Is there a way to change the symbols for the passive components in my Altium schematic to the European style?


I only seem to find the North American style of resistors in the components and manufacturer part search panels.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes: 1) draw your own symbols 2) use a library with the desired type of components. Also consider "just getting used to it". I also don't like the "wiggely" resistors (they look to much like inductors) but I got used to it and actually don't even notice anymore. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2021 at 12:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, no matter what style you decide to settle on, DO NOT set the schematic grid to metric, or you will be sorry. DO NOT make new components (pin spacings) on a metric grid, or you will be sorry. Metric grid settings tend to result in endless off-grid errors when the eventual English or unitless schematic component sneaks in (the vast majority of existing parts, even Altium's). One of the most brain-dead decisions Altium has made in the past 2 decades was to introduce units to the schematic drawing. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2021 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisKnudsen Having schematic symbols with dimensional qualities is important since many people use ANSI or ISO paper sizes for their drawings. I agree that tenth-inch grid is a very convenient grid pitch and prevents issues should you used canned components. \$\endgroup\$
    – qrk
    Oct 8, 2021 at 3:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @qrk I'll maintain my position that including units in a schematic does not support the primal purpose of an electrical schematic. All schematic symbols are in fact virtual and inherently dimensionless. Forcing inches/mm/furlongs onto a schematic design is adding complexity for no reason, and no benefit - except for those still struggling with how to deal with printer settings, or bent on adhering to unnecessarily stringent (pointlessly detailed) documentation requirements, specified by someone who in actuality, has never embraced the curiosity to lick a 9V battery. Oh, I feel better now. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2021 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisKnudsen I still test 9V batteries on my tongue. Tried a 45V B-battery on the tongue as a kid and never did it again. \$\endgroup\$
    – qrk
    Oct 8, 2021 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


Making your own symbols and footprints is basic to any PCB CAD system. This is a good time to learn how to do it.
I always make my own schematic symbols and PCB footprints, never using Altium's symbols and footprints. A well drafted schematic is artistically balanced, something that is hard to attain with Altium's schematic symbols. Spend a day and create all your basic schematic symbols and you're set for life. If you are new to the art of electronics, dig up some Tektronix manuals (465 or 475 are good starting points) from the 1970s and study the schematic diagrams in the back as they are excellent examples of well drawn schematics. Heathkit manuals from the 1970s are a good source for artistic inspiration. Schematics in uni courses and text books, with exception to the "Art of Electronics", are excellent examples of how not to draw a schematic.

One of the good features of Altium are the schematic and PCB files are portable (doesn't need an external library), so no worries if you need to hand your project to someone else across the pond.

Some things I do to make life easier:

  • My libraries and templates reside in separate directories from the Altium structure.
  • I have different library files. Makes finding parts easier when designing. Example:
    Misc (resistors, capacitors, inductors, test points, fiducials hardware)
    IC_Analog (analog integrated circuits, what to do with mixed signal parts?)
    IC_Digital (digital integrated circuits)
    IC_Misc (power supply modules)
    Semiconductors (diodes, transistors)
    Connectors (connectors, headers)
    Art (logos, cartoons)
  • I use an include-file which allows me to use a .xls (Excel or Calc) database to stuff parameters (company part number, description, manufacturer, manufacturer part number, footprint reference, ...) in to my symbols on the schematic. Include-files work well for individuals, but hard to maintain/implement if you have multiple seats. Not documented, if you don't have Micro$oft Office installed, you need to install the Microsoft Access runtime. The include-file functionality was poorly implemented, but it does work.

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