Addressing Keynotes (in Addition to the CSI Kind)

Custom Keynote Database(s) 

In order to intelligently annotate objects in Autodesk® Revit® and have a list of those annotations be “sheet specific,” we can use the Keynoting tool to add data beyond a tag or, specifically, dumb-text. That’s right—at list of only those objects on the page that are keynoted will appear in the legend. This is what many people (incorrectly, IMHO) call “Sheet Notes,” except those are usually static lists or even a bootlegged Key-Schedule (Schedule Keys).

Keynotes are the schedules (at this time, at least) that will report only those objects that are in views placed onto each individual sheet—automatically. No Dynamo needed [Hint].

The overall workflow to use a custom keynote database (or part thereof [Another Hint]) is to either modify a standard one or create an entirely custom file that would be independent of the CSI formatted file(s) entirely. When the actual, specified assemblies are chosen, then simply either reassign the new keynote value or link up to another keynote database and choose the newly specified key value. Communication with the team is imperative, whatever your choice.

The example below is of a custom keynote database, used for project-specific (schematic) notations.

Figure 1

Figure 2

The example in Figure 2 above illustrates how sub-groupings can be utilized to get logical ordering to the keynotes, such as Demo, RCP, etc. This assists in placing the appropriate type of note to the appropriate objects, in the appropriate view, without having to sift through ungrouped linear lists. 

Figure 3

Note that the text fields must be composed of a single line in the keynote text file itself, but once the Keynote Legend is placed onto a sheet (or sheets), the text wrapping will become a function of the Revit Legend size on sheets (see Figure 3). FWIW, I am not mentioning any keynote editing add-ons, etc. as these are varied and do not change the overall process—just methods of editing, mainly.

Setting Up a Custom Keynote Database

  1. Copy (perhaps) the standard Autodesk Keynote Database file to a project folder. Note: your locations may vary; remember to rename the new text file to be something logical and project specific.
  2. Edit the new text file according to any sub-groupings, numbering, and element descriptions desired (PLAN THIS OUT), TAB-separate each item, per Figures 1 and 2 above. Usually we use Windows Notepad to edit these. No formatting other than “TAB separated” will work (for now?).
  3. Tap into the Keynote Settings (version-specific locations, so use Help if you cannot find yours).
  4. Browse to your project (or whatever) specific .txt file.

Excerpts from a Revit Help Menu:


Keynotes are defined in a tab-delimited text file. The first portion of the text file is reserved for

major headings/categories (the parent values). The remainder of the file is for subheadings/categories (the child values). A tab-delimited file requires the use of the TAB key to create spaces between data entries.

Types of Keynotes:


A keynote can be applied to an entire element, such as a wall, detail component, or door. 


A keynote can be assigned to a material that has been painted on a surface, and to materials assigned to the component layers of an element. Keynotes are not supported for the insulation drafting tool or the detail components line and filled region. 


This option provides a way to use commonly used notes or phrases to address documentation issues. These additional user notes must be added to the provided keynote text files or included in one that you create. Do not apply "User" keynotes for Elements or Materials; only implement User keynotes for generic, repetitive notes.”

Figure 4

Format the text file per the example in Figure 4 and refer to Revit's Help menu for more information (simply search "Keynote”).

Figure 5

Reverting or Changing Keynote Database(s)

If you use a hybrid CSI-And-Custom Keynote file, the following is useful for tracking what exactly needs developing beyond schematic design. If there are two separate sections of the keynote file, one can use shorted codes through Schematic Design (even using a special SD keynote symbol). When design development begins, you will have a really good understanding as to what needs such development. In these cases, when the specification from the CSI parts of the file are chosen to replace the prior SD information (and a CD appropriate symbol is chosen) one will know that it is a good indication that someone thought about this object. Next is verification… ;)


In Closing

Keynotes and Keynote Legends give the most flexibility when used correctly.

Be mindful not to mix and match the dreaded (by some; me included) “User Keynotes” when pointing to actual Elements or Materials (You were warned!) I could go on and on about how bad (in my opinion) User Keynotes can be, but suffice it to say they do not relate to the actual objects and have been known to cause major project headaches, loss of revenue, and lost jobs and employment, too. 

Whatever methods you employ to call out your objects and materials, I highly recommend that they are used, tagged, and keynoted within a specific, well-executed and well-documented plan. 

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