Using the ‘Normal To’ Command – A Neat Orientation Trick

This question came up during one of our classes regarding model orientation. The challenge was to orient a model normal to a face but not have the view orientation use default “Y” orientation for that face.

There’s actually a very simple solution once you know the trick. Simply put, select 2 faces instead of 1 face for the Normal To command! The first face selected will be the face rotated to normal and the second face will define the top of the view orientation.

For example, selecting the face of the model shown and choosing Normal To ends up with the following view orientation:

Model with "Normal To" command highlighted


We can control the top of the view orientation with Normal To if we select the normal to face first, then CTRL-select a second face to designate the top for the orientation, as seen:

1st section, and CTRL-select for 2nd Selection

Another angle of the model

Here’s another example where we control which side is “up” for our Normal To view:

1st Selection with "Normal To" command highlighted, and CRTL-select 2nd section

Model orientated in the desired view

Neat trick isn’t it? This can be especially valuable when defining Named Views in a model to use in a drawing. I hope you find it useful in your day-to-day SOLIDWORKS routine!

This blog is authored by John Setzer, GSC’s Training Product Manager. John discovered his love of teaching early in life. He worked his way through college as a youth coach, umpire, and referee before earning his bachelor’s degree in education. As Training Manager at GSC, he has been sharing his SOLIDWORKS wisdom with GSC customers ever since – over 20 years! John is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE), a Certified SOLIDWORKS Instructor, and a Certified SOLIDWORKS Technician. As the only CSWE with a state certification in teaching, John is well-versed is teaching all types of learning styles. John is a regular contributor to the GSC blog, available at

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