Placing a Table of Contents

An EPLAN user recently posted a question on the forum that i thought that I would answer here as the response will be rather long and require several graphics.


I have a large project with approximately 200 pages with a structure something like this:




+ (A.Panel_1)

+ (A.Panel_2)

+ (B.Panel_1)


+ (A.Panel_3)

+ (A.Panel_4)

+ (B.Panel_2)

I would like to generate a table of contents for the whole project under the = level.

From <https://www.eplan.community/en/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=21360>


So I made a quick demo project to see if I could walk you through this..I changed mine slightly because I did not fully understand yours, they should be functionally similar.

When I first create the project I add the TOC form to the template and generate the reports, when I do EPLAN places the report at the bottom of the page navigator, this is largely controlled in the report template settings which we can see here: Utilities > Report >Generate

Select the report in the list and the settings will be in the right window, Start page of report block defines the starting page..I have:  ===+++/1 which if I think about my structure elements for a moment looks right.

However my TOC report page is located at the bottom of the navigator and I want it at the top. This is controlled by the structure identifier manager settings:

Project Data > Structure identifier management > Functional assignment

I select the [==] Functional Assignment icon to set the view in the right window. In (row 2) I see that pages with an empty identifier will be placed below all others, I think I want to move them to the top of the page navigator so I will move the empty identifier setting in row 2 to row 1.

I now generate the reports again and the TOC has moved to the top

This is where most designers will want it but you specifically requested it be placed in the HLF =AREA.

I will need to edit the report settings again: Utilities > Report >Generate > TOC >1

I will also need to edit the “Start page of the report block”


That should do it..

Are you sure that you really need a structure that has that many levels?

Is this something that you have used before and you know that it meets your needs?

I have worked in some very large auto plants that document the assembly line with only 3 structure elements..just saying..


Simple Block Property

A frequent contributor on the forum posted a question recently that I thought I would answer here in detail. 

In the circuit below function text is assigned to the relay coil. The designer would like to transfer this text automatically to both the Coil, the coil contacts and the related lamp which is part of the circuit.  For this example they will all be located on the same schematic page but of course the contacts and the lamp can also be anywhere in the design.

I was so inspired about this topic I created a video and posted it on You Tube.

The function text at the bottom is a special kind of text know as Path Function text, this text can be accessed directly in the schematic and its data can be transferred easily to other objects in its path, for IEC designs this requires vertical alignment and for NFPA this requires horizontal alignment.

I will start by creating the path function text below the relay coil and by adding a display property to the coil to display the text there.

Now to define the coil and the contact as related all I need to do is assign them with the same device tag (DT) or reference designator. While I am doing that i will also add the display property for the Function Text. This data will be available directly at the contact because when I assign the DT, they will be defined as related functions of the same logical device.

Ok, so now all we have left is the lamp..how do we access the data of the relay?

Block Properties

The lamp and the contact are related though a logical (wired) connection. In EPLAN we can make use of these direct and indirect relationships by creating a custom data property known as a Block Property. I will avoid trying to define what a block property is, I will leave that to EPLAN, but I will state that they are a powerful tool available to communicate information in EPLAN to devices that share some type of logical relationship.

In the case of the contact and the lamp they are logically related via the connection point X2 on the lamp and the N.O. contact. EPLAN is aware of this relationship via the connection (wire) and you can use this relationship to access information about the relay contact via this connection. In essence EPLAN will look out from the connection (H23:x2) to the next device and you can tell EPLAN to make information about that device available at the lamp.

Block Properties at the Part Reference level
Block Properties can be created at two different levels, at the symbol or object reference level or at the project level. I like to first create them at the symbol level to make sure that they work and then copy them to the project level. At the symbol level we have access to specific data values that makes the creation process much easier.

This means that we can create a block property locally for this instance of the lamp symbol and any copies that we make of it, but if we insert a new lamp symbol using symbol insertion, that data format will not transfer because the definition was created in the schematic for a particular instance of the symbol. To make the block property available to ALL symbols in the project we need to define the block property at the Project Level AND then assign it at the schematic level as a display property.

Are you starting to think about local and global variables? Good, because that is essentially exactly what we are talking about.

Block Property Format

We will begin by defining the relationship between the objects and the data, this is known as a block property format.

We will open the device properties of the lamp.

On the first properties tab (Signal Lamp) we will look at the properties in the grid at the bottom of the dialog. Let’s start by looking for existing Block Property formats and find an available slot. 
I will be creating a new Block Property: Format at position #10, you may already have some in your project so if #10 is already in use just select another position and make note of it.

