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What Are Sheet Specs?

November 22, 2021
7 mins read

What are Sheet Specifications? 

Simply stated, sheet specifications are project specifications that are formatted and placed on one or more drawing sheets. You may hear them referred to as “sheet specs” or “specs on drawings.”

While the practice has existed for years, sheet specifications are growing in popularity for certain types of commercial construction projects – primarily small projects or renovation jobs that don’t require a full project manual.

Why are Sheet Specifications Used? 


Projects with a minimal amount of demolition or construction or a limited number of trades involved might be a candidate for using sheet specs. Sheet specs are a reduced selection of project specifications. They are formatted for placement directly on drawings sheets in preference to publishing a fully bound project manual. Visually sheet specs are more often laid out in a columnar arrangement and focus tightly on the expected qualitative outcome of the project. Sheet specs are no less enforceable than their foundational master guide specifications from where they are derived. All project participants benefit significantly from the relevance, currency, and defined intention that any well-constructed spec delivers. 


Often a sheet spec project might be considered small, not in importance, but in actual area, the square footage, being addressed. Even if the project is intricate or specialized the size being limited makes it a sheet spec prospect because there are still fewer, even if highly detailed, sections to consider for inclusion. 


A narrow scope and focused coverage generally mean less variations in construction issues, product components, and interconnected assemblies. Here again this is not an absolute but when this is the case sheet specs can reflect this simplicity to optimize constructor confidence (and possibly price) to accomplish the work. Also, communication between involved parties is more easily accomplished as the circle participants is smaller and probably less distributed. 


Project design and construction schedules are rarely generous and maximizing successful outcomes on smaller, fast paced projects is even more challenging. Sheet specs are one way to make these types of projects work without compromising quality and stating explicit project result expectations. 


Yes, all documentation must be reviewed for completeness and correctness, but sheet specs often have fewer sections to consider, and the emphasis is put on only essential standards, code compliance, and exacting characteristics of products and systems. This greatly reduces the time spent editing. The circumstance is enhanced further by use of specification programs that already have a “toggle” feature to switch between outline, short-form, and complete section specifications. 

How is Sheet Specification Content Formatted and Placed on Drawings? 


Most building design and construction projects undertaken will be supplied with some form of master guide specification as best defined by the “The CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide.” The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is unquestionably the authority on all things specifying. Their efforts and resources underpin the fundamental organization, defined vocabulary, and written documentation used on building projects worldwide.

Professionals employ OmniClass™, MasterFormat™, and UniFormat™ structures almost universally and the resultant project manuals comprised of 3-Part master guide specifications are recognized by any design and construction professional.   


Sheet specs are simply another (maybe narrower) view into those familiar master guide specifications. More accurately, sheet specs are a particular stylist format of short-form specifications. They are structured for placement directly on project drawing sheets that they most often describe. Short-form specs are themselves derived from comprehensive specification sections that assures continuity. 


The organizational layout of sheet specs is subject to many factors, not least of which is personal or firmwide preference. In general, the outcome will be columnar and continuous. Thus, it is suggested to forgo the traditional Part 1, Part 2, and Part3 labels found in master guide specifications, but retain the basic order of a section for consistency. Plan to retain the appropriate section numbers and titles, then develop the sub-narrative with line numbers that echo what would have been the ‘Parts’ (i.e., 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, . . ., then 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 . . . and so on) and then any sub-paragraph letters (i.e., a, b, c, . . .). Selective use of bold text and limited indentation will aid readability.  


As columns the sheet spec will mostly be anchored tightly to a left gutter (margin) similar to a traditional newspaper. Think about how general notes, various product and finish schedules, and construction details are organized elsewhere in the drawing set to inform the sheet spec approach. Drawing sheet layouts often have some incorporated modularity. This may be just right to accommodate the sheet specs as well.  

Want to learn more?

The ability to generate sheet specs is only one of numerous tools incorporated into SpecLink that can contribute to your success…

SpecLink Cloud now comes with Sheet Specs, making it easier than ever to merge specs with drawing sheets.

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