How to Make a Ladder Diagram

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A circuit diagram is a basic way to represent the wiring in an electrical system that presents the information in a clear and easy-to-follow structure. As a circuit diagram features straight lines, running parallel or perpendicular to all other lines on the diagram, the final result often looks quite similar to a ladder, earning the diagrams the title of "ladder diagrams." The various components used in electrical circuits each have their own symbols in a ladder diagram.

Draw the line in your diagram using a straight edge to ensure your lines are smooth.

Draw each line so it is parallel or perpendicular to all other lines on the grid. As waves and angled lines are used in symbols for diagrams, it is important that all lines run either north-south or east-west if a compass is laid down on the diagram.

Write "L2" at the grounded end of the circuit being diagrammed, and "L1" at the end the current flows from.

Draw a section of a line as a waving arc to represent a fuse.

Represent a switch with a broken section of line, with a dot on either side of the break and an 45-degree-angled line extending up from the dot on the side the current is flowing from.

Draw three horizontal bars, decreasing in size so the widest bar is on top and the narrowest on the bottom creating a triangular shape, to represent a ground connection.

Draw a spiral in a line to represent a transformer connecting two circuits, opposite a matching spiral on the second circuit and a pair of parallel lines between the two spirals.

Draw a short vertical line with an inverted triangle atop it to represent an antenna.

Remove a small section of line, then close the two ends of the removed section with perpendicular lines for a capacitor.


For additional symbols to use on your ladder diagram, consult the symbol list from ThinkQuest.