© 2021 Autodesk, Inc.
Usage and style

Table of contents

Abbreviations Grandfathered Please and thank you
Academic degrees Headings and subheads Project names
Acronyms Help vs. help to Racially inclusive terminology
Active vs. passive voice Image and photo credits Redline
AEC Industry names Said vs. says
Awards Legal alerts Solution
Blacklist Lets vs. allows and enables Spelling
Bulleted lists Localization considerations State names
Buzzwords Master and slave They
Capitalization Names of people Titles
Collective nouns Notes and tips Up-to-date vs. up to date
Company names Noun strings Using (s) for optional plural
First and second person Pick and choose Whitelist

Abbreviations*

Avoid shortcuts, symbols, and abbreviations that can be spelled out. Do not use Latin abbreviations such as etc., i.e., e.g., and vs.

*Writing for the web? See additional guidance in the Web Editorial Style Guide.

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Academic degrees

Capitalize the name of a degree when it’s treated as a title or it’s abbreviated. There are no periods when abbreviating degrees: MBA, BA, BS, PhD. Use lowercase spelling when a degree and field of study are used generically.

John Johnson, PhD

Mitzi Rose, MFA, led the writing workshop.

He was hoping to use his master’s degree in computer science.

She planned to use her MBA after graduation.

Yes, you can get a job with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Note: When spelled out, note the possessive form of bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

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Acronyms

In body copy

In general, spell out a term on first reference and give its acronym in parentheses:

Virtual reality (VR) is changing how we design, create, and experience everything from factories, buildings, and cars to training, learning, and entertainment.

If an acronym is better known than its spelled-out form, use the acronym first:

When RFIs (requests for information) are captured digitally, significant information is amassed and grows significantly with each new project.

If a term is used only once on a page, do not provide the acronym unless you want readers to become familiar with it for branding or other purposes.

However, always spell out BIM, even if it appears only once on a page. Give the acronym first:

Implementing BIM (Building Information Modeling) can deliver benefits for your business.

Not sure which goes first, the acronym or the full spelling? The Spelling list displays acronyms based on how they should be used on first reference in body copy.

  • An entry like virtual reality (VR) means spell out the term first, and then give the acronym.

  • An entry like BIM (Building Information Modeling) means give the acronym first, and then spell out the term.

In headings and banners

Use either a spelled-out term or an acronym in a heading or a banner (including the introductory copy in a web banner), but not both. Treat the first reference in body copy as the first reference on the page.

Should I spell it out?

Consider your audience. For example, it may not be necessary to spell out API (application programming interface) in copy aimed at developers, or CG (computer graphics) for media and entertainment professionals. But if the copy is being localized, it’s better to spell it out on first reference.

General style

When spelling out an acronym, use title case only for proper nouns.

National Television Standards Committee (NTSC)

integrated development environment (IDE)

To form the plural for most acronyms, use a lowercase s and no apostrophe.

URLs

RFIs

If an acronym is possessive on first reference, spell out the term as possessive but do not make the acronym possessive.

The Open Geospatial Consortium’s (OGC) specification can be downloaded at this website.

If an acronym is plural on first reference, spell out the term as plural and make the acronym plural.

Nonplayer characters (NPCs) are characters controlled by the server or computer.

For acronyms that are Autodesk trademarks, always use them in their adjectival form. Do not use trademarked terms as plurals or possessives.

NO: DWGs

YES: DWG™ technology

For a list of abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms, see www.acronymfinder.com.

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Active vs. passive voice

The Autodesk voice is active. Active voice is more direct and personable than passive voice, which can sound remote and clunky. Recast sentences in active voice whenever possible.

NO: Because most design clients use Autodesk software, a significant amount of time is saved.

YES: Design clients can save time by using Autodesk software.

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AEC

Spell out the term on first reference in body copy, and give the acronym in parentheses.

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Awards

Cite awards as the award-giver does, without quotation marks, and with title case.

In 2006, Raphael won a VES award for Outstanding Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game, one of the highest honors in the CG field.

She’s an Emmy Award-winning animator.

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Blacklist

Do not use blacklist to denote “block” or “prevent access.” Depending on the context of the sentence, use block (blocked, blocking), add … to a blocked list, or blocked list.

NO: This blacklist note causes …

YES: This blocked note causes …

NO: You can blacklist individual users or create groups of users.

YES: You can block individual users or create groups of users.

NO: Server is blacklisted.

YES: Server is blocked.

YES: Server is added to a blocked list.

