My first schematic; how's my hierarchical convention looking?

Just getting the hang of using labels, I’d love to hear any feedback you may have.
Image on the left is of the main sheet, images on the right are of the input & output pins in one of several subsheets.

Thank you

First, welcome to the KiCad forum :slight_smile:

There is not much to write about your screenshots, except maybe that you already seem to overuse labels. Labels can be a great help, but for lots of things drawing a wire is a better option. With labels you always have to search for other occurences, and it’s hard to be sure whether it’s used anywhere else.

Also, be aware of the difference between the three (or 4 in KiCad V7) label types. Global labels are connected on all sheets in a hierarchical design.

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Thanks Paul!

Okay would it be cleaner to make the power flag connections at the top invisible?

I was debating showing the global 12V_NOM label connecting to the 12V Converter on the main sheet, since I could just add that label in the subsheet, but I wanted the schematic to be clear right away from the main sheet.

Have more faith in yourself.
Continue on your project until you have more to show and there is more to discuss. then maybe upload your project for a review (that’s much easier then working from screenshots).

Your first handful of projects are never going to be perfect, and don’t try to do everything at once. First focus on learning KiCad, things like what sort of functions there are and how they work and interact with each other. Making a handful of “dummy” projects or other small projects are good for this. And then later, maybe in your 3rd or 5th project, pay more attention to details and getting the aesthetics of a schematic right.

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Onwards I go! Thank you, I’m definitely getting bogged down in aesthetics right now. As long as it works, I’m happy.


I don’t like it at all. It’s hard to read and leads to endless searching for labels on a large schematic. Annoying, time-wasting and error prone (“Did I find all the labels or did I miss one?”).
The main use of global labels is to enter or exit a schematic sheet. Later on you can extend this to other purposes.
For the time being, use connections (lines and buses). They’re easy to follow and it’s obvious where they join or branch off.

Schematics are for maximum readability and clarity in communicating how a circuit works.

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In my opinion, you are not doing yourself any benefit using the descriptive reference designators. There is no need to add the label to the power flag; the power flag could simply be put near the battery. And, the label would be easier to read if it was rotated like normal text.

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I don’t use any kind of labels in such place like you use 12V_NOM. I use power symbols (added to schematic by pressing P and then selecting from Power symbol library - like VCC). But I use one sheet schematics and your concern is mainly about hierarchical - may be in hierarchy Labels have some benefits over power symbols - I simply don’t know.

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While I agree that tracing where labels go can be problematic, I would not draw a ratsnest of wires to connect every broken-out bus to this micro, as this example is perfectly understandable to me:

I use buses between sheets and they clean things up nicely, making my top-level schematic a tidy block diagram. Besides global power symbols, I never use global labels (they are hard to trace and ugly to boot). I don’t have any power-flag clutter since I don’t bother with erc.

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Thank you for the solid input everyone! I’ll focus more on lines and busses, and read more about power flags.


For me, I try to avoid hierarchical schematic whenever possible. I have a A0 size design-jet but also normal laser printers are ok to print A3 schematic to A4 reduced. There are about a dozen of rules to do and not to do with schematics. To understand this, I recommend the video about schematics of @devbisme what is here: "Schematics: The Heroin Of Electronics Design" - Dave Vandenbout (KiCon 2019) - YouTube

After watching the video you will see, that not using hierarachical schematic is one of the rules for maximum clarity with minimum efforts.

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from my personal experience I would highly contest this claim. for me a block diagram oriented main sheet has much more value to give an overview about the separate functions and parts of the schematic as a main sheet where every component is present.

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This is a personal opinion and discussions about are as futile as you ask a pianist for changing its instrument with a trumpet. Only be aware for the significant differences are and then find your own style of what you like.


No it’s not. I really appreciate the Idea of SKiDL, but it’s not fit for the sort of work I do, schematics and hierarchical schematics work much better for me.

I find this a bad analogy. If you want to keep it up, then it seems you are the pianist and disliking the trumpet.

Schematics are the standard for electronic design and they work quite well, and depening on your project, hierarchical schematics work quite well to. I also used to use an A3 sheet and printed it on A4. I find A4 just a tad too small for a schematic, while I see not much use in going over A3. If it does not fit on an A3 sheet, then dividing your circuit into logical sections is probably becoming a better option.

Even for a relatively simple microcontroller project, moving the power supply section and decoupling capacitors to a separate sheet can clean up the main sheet a lot. Trying to cram everything on a single sheet of paper is one of the first roadblocks you have to un-learn when your schematics get beyond a certain complexity.

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In my opinion you are right if each block is enough complicated to be difficult to see what is a part of this block and what is not. In such case if block is at separate picture then it helps to identify what are the parts of this block. But I think in many cases blocks are so simple that even when they are at single page you see what is what.
For example devices I design have blocks like:

  • central unit - microcontroller + quartz + few capacitors,
  • flash memory block - one IC (+ capacitor) connected to bus,
  • serial EEPROM block - one IC (+capacitor) connected to bus,
  • RTC - IC in its standard application (+ quartz, capacitors, supercup+diode) connected to bus,
  • RS485 interface - RS485 driver connected to bus + few protection elements,
  • RFID reader - one IC in its standard application connected to bus,
  • Ethernet interface - one IC + some passives (standard application) and socket with trafo in it,
  • LCD display - graphic display+capacitor connected to bus,
  • relay output - R + npn + diode + relay
  • power supply - diode, CLC filer, one DCDC IC in its standard application (L, few R and C)

You can distribute it at separate pictures, but if you are able to have them all at one picture having each block with enough distance from others …

Did not link the video because of SKiDL but only to show the problems what emerge with increasing complexity of the schematic. The project of the TO seems a beginners project what is not that complex

while I see not much use in going over A3.

probably you never had the possiblity to use a printer for bigger sheets. Luckily Kicad supports this.
The only disadvantage is to learn how to fold the paper down to A4 to fit in a A4 folder in the shelf.
(There is a DIN rule about fold and punch sequences). In the time I worked as a volunteer with the copy shop at the campus, I had enough practice and making the copies of the class examinations was a highly popular job

my software developers would kill me as they could not read the individual sections as clearly as with the block-approach where every input, output and config is clearly defined.

in the end it is true what @janvi said before: it is mostly a question of personal preferences, scope of project, procedures where the schematic is used in and so on and so there is not the one way to do it. in his first post it sounded like he presented “the one way” and I just wanted to give contrast here.

It would have been better to stop there.
There is no use in overloading beginners with the complexity of things they don’t need yet.

One benefit of using (hierarchical) labels for power instead of power symbols is that you can easily identify on the root/parent sheet which building blocks consume what power rails.
This can be used as a warning sign if you e.g. take an output from a hierarchical sheet that consumes 5V and connect it to an input of a 3V device/sheet.

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