Once you create the block Property Format you will be returned to the main dialog

Selecting the Value field of the new property, the ellipsis should appear […] and we want to select that to define the format of this block property.

A new dialog will appear: “Format”
We will now look for the data that we wish to display on the related object
First I should tell you that the current data displayed is related directly to the Signal Lamp that we selected and we can verify that by looking at the Navigation dialog at the bottom.

The relay contact is related to the lamp via a connection at H23:x2
So starting at the point of view of the lamp, we want to look at data related to a Target (some other object) via a connection point on the lamp.
In the available format elements select: “Target via connection point and target number”.

A list of connection points will appear, and the lamp has two connection points so we should expect to see data at two connection points. Looking “out” from the connection point along the wire we see a relay contact (Connection point 1: Target 1) and we see a terminal (Connection point 2: Target 1). This information helps to confirm that I am looking at the correct data and I also know which connection point I want to use as a reference.

Again, the current list of available format elements (data) is for the lamp and we want them to reflect data for the contact or the coil.
To change the focus of the data set, we will need to navigate up the connection point to the contact.
So I will select Connection Point 1, Target 1, and then at the bottom I will select the “UP STAIRS” icon to “navigate” to the change-over contact.

When I do, the information in the navigation pane will update describing where I am:
I started at the Lamp and I am now referencing a target via a connection point (Change-Over Contact)

Ok great, we can now get the data from the contact or with a few more clicks directly from the coil because they are directly related.

In the middle of the list of format elements we can see a property “Main Function (=+K10 A1/A2 Coil for Power Contactor) or similar.

If we select this property and then select the Navigation tool again, we can change the focus to the main coil. Again, we can verify this by looking in the navigation pane at the bottom. It reads as follows top to bottom:

  • We started at the lamp
  • We jumped to the next target (relay contact) via a connection point
  • We then jumped to the main function which is the relay coil.

The available format elements will now reflect data for the relay coil. 

Ok great, we can now point to the data from relay coil. 
In the “available format elements list” I will scroll to the top and expand the function list.
This is a list of data types associated with the Relay Coil.
I will now select the General Function element and then to blue arrow icon to expand and access related data sets.
I will search for function text..and in this case I can see the desired value in Function Text Common, which I will select.

Now in the right side of my format dialog I will see the selected data element and in the bottom right preview window I will see a Block Property (Format?) and a preview of the desired results.
Now this is why I like to create these at the part reference level first so that I can see the specific data that I want, you can create these at the project level but you will not see any object specific data.
[OK] to save the BP

We will test this first and later we will copy this (BP format ?) to the project level.

Returning to the schematic the BP format has been created and we should see it in the properties list. 

To see it we need to add it as a display property to the lamp.


The result is a circuit where the three dependent function texts can be automatically synchronized to the main path function text, no matter what page the contact and lamp find themselves on. 

To update the text after an edit, go to Project Data > Connections > Update.


Changing the orientation of the lamp in the circuit will affect the transfer of data to the lamp. Computers are excellent rule followers; In my case I told EPLAN to look out the connection point of the lamp at x1 to the next device; if i insert the symbol rotated 180 degrees it will not “see” the contacts but instead the terminal X1:4.


Almost Done.. Now we need to copy the BP to create one with global project scope.

Project Level Block Property

Lets open up the local block property that we created and copy the Format or Value.

Simply select the value and copy 

Close the dialog

Project > Properties 

On the Properties tab sort by property name by double clicking the column heading.

Look for a list of Block Properties

I will be randomly creating one at: Block Property: Format (General Devices) [10]

I would simply look for one that has NOT already been used. 

Add the property as NEW if needed.

When the value window appears simply paste the previous data into the cell.

OK to save and close the dialog

Return to the schematic editor

Open the properties of the lamp

Delete the block property that we previously created as we don’t need it anymore.

Click the cell to delete the text

Once the text is gone you can click and delete again to remove the cell.

Go to the display tab

Verify that the Block Property is assigned 



Sensor Macros

When considering macro representations always remember that even though the Data Portal may not have the exact part that you are looking for, it almost certainly has parts that are very similar to the part that you are looking for. These parts can be searched for using general search terms and used as a reference.

Now, as in everything in life, not all parts on the data portal are created equal. Some are excellent and some are a bit less than awesome and most will need some adjustments to make you happy, especially the NFPA designers.

Here are a few examples of various types of sensors and how a the graphical macro might differ based on the actual device construction:

EX1: Sensor or Device that is Field Wired

A device that requires point to point field wiring such as a limit switch.