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Bulleted lists

Bulleted lists are the preferred list form. Use a numbered list when the items follow sequentially, like steps for Help instructions.

Follow these tips for writing lists:

  • Always introduce a list. Use a colon after the introductory text. (Note: If, instead, you use a short heading to introduce a list, do not end the heading with a colon.)
  • Use sentence case.
  • Use parallel construction.
  • Use consistent end punctuation. If one item needs a period, then all items should end with periods. Do not end a bulleted item with a semicolon or a comma. If all items in a list are noun phrases, do not use end punctuation.
  • Use no more than two levels of indentation.

All listings display the following information:

  • Object type
  • X,Y, Z position relative to the current UCS
  • Layer

Easily adjust your view to focus on specific aspects of your work plan:

  • View your plan in List, Gantt, or Swimlane view.
  • Use filters to focus on locations, trades, and scopes of work.
  • Customize layouts to clarify commitments.

Lists with bold introductions

To create a list with a bold introduction, use the following format:

  • Bold introduction—Sentence or two about the item. Note that the bold introduction is sentence case, not title case. Note the use of the em dash followed by a capital letter.

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Buzzwords

Buzzwords are words or phrases that were once effective, but have been rendered meaningless through long-term repetition. They can erode our brand by making copy sound generic and cliché. Buzzwords may also annoy customers and prospects who are looking for information, not marketing language. Pay special attention to the Legal alert column; these words make claims that we can’t support, and should be avoided.

Don’t use Handle with care Legal alert
Cutting edge Award-winning 100%/All/None
De facto standard Ecosystem Accurate
Impactful End-to-end Best
Industrial-strength Innovative Best-in-class
Leverage Intuitive Best-of-breed
Pain point Leading-edge Eliminate
Painless Learning curve Ensure
Paradigm Robust Error-free
Purpose-built Transform Fastest
Revolutionary   Free
Solution   Guarantee
State-of-the-art   Industry-leading
Synergy/synergistic   Industry-standard
Value-added   Open source
Vertical   Perfect
    Precise
    Seamless
    Secure
    Standard
    Streamline
    Unparalleled

See also Legal alerts.

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Capitalization*

We use three styles of capitalization: full capitals, sentence case, and title case. See the Spelling list for questions about individual words.

Full capitals

Avoid using all capital letters except for acronyms.

BIM

MEP

Sentence case

Sentence case is the most common form of capitalization that we use. With sentence case, only the first word and all proper nouns are capitalized. In other words, capitalize the text as if it were a sentence.

In general, do not use ending punctuation, unless the text is in the form of a question.

Stories from the future of making things

Which AutoCAD is right for me?

Title case

With title case, you capitalize the first word, the last word, and all major words in between. Follow these basic rules:

  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions (if, because, as, that). Note: Be sure to capitalize is. It’s a verb.

Autodesk products have been used in movies such as The Mouse That Roared.

  • For hyphenated words, always capitalize the first word and capitalize other words as if they stood alone.

He spoke at the seminar Out-of-the-Box Thinking for Successful Employees.

  • Do not capitalize articles (a, the, an), prepositions of four letters or fewer (with, for, by), coordinate conjunctions of four letters or fewer (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet), and to in an infinitive unless the word is the first or last word in the title, or the first word after a colon or a dash.

Joan Miro completed Still Life with Old Shoe in 1937.

“Because They Wanted To” is a short story by Mary Gaitskill.

*Writing for the web? See additional guidance in the Web Editorial Style Guide.

See also Titles.

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Collective nouns

Collective nouns are words that imply more than one person but are considered singular and take a singular pronoun. Common collective nouns include company, team, group, committee, firm, and class.

NO: CivilX, a civil engineering company, recently celebrated their second anniversary.

YES: CivilX, a civil engineering company, recently celebrated its second anniversary.

NO: The team sent their recommendation to the board.

YES: The team sent its recommendation to the board.

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Company names

When referring to another company, do not include the articles of organization (Inc., LLC, Ltd.) as part of the company name.

Use the pronoun it when referring to a company, not they or their:

NO: Ready At Dawn develops new games by drawing on the inspirations of their employees.

YES: Ready At Dawn develops new games by drawing on the inspirations of its employees.

Note: Autodesk uses commas with Inc.: Autodesk, Inc., is based in San Rafael, CA.

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First and second person

Use first-person plural and second person to speak directly to your audience and maintain a conversational tone.

Second person (you):

AutoCAD includes predefined materials that you can edit using the Materials browser.

