GD&T Symbols Simplified: A Comprehensive Guide to Precision

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Precision in engineering and manufacturing is paramount. Professionals rely on a universal language that accurately communicates part specifications and tolerances to achieve this precision. This language of symbols is known as Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, or GD&T. This comprehensive guide will simplify the complex world of GD&T symbols, making precision easy to understand and apply. Whether you’re new to GD&T or seeking a refresher, we’ve got you covered.

Understanding the Basics of GD&T

GD&T is a system of symbols and rules used to describe a part’s nominal geometry and allowable variations. It ensures that when a designer specifies a particular dimension and tolerance, the manufacturer can interpret it correctly, resulting in a part that functions as intended.

The core components of GD&T include:

Tolerance TypeDescriptionGD&T Symbol
Form Tolerances1) StraightnessGD&T Symbol: Straightness
2) FlatnessGD&T Symbol: Flatness
3) CircularityGD&T Symbol: Circularity
4) CylindricityGD&T Symbol: Cylindricity
Profile Tolerances5) Profile of a LineGD&T Symbol: Profile of a Line
6) Profile of a SurfaceGD&T Symbol: Profile of a Surface
Orientation Tolerances7) PerpendicularityGD&T Symbol: Perpendicularity
8) ParallelismGD&T Symbol: Parallelism
9) AngularityGD&T Symbol: Angularity
Location Tolerances10) PositionGD&T Symbol: Position
11) ConcentricityGD&T Symbol: Concentricity
12) SymmetryGD&T Symbol: Symmetry
Runout Tolerances13) Circular RunoutGD&T Symbol: Circular Runout
14) Total Runout:GD&T Symbol: Total Runout

Form Tolerances


Straightness is used to control the form of a linear feature. It ensures that a feature’s elements are perfectly straight..


This symbol controls the form of a flat surface, ensuring it remains perfectly Flat.


Circularity controls the roundness of a cylindrical feature, ensuring it is perfectly circular.


This symbol defines the roundness and straightness of a cylindrical feature, ensuring it conforms to a specified cylindrical tolerance zone.

Profile Tolerances

Profile of a Line

Profile of a Line is used to control the form, orientation, and location of a linear feature. It ensures the part follows a specified path.

Profile of a Surface

This symbol controls the shape and variation of a surface, ensuring it remains within specified boundaries.

Orientation Tolerances


Perpendicularity ensures that a feature’s elements are perpendicular to a specified datum or reference axis.


Parallelism ensures that a feature’s elements parallel a specified datum or reference axis.


Angularity controls the angle between a feature and a datum or reference axis, ensuring it conforms to the specified tolerance.

Location Tolerances


The position symbol specifies the location of a feature relative to a datum or a reference point. It’s used to control both the location and the allowable deviation from the ideal position.


Concentricity controls the central axis of a cylindrical or spherical feature, ensuring it is perfectly aligned with a specified axis.


Symmetry ensures a feature is symmetric about a specified datum or reference axis.

Runout Tolerances

Circular Runout

Circular Runout controls the circularity of a feature while considering its total variation about a specified datum.

Total Runout

Total Runout controls the composite variation of a feature’s form, orientation, and location about a specified datum.

CLICK HERE: GD&T Interview Questions with Answers


Prasannakumar Shankar is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of work experience. In addition, to BE in mechanical engineering, he has an MTech, EMBA, and MS degree (from the State University of New York at Buffalo). He has worked for global multinational companies for the automotive and aerospace sectors in India, USA and Japan.

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