Devices like this are often created without a graphical macro, instead they use the function template properties to define the available functions in the device. These functions then correspond to a standard electrical symbol for each function, in the case of a limit switch this might be a normally open and a normally closed contact.

If the designer instead chooses to create a graphical macro to represent the device, a window macro is often created that works well with the design style in use. At  minimum this macro will often include a black box, a macro box and connection points of some sort. 

Be sure to place the insertion points of the various connection points inside the macro black box or alternately include them in the macro selection.

These symbols represent wire connection points so remember to use device connection points, not terminals which look very similar.

Example Part: OMR.WLCA2-7-N

(Includes Link to Data Portal)

EX2: A Device with a Plug Port

This is a very common representation of a sensor that is found in just about every project, it should be very clear that the sensor includes a plug port or receptacle (some here in the USA call this a Jack) and it should clearly represent that it is intended to mate to a plug on the end of a cable.  

Make sure to get the plug symbol sex correct and make sure that the insertion points of the symbols are on or inside the black box.

The graphics shown here can be nice to have but they are not required, adding them can also make it harder to reuse them for other similar parts and its one more thing that can be identified at the end of the project that might need to be corrected.

Example Part: IFM.KI5085

EX3: A Device with supplied cable and fly leads

This represents a type of device that is commonly encountered that is provided with a length of multi-conductor cable. This device  comes with factory terminated connections on the device side of the cable and loose or fly lead connections on the other.

Because a lead cable is provided with this part, it is important to illustrate that in the macro design so that it is clear to all (including yourself at a later date). In this case the designer created the black box and added device connection points with no graphics (hidden) to represent the direct wired connections.  Standard symbols can also be added as graphics to help communicate the function and functions of the device.

Example Part: GAN.139.1-49-101-CK-2

Now like I said earlier, not all macros are created with the attention that they might deserve. 

Just like the previous device this device also comes supplied with a length of cable. However if you only looked at the macro you might think that this is a field wired device with no supplied cable. I am not trying to shame anyone here, just want to point out that some methods are better than others for certain devices.

Example Part: A-B.872C-D10NP30-J2

EX4: Device with included cable with Plug

In this example we have a device with an included cable with a factory terminated plug in which all the internal conductors are shown.. Now this is where you need to make a decision, do you show the internal conductors or not?

Most users would ever need to trouble shoot the internal conductors, so you may wonder why they are shown and decide not to show them yourself. However for EPLAN to be able to understand and communicate the full logic of the connections it needs the full details of all the connections. If you do not use or require these detailed capabilities you could also represent this connection as a single connection. For basic reporting purposes it will work fine, but once you go down this path you are committing to it and if you decide later to use error checking (EPLAN Messaging) you will find that EPLAN can tell that what you did graphically does not make sense logically.

Example Part: SICK.1072612

Here is a similar device with a macro that leaves room for confusion. Now logically the macro is correct and all device connections are shown, however you can probably imagine that most people who look at this macro would have no idea that the device includes a supplied cable.

Example Part: FES.570134

I hope this has been helpful for you.

Assigning / Changing Part Numbers

An EPLAN user recently asked me how to change or assign a part number in EPLAN and I thought that I would share my response with you as it may help others.  There are MANY different ways to accomplish this task in EPLAN and the best answer for you will always depend on your particular use case. Get to know all the different methods and then the best solution for your particular instance will reveal itself.

As I said there are MANY different ways to accomplish this task in EPLAN, I will discuss only the most common methods here..my coffee is almost gone.

Assign/Change a part number using Device Selection
EPLAN has a special tool built in that makes it simple to either assign a part number or to exchange a part number. This tool uses information assigned in the parts manager to identify the type of device you have selected and then to filter the parts database to similar items, in particular the product group and the function definition. This means that when you select something like a circuit breaker symbol and then use device selection, EPLAN will filter the parts database and only show you part numbers for circuit breakers, this makes it very easy to find the part number that you want to assign to a symbol.

  • Select a symbol in your design.
  • Double left mouse click to bring up the device properties
  • At the bottom left of the dialog, select [Device Selection]
  • In the main parts window, right click and select Configure
  • Representation to configure the display with the part data that is of interest to you.
  • Select the desired part number to assign
  • Select the BLUE ARROW to assign the part number
  • [OK] to accept the changes

Exchange (Change) Part Numbers
For the typical user changing a part number that has been assigned to a device can be accomplished with several tools built into EPLAN.

