I find the phrase "makes drawing operations snap into place" confusing in the following sentence (which is unfortunately not available online):

Generally, I prefer to work with a coarse grid that makes drawing operations snap into place.

Here a software developer is sharing his icon-making (icons include recycle, camera iris, heart) tips using the app Affinity Designer that is used by designers, artists and creatives. In a preceding sentence, the developer suggests to set up a 160-by-160-pixel work area in the app.

I came across the concept of snapping on the Internet. However, I am not sure how does it connect to the said phrase.

Can the said phrase be changed to a simpler or clearer text? This is a very technical thing and I really cannot think of another way to express this phrase.

The text describes many features of the node tool. I am not sure if this tool has any snapping feature. Is it possible that "snap" is used in a more general sense here?

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    I'd guess the cited usage is a weak "pun", playing on the fact that idiomatic snap / fall into place (happen or settle into some arrangement quickly / naturally to produce a situation you want) was around long before it acquired a highly specific sense in the context of CAD drawing software and similar. Oct 31, 2019 at 17:16
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    In engineering, if two parts, meant to be fitted together, are made with enough precision, when they are mated together, they can snap together audibly. Sometimes 'snap-fit' components are made of springy plastic and they make a snapping sound when fitted into place. Oct 31, 2019 at 17:49
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    Sometimes you see "snap to a grid" when you drag something with the mouse, and it will snap to the nearest grid alignment when you drop it. The coarser the grid, the fewer places it can be dropped, and the easier to align. Oct 31, 2019 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


This is a usage specific to software, and is usually referred to as "snap-to-grid".

It means that objects, points, lines, etc, cannot be placed freely at whatever random co-ordinates the user desires, but that they will "snap" to the nearest grid vertex.

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    This is my read as well. It's especially prevalent in graphic software.
    – David M
    Oct 31, 2019 at 21:53

I find it an imprecise, or possibly just wrong phrase grammatically. Things "snap into place." Nouns, whether physical like two puzzle pieces, or representative like two ideas that mesh together well. In this case "drawing operations" sounds like a verbal phrase, which is not something I can comprehend "snapping into place." However if "drawing operations" is a noun phrase (like is it the act of drawing operations, or is it a class of operations related to drawing?) it could make some sense, but it's still a bit unusual.

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