Sometimes you may need to initially use the third person to identify a specific audience (for example, to identify the main users of a new product as game designers). Afterward, switch to second person and address the audience as you.

Maya LT software is built for professional indie game makers. Bring your creations to life with game development tools.

When Autodesk is the subject of a sentence, use Autodesk on first reference, then use the first-person plural (we), instead of third-person forms such as the company, the firm, etc.

NO: Autodesk believes global sustainability challenges can be addressed through better design. The company is committed to providing design tools that help its customers create a more sustainable future.

YES: Autodesk believes global sustainability challenges can be addressed through better design. We are committed to providing design tools that help our customers create a more sustainable future.

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Grandfathered

Do not use grandfathered to denote “maintained.” Depending on the context of the sentence, use maintained, maintained at, or allowed to keep. In some cases, you may need to use additional words to promote readability (see brackets in the examples below).

NO: Users who were paying the $300-a-year price will be grandfathered into the old price.

YES: Users who were paying the $300-a-year price will be maintained at the old price.

YES: Users who were paying the $300-a-year price will be allowed to keep the old price.

NO: You have until the launch to subscribe and still get grandfathered.

YES: You have until the launch to subscribe and still maintain [your previous terms.]

YES: You have until the launch to subscribe and still be allowed to keep [your previous terms.]

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Headings and subheads*

Writing headings

A heading should use plain language to communicate a specific benefit to users or highlight a customer’s accomplishments. Follow these guidelines:

  • Do not use marketing jargon, clever wordplay or puns, idioms, or cultural references.

NO: Small firm goes big with BIM

YES: Small firm succeeds with BIM

NO: Power up your design workflows

YES: Improve your design workflows

  • Do not make overpromising claims or use vague descriptions.

The only software designers need

The best tool for the job

Welcome to the future

Transformation is coming

  • Use sentence case.

NO: Generative Design Shapes the Future of Air Travel

YES: Generative design shapes the future of air travel

  • Do not use ending punctuation unless there is:
    • More than one sentence in a heading.
    • A series of words separated by periods.
    • A question. (But think twice about writing a heading as a question. It’s not always the most straightforward choice.)

Only one. AutoCAD.

NO: How does it work?

YES: How it works

  • Use figures.

3 top trends show green-building technology on the rise

  • Capitalize the first word after a colon.

Generative design: Shaping the future of air travel

  • Avoid abbreviations.
  • It’s okay to use acronyms such as BIM, AEC, and VR, but spell them out on first reference in body copy.

*Writing for the web? See additional guidance in the Web Editorial Style Guide.

Writing subheads

Follow these guidelines:

  • Keep subheads short.

  • Use sentence case with no ending punctuation.

NO: Raster-to-Vector Conversion

YES: Raster-to-vector conversion

  • Don’t repeat the words of the subhead in the body copy that immediately follows it.

Raster-to-vector conversion

Raster-to-vector conversion is easy …

  • Avoid having just one subhead under a given heading, or stacking a head and subhead together without any text between them.
  • Make sure the subhead is independent of the text beneath it. In other words, the body copy should make sense on its own.

NO: Raster-to-vector conversion

This task is easy …

YES: Raster-to-vector conversion

Converting raster data to vector format is easy …

  • Do not end a subhead with a colon.

Five BIM frameworks to help your company’s next project:

What does successful BIM implementation look like for building design? Our free white paper explores this topic.

*Writing for the web? See additional guidance in the Web Editorial Style Guide.

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Help vs. help to

Do not add to after help. Although using to is not technically incorrect, it’s unnecessary—and it adds a formal tone to the sentence. Using the verb “help” alone supports SLAP (Speak Like a Person) guidelines.

NO: Collaboration workflows help you to overcome challenges within civil projects.

YES: Collaboration workflows help you overcome challenges within civil projects.

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Image and photo credits

If we don’t own the copyright to an image, the image must be used with the permission of the copyright holder and credited to the source. Use words specified by the copyright holder, edited to our style. Use sentence case with no ending punctuation.

Cover photo by Ansel Adams, courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Images courtesy of AnimaLogic

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Industry names

Industry names use title case and an ampersand. If an industry name includes a list of three or more nouns, do not add a comma before the ampersand.

Architecture, Engineering & Construction

Media & Entertainment

Design & Manufacturing

For generic references to industry names, use lowercase. If an industry name includes a list of three or more nouns, use a serial comma and spell out and.

The architecture, engineering, and construction industry has traditionally been anything but connected.

