Customizing the Graphical Column Schedule

The structural tools in Autodesk® Revit® have some quirks not found within the other disciplines in Revit. One of those is the graphical column schedule. You can create a graphical column schedule from the View ribbon, in the Schedules drop-down, but it will appear under Views in the Project Browser instead of in Schedules/Quantities. And typically, model elements do not appear in schedules, but actual columns do appear in graphical column schedules. Therefore, graphical column schedules really are unique.

Structural columns are identified in graphical column schedules by intersecting grid lines and by their top and bottom constraints and offsets. Architectural columns do not display in these schedules, nor do any other model elements, for that matter. The columns in these schedules are viewed from the south.

Graphical column schedules are system families in Revit and have instance and type parameters. Typically, there is not a great deal of customization with system families in Revit. However, graphical column schedules are unique, and there are several methods you can use to customize them to fit the needs of your project. For example, you can control which levels and structural columns appear, you can adjust the size of rows and columns, you can adjust the appearance of the grid lines and text, and you can add symbols for column splices and baseplates. Oh, and you can tag the columns inside the schedule. So yeah, graphical column schedules do not behave like other schedules at all!

Controlling Levels

One of the first things you should do with a graphical column schedule is adjust the levels shown. Often in a building project, several levels are created for the various needs of the project. However, it is likely that not all of them need to be shown in the graphical columns schedule. When a graphical column schedule is the active view, the instance properties appear in the Properties palette.

To control the levels, scroll down to the Other grouping. Here, you can set the Top Level and the Bottom Level. The default levels used are the highest and lowest, respectively (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

To control the levels that are visible in the graphical column schedule, click Edit… next to Hidden Levels. This opens the Levels Hidden in Graphical Column Schedules dialog. So technically, you are specifying the levels that are hidden. To hide a level from the schedule, simply select it in the list.

Removing Columns

In addition to having unwanted levels in a graphical column schedule, you may have unwanted columns as well. To take care of these, simply select them and hide them in the view. You can select columns in a graphical column schedule the same way you can in an elevation or section view. Then, once the columns you want to hide are selected, right-click and select Hide in View > Elements (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Showing Off-Grid Columns

To include off-grid columns in the graphical column schedule, simply select Include Off-Grid Columns in the Properties palette. Then you can control the Off-Grid Units Format. This is important because the column locations for off-grid columns will display with the distance to the nearest grid (see Figure 3).

Figure 3

Adjusting Row and Column Sizes

To adjust the width and height of rows and columns, you need to open the Graphical Column Schedule Properties dialog. The sizes cannot be adjusted by dragging the grid lines in a graphical column schedule. In the Properties palette, click Edit… next to Grid Appearance to open this dialog. On the Grid Appearance tab, there are two areas: Horizontal Widths and Vertical Heights.

In the Horizontal Widths area, you can control the width for the columns containing the structural columns (For Column Locations:) as well as the width for the column containing the level names (For Level Names:).

In the Vertical Heights area, you can control the row height for the row above the top level (Above Top Level:) and the row below the bottom level (Below Bottom Level:). You can also specify the distance between schedule segments (Between Segments:) for instances where there are multiple segments in the schedule (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

Adjusting the Line Style of Grid Lines

There are no instance parameters for graphical column schedules to control the line style of the grid lines. These lines are controlled by the Thin Lines style in Revit. This line style is controlled in the Lines Styles dialog for the entire Revit project. In other words, if you modify the style in the Line Styles dialog, it will update everywhere that line style is used.

To adjust the line style for just the graphical column schedule grid lines, you can open the Visibility/Graphic Overrides dialog for the view. Then on the Model Categories tab, expand the Lines category and adjust the settings for Thin Lines. You can control the line weight, line color, and line pattern.

Controlling Text Appearance

In the Properties palette, click Edit… next to Text Appearance. This opens the Graphical Column Schedule Properties dialog to the Text Appearance tab. Here, you can control the Title text, Level text, and the text used for the Column Location. You can specify the text font, size, and additional text attributes, such as Bold, Italic, and Underline (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Adding Annotation Symbols for Splices

You can use annotation symbols to show splices in graphical column schedules. The process is similar to the method of showing structural framing symbols in a plan view. Essentially, the connection symbols created in the Structural Settings dialog will be available for selection for the structural column parameters.

In the Structural Settings dialog, there is a Connection Symbols area. When you expand the “Display Symbols for:” drop-down, you can select Beams and Braces, Column Base, or Column Top. Depending on the situation and symbols you use, you can create a connection symbol for both, or just one end. With the desired end selected in the drop-down, click New. This opens the New Connection Type dialog. Enter an appropriate name for the Connection Type: and then you can select a loaded connection symbol family in the “Annotation Symbol:” drop-down (see Figure 6).

Figure 6

As a side note, you can create your own connection symbol families, if needed. An easy way is to start with the Generic Annotation family template and then change the Family Category to Connection Symbols.

Once you have connection symbols created in the Structural Settings dialog, you can select them for either the Top Connection or Base Connection parameter for structural columns. Take note that these are instance parameters for columns (see Figure 7).

Figure 7

Finally, you can control the distance between the columns in the Structural Settings dialog in the Symbolic Cutback Distance area (see Figure 8).

Figure 8

Adding Information

You can add text, tags, keynotes, spot elevations, spot coordinates, and spot slopes to graphical column schedules. While all of these are great methods to add information (except non-parametric text), tags are really a great way to add customization to a graphical column schedule. You can use shared parameters to create column families, and then add those shared parameters to labels in tags.

A great example is adding baseplate information to a graphical column schedule. You can create an extrusion in a column family to represent a baseplate. Make sure to use reference planes to control the extrusion geometry, and then dimension the reference planes. After that, you can assign a shared parameter to the dimension so the parameter will drive the dimension. Lastly, add the same shared parameter to a label in a tag family. Then you can tag the column in the graphical column schedule and have the information display.

Along those lines, you can add shared parameters to the column families to input information such as the number of bolts and bolt diameter. These parameters would not be associated with any geometry. You could then add them to tags to display this additional information in the graphical column schedule.


If you use graphical column schedules in your projects, you should spend some time going through these methods to customize your schedules. It is important that the correct information is displayed, and that it is displayed the way you want. These methods can help you achieve both! And, on a final note, once you have the graphical column schedules configured the way you want, save it as a view template.

Jason Boehning is the Building Content Manager for all BIM and architectural CADLearning products from 4D Technologies, driving BIM content and developing on-demand learning material for Autodesk software, including Revit and Dynamo. He is also a repeat speaker at RTC North America and Autodesk University. 

Marcello Sgambelluri currently serves as the Building Information Modeling (BIM) director at John A. Martin & Associates Structural Engineers in Los Angeles, California. Sgambelluri has worked on many BIM projects over the last 18 years as a project manager, design engineer, and BIM director.

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