Most overly optimistic track plan sketches result from underestimating the length and overestimating the angles of turnouts. Templates preclude cheating and subsequent disappointment. They can be homemade or commercial.
CAD software ensures precision and produces high-quality printouts. There are several commercial design programs available for those who are willing to invest the time required to become proficient. Modelers who have personal computers may want to consider using CAD software, as the layering, ease of making changes, printouts, and 3-D rendering capabilities make it well worth climbing the steep learning curve.
The second most frequent cause of overly optimistic track plan sketches is improper alignment of the straight (tangent) track with the curves. Again, this can be corrected by using templates that ideally include transition easements between the tangent and constant-radius curve or by using CAD or layout design software.