I've heard the terms schematics and PCB designs used interchangeably as well as used distinctively. Are these one in the same, or do they represent to different sets of blueprints? If the latter, what is the difference between them and what different types of information do they convey?

For instance take this Arduino example: it shows separate diagrams for Schematic and Board.



Schematics/circuit diagram conveys the electrical connection between different active and passive electrical components like resistors, capacitors, Integrated circuits IC. Schematics is readable and understandable format about the connectivity and functionality between different components. For e.g.



Printed Circuit Board(PCB) is abbreviated as PCB or sometimes it is called as Printed Wiring Board(PWB). PCB is the physical representation of all the electrical connections between active and passive components used in the schematic. But readability and understating of PCB is complicated as compare to Schematic. For e.g. PCB

I have tried to explain here in layman language. Going into detail of the PCB design there are different tools available like ALTIUM, ALLEGRO and many more.

PCB can be built using FR4 laminate or ceramic material.

FR4 Material Laminate:


Ceramic PCB:

enter image description here

As far as PCB Design is considered. PCB's can be single layer, 2 layer, 4 layer or even multi-layer with thickness of 0.8mm or 1.6mm or even more as per the numbers of layers. While designing the PCB specific stack-up is followed which defines Power layer, Ground layer and signal layer sandwiched between FR4 material with the core in between.

Example PCB stack-up: Stack-up

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the nice pictures. It should be mentioned with many schematic capture/layout programs, it is possible to click on an item (either a component or netlist) in the schematic and have it pointed out on the PCB layout, and vice-versa. \$\endgroup\$ – tcrosley Sep 4 '14 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes a animated picture can be created like the ones they use in Wikipedia. I will work on that. Thanks for the suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – AKR Sep 4 '14 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's not a ceramic PCB. \$\endgroup\$ – Armandas Sep 4 '14 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's not a ceramic PCB; this is a ceramic PCB: hybridcircuit.com/index_files/CERAMIC48.jpg \$\endgroup\$ – alex.forencich Sep 4 '14 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, you can't forget about rogers, duroid, teflon, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – alex.forencich Sep 4 '14 at 19:13

A schematic is a circuit diagram. It uses agreed symbols to represent components and shows how they are electrically connected.

A PCB design shows the copper track and hole layout of a printed circuit board and usually indicates the location of components and their values/codes with a silk screen printed layer.

With a schematic diagram you can easily analyse how the circuit is put together and identify connections.

To get the same sort of information from a PCB design is much more difficult (see reverse engineering e,g, https://stacks.stanford.edu/file/druid:np318ty6250/Johnson_Reverse_Engineering_PCBs.pdf)


Schematic is a graphical representation of electric circuit. It shows the components and interconnects of each other which can be used for PCB Design.

Where PCB Design is a technique to build a electronics device on which the real electronics component can be assembled and the functionality of the device can be tested.It also Represent the physical interconnects of device with Copper.


Schematics and PCB designs are two different things and have different purposes. Schematics can be used to design a circuit before you actually build it, probably in a prototype phase. When you are sure your circuit works you design a printed circuit board (PCB) to print out a board where electrical components are soldered. Here's a video that explains what are schematics: Collin's Lab: Schematics.

Schematics are the functional diagram of electronic circuits. With so many designs available on the web, understanding how to read schematics can unlock a world of possibilities for the electronics maker. In fact, if you can read a schematic, you can build a circuit before even understanding how it works!

And here's a dictionary of electrical symbols: http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_5/chpt_9/1.html


To put it differently:

  • a schematic is the "logical" version. You see the connections between the different components, but:

    • they are not at scale, so you can actually see the different connections, while on a PCB the pins of an IC may be very very very close together
    • you may see things like connections "crossing" each other
    • or, on the contrary, you can have references, which two connections at opposite sides of the diagram that are marked as being linked
    • you can have the whole diagram on a single-sided page, or on the contrary, take many pages to show all the details of various components
    • complex schematics will usually be split by function, so the layout is easy to understand, but may not match the physical layout at all. You could have board-edge connectors shown right in the middle of a diagram, for instance.
  • the PCB is the "physical" version. You have the PCB itself (the printed circuit board), and the PCB design files (Gerber files). They also connect various components together, but here:

    • all the components are at their exact size and position
    • two connections that shouldn't be connected can't cross on the same level. So they have to take a detour to avoid crossing, either on the same 2D level, or by switching to another layer of a PCB
    • a PCB can have several layers. They commonly have 2 (the two sides), but you can have several more layers sandwiched in between
    • they need to take physical requirements into account, such as connectors on the edges, spacing of various components due to heat propagation, thickness of the various traces depending on current and heat issues...

You usually start by designing the schematic, as what is important initially is what the various components are, and how they are connected to each other: where they are on the board is often secondary, at least initially.

Then you have to design the physical version (some tools will help you do that automatically). Then you get the physical version made. Then you assemble the components on the PCB. And voilà, you have your board!

Now you notice it doesn't work, and you have to fix something to make it work, and you start again :-)


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