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In this paper, we present an example-driven symbol recognition algorithm based on its key features in CAD engineering drawings. When user provides an example of a specific symbol, the input symbol is analyzed and its features are extracted automatically. Based on the relation representation, the constrained tree with key feature priority can be established for this type of symbol. By this means, the symbol library can be built and expanded automatically in order to handle variety engineering drawings. In the next stage of the recognition processes, we first locate the key feature nodes in drawings, and then find other elements around which satisfy the topology structure of constrained tree. If all the elements and constrains in the tree are found, the symbol object will be recognized. Because of the accurate position, unnecessary matching calculations are greatly reduced. Experimental results validate that our approach is effective.