3D model.

Significant Digits To Display

Specifies the maximum number of digits in the measurement number.

3D Measuring Line Color

Specifies the color of the line that appears when you click or drag to measure an object.

Measure Feedback Size

Sets the text size for the measurement display.

Angular Measurements Shown In

Specifies units as either degrees or radians.

Circular Measurements Shown As

Designates whether the diameter or radius is measured for circular parts.

Show Circle For Radial Measurements

Displays the circumference associated with the radial measurement.

3D Snap Settings

Turns on snap and specifies whether points, arcs, edges, silhouette edges, or faces are snapped to. Sensitivity indicates how close the pointer must be to the item being snapped to. For Snap Hint Color, specify the color of the snap line that appears when you hold the pointer over the 3D object.

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