At the main menu select: Project Data > Parts/ Devices > Bill of materials navigator. Also note that if you have more than one project open you will need to select the project of interest in the navigator.

You can view the part assignments using either the [TAB] view or the [List] view.

The Bill of materials navigator will present to you a list of all the parts in the current project parts database.

  • Find and select the part number that you wish to change, the tool can “exchange” all instances of a particular part or only the ones that you select.
  • Select a part in the tree view.
  • Double click on the item to expand the selection. As you do you will see the current DT in use (if assigned) and one or more instances.
  • Right Click on the desired part, Select “exchange part” from the menu
  • Select a new part number from the system parts manager
  • [OK] to overwrite the updated part info to the item

Exchange (Change) Several Part Numbers

You can also select a part number in the navigator and exchange all current instances of the part in your project.

  • Find and select the part number that you wish to change, the tool can “exchange” all instances of a particular part or only the ones that you select.
  • Select a part in the tree view.
  • Find the parent part number OR the parent DT that you wish to exchange in the navigator. 
  • Right Click and select “exchange part” from the menu
  • Select a new part number from the system parts manager
  • [OK] to overwrite the updated part info to the item

At the parent DT level the graphical preview can or will display the image of the part that is or was assigned in the parts manager database when this part was added.

I hope that helped you..

Hidden Parts

Just a quick little post here today.

I am creating a new parts library for a customer which often requires a lot of editing of parts properties in the parts manager database. I started to have a problem this morning where parts that I was confident that should be in the database could not be found with a direct search. After several attempts to find the parts I decided to just recreate the part assuming that it was deleted. Upon entering the ERP number for the new part, EPLAN threw a warning that the part already existed. That was my ah-ha moment and I knew what to do, I needed to update the search index of my parts database.

Apparently, the Parts Manager has a search index that references the part instances in the parts database so that you can find the parts quickly. Occasionally it appears that the search index can get out of synch with the parts database and the result is parts that appear to be hidden.

To resolve this EPLAN provides a tool that will manually update the search index to synchronize it with the data in the parts database. Of course, EPLAN should manage this automatically which it usually does, but when you are moving a lot of data around creating new parts, errors can occur.

 To resolve this issue:

  • Open your parts manager
  • Find the Extras Button on the lower right of the dialog
  • Select the menu to reveal your options
  • Select “Update Search Index” from the menu
  • Return to normal operation

EPLAN Videos

Customers often ask me for good sources of information on how to use EPLAN and I always mention that there are quite a few videos available on You Tube. Many of these videos were created by EPLAN employees. If you have any requests for videos, just send me an email and let me know what you would like to see added and I will do my best.

I have begun creating videos myself so please check out my channel for updates. If you have a request for a topic, just send me an email and I will see what I can do.

Here is a list of EPLAN videos that you may find helpful:

EPLAN Video Collections

 Fred Costey

Videos from Multiline Designs

EPLAN Official on YouTube



Roland Younk

EPLAN Canada


Sean Mulherrin

EPLAN P8 Product Manager


Sergio Brinckhaus

EPLAN USA Applications Engineer


Luc Morin – STLM Inc

Independant EPLAN Consultant


ibKastl GmbH

Automation Consultants


EPLAN V2.7 Tutorial


Bill Of Material

Export to Excel (fast version) at 7:00


Data Portal


EPLAN Macros


Macros II


Macros III


Macros IV


Working with PLC’s



PLC Overviews


Translation Module



Default Plot Frame Selection


2D Panel Layout 




Place Holders


Simple Power Circuit


Clip Project Printing



Creating a Custom Menu

Creating a custom menu with icons is easy with EPLAN; if you find yourself digging deep into the standard drop down menus to access frequently used commands you might consider creating a custom menu to simplify your life. Here is an example of how to make a custom menu for a connection definition placement (CDP) or what we call a wire tag or label here in the USA.

Go find a nice collection of 16×16 icons on the internet, (.bmp or .jpg) and save them in your master data image folder or any place that you like.

Create a custom toolbar for saving this new menu icon or add it to an existing menu; I would recommend in most cases just creating a custom menu.
Right click anywhere in the menu header or footer area and select customize from the right click menu
Select the Commands tab

Select Menu from the Categories list, and scroll in the buttons list until you find the desired command
If you did not already notice, the Buttons list displays the exact menu path that you navigate when using the normal drop down menus

In this particular case we are looking for : Project Data > Connections > Numbering > Place
Select this command in the Buttons window and select it with your left mouse button, hold that button and drag it to your toolbar

The “set button” dialog will appear, chose one of those nice 16×16 icons that you downloaded in step 1 and apply it as the “image file”. Eplan will place a small eplan logo by default but once you have more than a few of those its hard to remember what the buttons do which defeats the purpose.
(In the case of a categories: “Action” EPLAN will also allow for you to enter a tool tip.)

