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A schematic, or schematic diagram, is a representation of the elements of a system using abstract, graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures. A schematic usually omits all details that are not relevant to the key information the schematic is intended to convey, and may include oversimplified elements in order to make this essential meaning easier to grasp.


For example, a subway map intended for passengers may represent a subway station with a dot. The dot is not intended to resemble the actual station at all but aims to give the viewer information without unnecessary visual clutter. A schematic diagram of a chemical process uses symbols in place of detailed representations of the vessels, piping, valves, pumps, and other equipment that compose the system, thus emphasizing the functions of the individual elements and the interconnections among them and suppresses their physical details. In an electronic circuit diagram, the layout of the symbols may not look anything like the circuit as it appears in the physical world: instead of representing the way the circuit looks, the schematic aims to capture, on a more general level, the way it works.


Schematics and other types of diagrams, e.g.,

A semi-schematic diagram combines some of the abstraction of a purely schematic diagram with other elements displayed as realistically as possible, for various reasons. It is a compromise between a purely abstract diagram (e.g. the schematic of the Washington Metro) and an exclusively realistic representation (e.g. the corresponding aerial view of Washington).

A semi-schematic map: Tabula Peutingeriana. While roads and features appear as abstract representations without resemblance to reality, their locations, orientations, and distances are as accurate as possible to make the map practical. Part of Tabula Peutingeriana.jpg
A semi-schematic map: Tabula Peutingeriana. While roads and features appear as abstract representations without resemblance to reality, their locations, orientations, and distances are as accurate as possible to make the map practical.

Electrical and electronic industry

In electrical and electronic industry, a schematic diagram is often used to describe the design of equipment. Schematic diagrams are often used for the maintenance and repair of electronic and electromechanical systems. [1] Original schematics were done by hand, using standardized templates or pre-printed adhesive symbols, but today electronic design automation software (EDA or "electrical CAD") is often used.

In electronic design automation, until the 1980s schematics were virtually the only formal representation for circuits. More recently, with the progress of computer technology, other representations were introduced and specialized computer languages were developed, since with the explosive growth of the complexity of electronic circuits, traditional schematics are becoming less practical. For example, hardware description languages are indispensable for modern digital circuit design.

Schematics for electronic circuits are prepared by designers using EDA (electronic design automation) tools called schematic capture tools or schematic entry tools. These tools go beyond simple drawing of devices and connections. Usually they are integrated into the whole design flow and linked to other EDA tools for verification and simulation of the circuit under design.

Programmable logic controllers (PLC) can be programmed using ladder diagrams.

In electric power systems design, a schematic drawing called a one-linediagram is frequently used to represent substations, distribution systems or even whole electrical power grids. These diagrams simplify and compress the details that would be repeated on each phase of a three-phase system, showing only one element instead of three. Electrical diagrams for switchgear often have common device functions designate by standard function numbers. Another type of diagram used for power systems is a three-line diagram.

For analysis purposes of a power system, from the one-line diagram, if the system is balanced, an equivalent per-phase (or single-phase) schematic diagram can be obtained. If all of the parameters are represented as impedances and voltage sources, the equivalent per-phase schematic diagram is called an impedance diagram. If all of the parameters are represented as admittances and current sources, the equivalent per-phase schematic diagram is called an admittance diagram.

If the power system is unbalanced, but it is linear (or can be approximated by a linear system), then Fortescue's theorem (symmetrical components) can be applied. In this way, from the one-line diagram, three different per-phase schematic diagrams are obtained, known as sequence diagrams: positive sequence diagram, negative sequence diagram, and zero sequence diagram. Each of these diagrams can be represented as an impedance diagram or as an admittance diagram.

Schematics in repair manuals

Schematic diagrams are used extensively in repair manuals to help users understand the interconnections of parts, and to provide graphical instruction to assist in dismantling and rebuilding mechanical assemblies. Many automotive and motorcycle repair manuals devote a significant number of pages to schematic diagrams.

