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EMC in PCB Design: Best Practices and Tips for EMI Reduction

by | Nov 7, 2023

One of the most important aspects of printed circuit board (PCB) design is electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). It refers to the capacity of electronic products to function without being affected by electromagnetic fields or other devices.

EMC issues can create serious challenges, such as signal interference, data loss, and even system failure. However, these EMC problems can be reduced with the use of proper grounding and shielding procedures. Also, EMC compliance must be taken into account by PCB designers at every stage of the design process, from component selection to routing and layout, for a smooth function.

This post will discuss the significance of EMC in PCB design and offer advice on how to comply with EMC regulations.

What Is EMC?

EMC is an abbreviation for Electromagnetic Compatibility, which refers to an electronic device’s capacity to perform without interfering with or being affected by other devices. EMC is crucial to every electronic system because it guarantees that devices can exist together in the same place without interfering with one another.

EMC Issues In PCB Design

EMC problems in PCB design can arise from a number of causes, including:

1. High-speed signals: These signals have the potential to emit electromagnetic energy/ noise that might obstruct the operation of other PCB components or external devices.

2. Ground and power planes: If not correctly built, these planes can transmit electromagnetic noise and create antennas.

3. Clock signals: These signals have the potential to produce electromagnetic noise that might interfere with nearby devices or other PCB components. Hence, guard and shunt traces are used to protect clock lines.

4. EMI filters: If not properly built, EMI filters can actually increase electromagnetic noise instead of decreasing it.

Component layout, signal routing, ground and power plane design, and EMI filtering are just a few of the variables that PCB designers must take into account to ensure EMC in PCB design.

PCB Design Techniques To Reduce EMI

EMC in PCB Design is crucial for reducing Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). Below are some best practices and tips a PCB designer must consider:

Proper Grounding and Shielding

High-speed digital signals, like those carrying 0/1–2 data, are more prone to emitting electromagnetic noise and interfering with other components. Please pay special attention to their routing and shielding.

Decoupling Capacitors

Use decoupling capacitors effectively to filter out switching noise and provide stable power to components, particularly high-speed digital components.

Power and Ground Planes

Implement power and ground planes for different voltage levels. Isolate power domains to prevent the coupling of noise between them.

Signal Routing

Carefully plan routing for signal to minimize trace width, impedance mismatch, and crosstalk. Use controlled impedance for high-speed signal traces.

Signal Layers

Place critical high-speed signal layers adjacent to the ground plane to facilitate a good return path.

Compliance Testing

Regularly conduct EMC compliance testing to ensure that your PCB design meets industry standards and reduces unwanted electromagnetic emissions.

Analog and Digital Signals

Separate digital and analog circuits on the PCB to reduce interference. Ground loops may be particularly problematic in mixed-signal circuits.

Signal Traces

Keep signal traces short and use differential signaling for high-speed data connections to reduce common-mode EMI.

Excessive Radiated Emissions

Implement proper PCB design techniques to avoid excessive radiated emissions that can lead to EMI issues.

Signal Integrity

Ensure signal integrity by using appropriate trace widths and impedance matching for transmission lines. Pay attention to transmission line design to minimize reflections and impedance mismatches, which can otherwise generate excess RF energy.

Digital Circuits

Shield sensitive components in digital circuits to prevent them from acting as radiating antenna(s).

Ground Loop Management

Prevent ground loops by carefully designing the grounding system and minimizing ground inductance.

High-Frequency Signals

High-frequency signals require special consideration due to their potential to emit electromagnetic radiation. Use appropriate PCB layout and filtering techniques.

EMC Testing

Consider both pre-compliance and formal EMC testing to identify and address EMI issues before and after PCB fabrication.

These are the best practices and tips that PCB designers follow to create PCB layout designs that are more likely to pass EMC compliance testing, reducing the risk of electromagnetic interference and ensuring the proper functioning of electronic circuitry.

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Why EMC in PCB design crucial?

Ways To Avoid EMC Failure

Avoiding electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) failure through proper design practices is crucial to ensure that electronic devices and systems can operate without interfering with each other or being susceptible to interference from external sources. The key steps to follow:

EMC Standards and Regulations

Familiarize yourself with EMC standards and regulations relevant to your industry and region. Common standards include CISPR, IEC, and FCC rules.

Early EMC Consideration

Consider EMC at the beginning of the design process. Waiting until later stages can lead to costly and time-consuming redesigns.

Grounding and Bonding

Proper grounding and bonding of components and subsystems are essential. Use low-impedance connections, minimize ground loops, and maintain a clean, low-resistance ground plane.


Implement effective electromagnetic shielding for sensitive components or subsystems to prevent radiation or susceptibility. Shielding materials may include conductive enclosures, gaskets, or coatings.

Component Selection

Choose EMC-compliant components and materials. Components with low emissions and susceptibility ratings can help reduce unwanted EM emissions and EMC issues.

PCB Layout Design

Pay attention to the layout of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and avoid poor PCB design. Keep high-speed signals away from sensitive components, use proper signal routing techniques, and minimize loop areas to reduce radiated emissions.

Filter and Decouple

Use passive components like ferrite beads, capacitors, and inductors to filter and decouple signals, reducing noise and interference.

EMI Filters

Implement EMI filters to suppress conducted emissions. These can be inserted at the input and output of power supplies or interfaces.

Controlled Impedance

Maintain controlled impedance for high-speed signal traces to prevent signal reflections, crosstalk, and other EMC issues.

Avoid Signal Reflection

Use termination resistors or other techniques to prevent signal reflections and associated EMC issues in transmission lines.

ESD Protection

Implement electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection for sensitive components and interfaces to prevent damage and ensure continued EMC compliance.


Maintain thorough documentation of the design, including schematics, PCB layouts, and EMC test reports that help troubleshoot and verify EMC compliance.

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So far, we have discussed the importance of preventing electromagnetic interference, PCB design guidelines such as decoupling capacitor technique, EMC testing, etc., and best practices and tips to prevent electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) failure. In summary, EMC in PCB design is crucial for ensuring the correct functioning and reliability of electronic devices and systems while complying with legal regulations. Addressing EMI issues early during the design process saves time, money, and effort and contributes to the overall success of your product in the market.

Amulya Sukrutha

Amulya Sukrutha

About the Author

Amulya Sukrutha, passionate computer science engineer specialized in Data science field. I also describe myself as a enthusiastic strength and endurance trainee. I have played professional Tennis during my early years and found my path in Software development and machine learning later. I’m also passionate about creating content, and learning about new technologies.