Give your new menu a try, add some more..

Custom menus must be saved in a workspace or they will vanish, they can also be “exported” which saves them outside the current project

To delete custom menu element from a menu, have the custom menu editor open and simply drag the icon off the menu and drop it anywhere on the screen that is outside the perimeter of the menu.

The settings for the placement command are found in the project settings:
Projects > [Project Name] > Connections > Connection Numbering > Placement
Two popular options here are: Symbol 308/CDP (the slash) or Symbol 311/CDPNG (no graphic)

If you find that when you manually place these symbols EPLAN wants to place the wrong symbol you can easily change this:
When placing a symbol hit the [backspace] key on your keyboard
Select the desired symbol
[OK] to confirm
EPLAN will now use the new symbol by default

EPLAN Property ID

Occasionally an EPLAN a user will  have the need to display a property on a form that is already available in a schematic or a layout, Many users feel that this task can be simplified with the use of EPLAN Property IDs. Since EPLAN projects are a database file (.edb) it is not surprising that these properties would all have unique IDs. These IDs can also be displayed in the application interface which many users find convenient.

Default display: Without Property IDs enabled Custom display: With Property IDs enabled


To enable the EPLAN Property IDs:

Edit your user settings at the following location:

Options > Settings > User > Display > User Interface: [x] Display Identifying numbers

[x] Display Identifying numbers

The result


Some users may find it a bit confusing to have the properties displayed before the property names so EPLAN has an additional setting that will display the IDs “behind” or after the property names.

Display the Property IDs “behind the name”.
Options > Settings > User > Display > User Interface: [x] Display Identifying numbers
Options > Settings > User > Display > User Interface: [x] Behind the name



Problems when renaming an EPLAN project

EPLAN is typically a VERY stable design tool but occasionally it will do something unexpected.

Problems when renaming an EPLAN project

Probably the most common situation that I encounter (3-4 times a year) is a problem when renaming a project file. When this happens EPLAN will put up some very scary warnings that suggest that the project that you just renamed does not exist or cannot be found!

System Message Info:

Unable to open the project. Open Project (S247027)

On further inspection of the project database file (.edb) you will now get really nervous when you come to realize that the main project folder is essentially empty! There should be a lot more files in that folder!

What Happened?

During the renaming process it appears that EPLAN made a copy of your project file (.edb) with the new project name BUT it did not create a new link file (.elk) for the new project and it nearly emptied the old project file (edb).


Why did this happen?

Sorry..I do not know the exact reason but you probably have a “special character” used in the name of your project.


Please do not use special characters in filename e.g. (Project names)

~ # % & * { } \ : < > ? / | “


Not to worry your project files are still there but for the moment EPLAN can not tell where they are.


How do I fix this?

Make a copy of the old project link (.elk) file

Rename this file (.elk) to match the name of the new project file (edb)

Open the (.elk) file with a text editor

Edit the first line of this file to match the new project name. This is the pointer to the project database.

Save and close the file

Open the new project with EPLAN.

Make a backup!



I strongly suggest that you try to open the project file from inside EPLAN rather than double mouse clicking on the file, double clicking on the elk file MAY give you what you want but it may not.

For users with multiple versions of EPLAN installed concurrently this is a must! I have 4 or 5 different editions of EPLAN installed for various customer and as luck would have it the version that Windows considers the default version IS THE LAST ONE THAT YOU INSTALLED. In my case its EPLAN V2.3 so thats going to causes errors if I just double click on a elk file, to avoid this problem I simply open the file from inside EPLAN.

Have Fun!

Device Navigator Icons

A recent post on the EPLAN forum reminded me that I once had a difficult time understanding the meaning of the icons in the EPLAN navigators. There is a good online resource describing these in the EPLAN help file and there is also a nice laminated card included with the second edition of the Bernd Gischel P8 reference handbook. However, both of these resources assume that you fully understand the meaning of certain key words such as function, auxiliary function and other important terms.

When I started to teach EPLAN classes I realized pretty quickly that I needed to describe this topic in a way that new users would understand, so I created several power point slides for my training class which I have included here as a downloadable PDF.

I hope that it helps you to better understand this important topic, if you would like for me to add anything just send me an email.