See also

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Electrical network Assemblage of connected electrical elements

An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical components or a model of such an interconnection, consisting of electrical elements. An electrical circuit is a network consisting of a closed loop, giving a return path for the current. Linear electrical networks, a special type consisting only of sources, linear lumped elements, and linear distributed elements, have the property that signals are linearly superimposable. They are thus more easily analyzed, using powerful frequency domain methods such as Laplace transforms, to determine DC response, AC response, and transient response.

Electronic design automation (EDA), also referred to as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD), is a category of software tools for designing electronic systems such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. The tools work together in a design flow that chip designers use to design and analyze entire semiconductor chips. Since a modern semiconductor chip can have billions of components, EDA tools are essential for their design; this article in particular describes EDA specifically with respect to integrated circuits (ICs).

In electrical engineering, admittance is a measure of how easily a circuit or device will allow a current to flow. It is defined as the reciprocal of impedance, analogous to how conductance & resistance are defined. The SI unit of admittance is the siemens ; the older, synonymous unit is mho, and its symbol is ℧. Oliver Heaviside coined the term admittance in December 1887.

Gyrator Two-port electrical network element

A gyrator is a passive, linear, lossless, two-port electrical network element proposed in 1948 by Bernard D. H. Tellegen as a hypothetical fifth linear element after the resistor, capacitor, inductor and ideal transformer. Unlike the four conventional elements, the gyrator is non-reciprocal. Gyrators permit network realizations of two-(or-more)-port devices which cannot be realized with just the conventional four elements. In particular, gyrators make possible network realizations of isolators and circulators. Gyrators do not however change the range of one-port devices that can be realized. Although the gyrator was conceived as a fifth linear element, its adoption makes both the ideal transformer and either the capacitor or inductor redundant. Thus the number of necessary linear elements is in fact reduced to three. Circuits that function as gyrators can be built with transistors and op-amps using feedback.

Smith chart

The Smith chart, invented by Phillip H. Smith (1905–1987) and independently by Mizuhashi Tosaku, is a graphical calculator or nomogram designed for electrical and electronics engineers specializing in radio frequency (RF) engineering to assist in solving problems with transmission lines and matching circuits. The Smith chart can be used to simultaneously display multiple parameters including impedances, admittances, reflection coefficients, scattering parameters, noise figure circles, constant gain contours and regions for unconditional stability, including mechanical vibrations analysis. The Smith chart is most frequently used at or within the unity radius region. However, the remainder is still mathematically relevant, being used, for example, in oscillator design and stability analysis. While the use of paper Smith charts for solving the complex mathematics involved in matching problems has been largely replaced by software based methods, the Smith chart is still a very useful method of showing how RF parameters behave at one or more frequencies, an alternative to using tabular information. Thus most RF circuit analysis software includes a Smith chart option for the display of results and all but the simplest impedance measuring instruments can plot measured results on a Smith chart display.

Circuit diagram Graphical representation of an electrical circuit

A circuit diagram is a graphical representation of an electrical circuit. A pictorial circuit diagram uses simple images of components, while a schematic diagram shows the components and interconnections of the circuit using standardized symbolic representations. The presentation of the interconnections between circuit components in the schematic diagram does not necessarily correspond to the physical arrangements in the finished device.

Input impedance

The input impedance of an electrical network is the measure of the opposition to current (impedance), both static (resistance) and dynamic (reactance), into the load network that is external to the electrical source. The input admittance (1/impedance) is a measure of the load's propensity to draw current. The source network is the portion of the network that transmits power, and the load network is the portion of the network that consumes power.

Single-line diagram

In power engineering, a single-line diagram (SLD), also sometimes called one-line diagram, is a simplified notation for representing a three-phase power system.


CADSTAR is a Windows-based electronic design automation (EDA) software tool for designing and creating schematic diagrams and printed circuit boards (PCBs). It provides engineers with a tool for designing simple or complex, multilayer PCBs. CADSTAR spans schematic capture, variant management, placement, automatic and high-speed routing, signal integrity, power integrity, EMC analysis, design rule checks and production of manufacturing data.