The studio uses media and entertainment software from a variety of vendors.

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Avoid the use of words such as accurate, ensure, guarantee, eliminate, and secure. Soften such claims with modifiers (for example, helps ensure or more accurate) or choose another word, such as reduce or minimize instead of eliminate. Avoid any claim that an Autodesk product or technology is the industry standard. For more information, see Legal Marketing 101 and the Legal Marketing Toolkit (access required).

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Lets vs. allows and enables

It’s fine to use lets in a sentence instead of longer and sometimes clunkier constructions such as allows, enables, or gives you the capability to. Using lets creates a shorter, friendlier sentence that supports SLAP guidelines.

NO: The Paintbrush tool gives you the capability to create realistic brushstrokes.

NO: The Paintbrush tool allows you to create realistic brushstrokes.

NO: The Paintbrush tool enables you to create realistic brushstrokes.

YES: The Paintbrush tool lets you create realistic brushstrokes.

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Localization considerations

English copy must be easily understood by international customers whose first language is not English. It must also be easy to localize into different languages. For these reasons, we use a style of plain English called global English.

  • Write short sentences. It’s easier to scan and understand in English, and it’s better for localization.
  • Avoid colloquial words and phrases. They may not translate and might be offensive in certain cultures.
  • Avoid noun strings. They’re confusing, difficult to scan, and even more difficult to localize.
  • Spell out acronyms on first use. Acronyms will not be the same in other languages, especially in non-Western alphabet languages.
  • Avoid American-centric references, such as US holidays, or assuming nation and country mean the United States for everyone (as in, XYZ is the largest engineering firm in the nation).

For more examples and details, see the Global writing section of this guide.

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Master and slave

General

Do not use master and slave or master/slave. To denote hierarchy or dependency, use primary/secondary. To denote computing nodes, use head node/compute node.

NO: When defining the contact conditions manually, one body in each contact set is defined as the Master body and the other is defined as the Slave body.

YES: When defining the contact conditions manually, one body in each contact set is defined as the Primary body and the other is defined as the Secondary body.

NO: To configure the cluster, designate the Head Node and the Slave Nodes.

YES: To configure the cluster, designate the Head Node and the Compute Nodes.

M&E content

Do not use master and slave or master/slave. To denote object control, use source/target. To denote “controller,” use driver/driven. To denote “control,” use main/driven or primary/replica.

NO: The Reaction Manager lets you add and delete masters and slaves.

YES: The Reaction Manager lets you add and delete driver objects and driven objects.

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Names of people

After the first reference, refer to a person by his or her last name, not first name.

Andrew Anagnost is President and CEO of Autodesk, Inc. Anagnost began his career at Autodesk in 1997 and has held a wide range of roles in marketing, new business development, product management, and product development.

See also Titles of people.

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Notes and tips

Put the word note or tip in boldface and follow it with a colon.

Note: You must register your product within 30 days.

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Noun strings

Avoid using phrases with many consecutive nouns. Stacking nouns in a long string turns all but the last noun into adjectives, creating a phrase that can be ambiguous or awkward. Noun strings are difficult to scan, and even more difficult to localize.

Inserting prepositions and articles into the phrase can help clarify the meaning:

NO: Convey building site planning concepts within Revit.

YES: Convey the planning concepts for building sites within Revit.

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Pick and choose

To avoid confusing our global audience, do not use this idiom. Just say choose.

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Please and thank you

If you’re asking customers to do something that will help you or the company, use please. If you’re relaying information or giving direction, there’s no need to say please.

Please fill out the form below, and an Autodesk representative will contact you soon.

See the Help page for instructions on installing your software.

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Project names

Use title case for project and building names. Use figures for building addresses, as in 9 Park Avenue, but when a building’s name is its address, the number is often spelled out, as in One Thousand Lake Shore Drive or One Market.

The team was honored for its use of Inventor software to design the Wheelchair for the 21st Century.

The Pearl River Tower was the winning entry in the international design competition.

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Racially inclusive terminology

Our goal is to use racially inclusive language in our products and services. Do not use the following terms: blacklist, grandfathered, master and slave, redline, and whitelist. See the entries below for guidance on appropriate replacement terms.

See Blacklist, Grandfathered, Master and slave, Redline, and Whitelist.

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Redline

Do not use redline to denote “to mark up.” Depending on the context of the sentence, use mark up (verb) or markup (noun, adjective).

NO: Redline and dimension layers are stored in the web cache and are not saved to the database.

