CIRCUIT DESIGN

# Component Designators

## Overview

Component designators are used to identify components both on schematics and PCB’s. They usually consist of a short acronym representing the type of component, followed by unique number to distinguish it from other components of the same type (e.g. R3, R4, C3).

Over the years, many standards have been released that specify particular designator prefixes for component types (such as the IEEE 315-1975). However, many schematics and PCB silkscreen do not strictly follow any standard (although the similarities are usually quite high). The following table shows non-standard specific, commonly used acronyms and the type of component they represent.

Sorted by alphabetic order…

DesignatorImageComponent Type
ASeparate assembly or sub-assembly (e.g. daughter board). I do not see this designator used much in practice (and I myself have never used it, for things such as GPS modules with an LGA footprint I have always used the designator U).
AGND
ANTAntenna. E is also used, however ANT is my personal preference..
BTBattery.
C
Capacitor (both polarised and non-polarised)
D
Diode (standard, Schottky, zener, e.t.c). Note that many different variations on the schematic symbol exist for the different types of diodes.
DGND
EAntenna. ANT is also used (and is my personal preference).
FFuse (wired, electrical, e.t.c). XF is for a fuse holder.
FB
FID
Fiducial.
GND
Common/General Ground (also see AGND and DGND).
JA jack/socket/female connector. Also defined in IEEE 315 as the least moving part of a connector set (which also includes a plug, P).
JPJumper or link (L is for inductor, not link). This maybe a simple piece of wire, a physical jumper component, or perhaps a $$0\Omega$$ resistor).
LInductor
MMotor
MPA mechanical part. This is an umbrella term for many different things, such as screws, standoffs, brackets, e.t.c.
PA plug/male connector. Also defined in IEEE 315 as the most moving part of a connector set (which also includes a jack, J).
PVPhoto-voltaic (aka solar panel).
Q
Transistor (BJT's, MOSFETs, JFET's, e.t.c). Sometimes this is used for an integrated circuit, but I prefer using 'U'.
RResistor.
RNResistor network (more than one resistor in the same package, sometimes sharing a common connection).
SSwitch. SW is also used.
SG
Spark gap.
TTransformer
TPTest point. These may be physical components on the PCB, or just places of exposed copper (e.g. pads, holes or vias).
UIntegrated Circuit (microcontroller, liner voltage regulator, op-amp, e.t.c)
VR
Variable resistor (potentiometer).
WWire/cable.
XC
Timing crystals. XTAL or Y are also used.
XFFuse holder. F is a fuse.
YUsed for crystals or oscillators. XC or XTAL are also used.

## Regex

The regex pattern to match any valid component designator, which is one or more capital letters followed by one or more numerals, is:

^[A-Z][A-Z]*[0-9][0-9]*$ The above pattern also contains the start and end-of-line anchors ^ and $, to enforce that there is no text before or after the designator. These can be removed if desired. More on using regex with component designators can be found on the Altium Scripting page.