Standard cell

In semiconductor design, standard cell methodology is a method of designing application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) with mostly digital-logic features. Standard cell methodology is an example of design abstraction, whereby a low-level very-large-scale integration (VLSI) layout is encapsulated into an abstract logic representation. Cell-based methodology — the general class to which standard cells belong — makes it possible for one designer to focus on the high-level aspect of digital design, while another designer focuses on the implementation (physical) aspect. Along with semiconductor manufacturing advances, standard cell methodology has helped designers scale ASICs from comparatively simple single-function ICs, to complex multi-million gate system-on-a-chip (SoC) devices.

OrCAD Electronic design automation software

OrCAD Systems Corporation was a software company that made OrCAD, a proprietary software tool suite used primarily for electronic design automation (EDA). The software is used mainly by electronic design engineers and electronic technicians to create electronic schematics, perform mixed-signal simulation and electronic prints for manufacturing printed circuit boards. OrCAD was taken over by Cadence Design Systems in 1999 and was integrated with Cadence Allegro since 2005.

The process of circuit design can cover systems ranging from complex electronic systems all the way down to the individual transistors within an integrated circuit. For simple circuits the design process can often be done by one person without needing a planned or structured design process, but for more complex designs, teams of designers following a systematic approach with intelligently guided computer simulation are becoming increasingly common. In integrated circuit design automation, the term "circuit design" often refers to the step of the design cycle which outputs the schematics of the integrated circuit. Typically this is the step between logic design and physical design.


XCircuit is a Unix/X11 and Windows program for drawing publication-quality electrical circuit schematic diagrams and related figures and the production of circuit netlists through schematic capture. XCircuit regards circuits as inherently hierarchical and writes both PostScript output and hierarchical SPICE netlists. Circuit components are saved in and retrieved from libraries which are fully editable. XCircuit does not separate artistic expression from circuit drawing; it maintains flexibility in style without compromising the power of schematic capture.

In power engineering, nodal admittance matrix or Y Matrix or Ybus is an N x N matrix describing a linear power system with N buses. It represents the nodal admittance of the buses in a power system. In realistic systems which contain thousands of buses, the Y matrix is quite sparse. Each bus in a real power system is usually connected to only a few other buses through the transmission lines. The Y Matrix is also one of the data requirements needed to formulate a power flow study.

The Layout Versus Schematic (LVS) is the class of electronic design automation (EDA) verification software that determines whether a particular integrated circuit layout corresponds to the original schematic or circuit diagram of the design.

Electronic circuit

An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. To be referred to as electronic, rather than electrical, generally at least one active component must be present. The combination of components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed: signals can be amplified, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.

Wiring diagram Simplified conventional pictorial representation of an electrical circuit

A wiring diagram is a simplified conventional pictorial representation of an electrical circuit. It shows the components of the circuit as simplified shapes, and the power and signal connections between the devices.

Commensurate line circuit

Commensurate line circuits are electrical circuits composed of transmission lines that are all the same length; commonly one-eighth of a wavelength. Lumped element circuits can be directly converted to distributed-element circuits of this form by the use of Richards' transformation. This transformation has a particularly simple result; inductors are replaced with transmission lines terminated in short-circuits and capacitors are replaced with lines terminated in open-circuits. Commensurate line theory is particularly useful for designing distributed-element filters for use at microwave frequencies.

Electronic engineering Electrical engineering involved in the design of electronic circuits, devices, and their systems

Electronic engineering is an electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, integrated circuits and their systems. The discipline typically also designs passive electrical components, usually based on printed circuit boards.

Mechanical–electrical analogies are the representation of mechanical systems as electrical networks. At first, such analogies were used in reverse to help explain electrical phenomena in familiar mechanical terms. James Clerk Maxwell introduced analogies of this sort in the 19th century. However, as electrical network analysis matured it was found that certain mechanical problems could more easily be solved through an electrical analogy. Theoretical developments in the electrical domain that were particularly useful were the representation of an electrical network as an abstract topological diagram using the lumped element model and the ability of network analysis to synthesise a network to meet a prescribed frequency function.


  1. Thomas E. French, Charles J. Vierck (1975). Engineering Drawing and Graphic Technology, Eleventh Edition. McGraw Hill. ISBN   0-07-022157-X. pp. 621–624.