YES: Markup and dimension layers are stored in the web cache and are not saved to the database.

NO: Click the View Redline Geometry button to hide the redline geometry.

YES: Click the View Markup Geometry button to hide the markup geometry.

NO: Use redlining to mark up a map with temporary features, text, or symbols for printing or sharing.

YES: Use red lines to mark up a map with temporary features, text, or symbols for printing or sharing.

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Said vs. says

Use the present tense says over the past tense said, unless the speaker is obviously referring to something in the past. Do not use synonyms for says (exclaims, states, reports, etc.) in long-form copy such as customer stories and case studies.

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Solution

Do not use solution (or its plural form) as a synonym for software. Per Legal, use solution only if you’re referring to a product or initiative that includes solution in the proper name.

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Spelling

Use American English spelling. See the Spelling list for questions about individual words.

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State names

Use the two-letter postal code for the names of states, territories, and possessions of the United States.

Lake Bluff, IL, was incorporated in 1895.

Exception: Washington, D.C., is always abbreviated as Washington, DC.

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They

Singular and plural pronoun

When referring to an individual of unspecified gender in the third person, use the singular, gender-neutral “they,” instead of the more awkward “he/she.”

NO: At checkout, the customer should know how much he/she will be required to pay.

YES: At checkout, the customer should know how much they will be required to pay.

If the subject doesn’t have to be singular, it’s also fine to change it to plural.

At checkout, customers should know how much they will be required to pay.

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Titles

Of works (books, movies, videos, etc.)

Use title case and italics for the names of books, magazines, newspapers, plays, movies, videos, games, television shows, webcasts, podcasts, operas, paintings, drawings, statues, and ships.

The Empire Strikes Back

Serial

A Night at the Opera

See the Internet Movie Database for the correct names of movies.

Use title case and quotation marks for the names of stories, articles, poems, songs, television show episodes, webcast episodes, and podcast episodes. (Tip: These are subsets of a larger work.)

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

Exception: Do not use quotation marks if the title is a link or a heading.

Of presentations, white papers, and blogs

Use title case.

Infrastructure Reimagined

Between the Lines

Of people

Use title case if the title appears before the name.

Autodesk Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Jeff Kowalski says …

Use lowercase and set the title off with commas if the title appears after the person’s name.

Jeff Kowalski, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Autodesk, says …

Exception: Use title case for titles of people in pull quotes, captions, and other attributions. Add an em dash before the person’s name. Add a space between the end quotation mark and the em dash, but close up the space between the em dash and the name.

“We work mostly in a 2D space, so AutoCAD LT works very well for us.” —John Doe, President, XWorks

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Up-to-date vs. up to date

The phrase up to date is hyphenated only when it precedes the noun it modifies:

The web page includes an up-to-date calendar.

When it’s used as a predicate adjective (following the noun that it modifies), it’s not hyphenated:

My calendar is up to date.

When it’s used as an adverb, it’s not hyphenated:

Keep up to date with our newsletter.

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Using (s) for optional plural

Do not use (s) to indicate singular or plural. The plural is generally sufficient.

Note that (s) does not localize. Some languages don’t use plurals.

NO: Load the file(s).

YES: Load the files.

OKAY: Load one or more files. (Use only if you need to be specific.)

NO: Make batch edits to the properties of your model(s) in a spreadsheet.

YES: Make batch edits to the properties of your models in a spreadsheet.

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Whitelist

Do not use whitelist to denote “allow access.” Depending on the context of the sentence, use allow (allowed, allowing), add … to an allowed list, or allowed list.

NO: How to whitelist specific URLs or protocols for Autodesk subscription licensing

YES: How to allow specific URLs or protocols for Autodesk subscription licensing

YES: How to add specific URLs or protocols to an allowed list for Autodesk subscription licensing

NO: Add the required whitelist commands to the file.

YES: Add the required allowed commands to the file.

NO: Note the protocol when adding the corresponding domains from the whitelist.

YES: Note the protocol when adding the corresponding domains from the allowed list.

NO: The entire list needs to be whitelisted on the firewall/proxy server.

YES: The entire list needs to be added to an allowed list for the firewall/proxy server.

YES: The entire list needs to be allowed on the firewall/proxy server.

NO: Configure the Proxy Server manually by whitelisting Ports and Domains required by Fusion 360.

YES: Configure the Proxy Server manually by allowing Ports and Domains required by Fusion 360.

YES: Configure the Proxy Server manually by adding Ports and Domains required by Fusion 360 to an allowed list.

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