On Putting the ‘I’ Into Revit, BIM | 01: Getting Rid of ‘Text’

Short on words this month, but long on benefit!

Many folks transition from some old drafting software, maybe even newer (not really, but let’s not argue) surface or nurbs modelers and bootleg Revit® into trying to work with those prior processes, with mixed results at best.

One will, in nearly every case, find that those processes either do not work outright or require a large amount of time, thus waste (if “it” can be helped). Today’s “it” is text. Or as a majority of AEC might pen: TEXT.

The more the text tool is used to call out some aspect of an object that is in the model, the more time and money is being wasted FOR NO GOOD REASON, simply by using text! STOP USING TEXT (for most things).

The following step-by-step is to create a Multi-Category Tag (which, if you don’t have one, you are going to create yourself). I expect it can, will, and should reduce unmanageable, dumb TEXT by 60 percent if used only moderately!

I will show a couple of basic use-case examples, the rest are up to your creativity, dedication, and abilities. We will also assume a basic understanding of modifying and creating Revit families and parameters (shared ones, too).

Why do we want No Text? One reason is that if the information is not embedded into a corresponding object (as long as one exists, lol) it is not BIM. That is called drafting and has no place in Revit or BIM. It is and would be like putting hay into the gas tank of a Ferrari… a little tinge of “well, we’ve always done it that way and it always worked fine fueling the horses” …need I speculate as to how that Ferrari is doing?

So get ready to remove as much dumb-text as you can, fwiw, I hope this helps. Note: I am using the ADSK Sample project, no parameters were harmed (or modified) in the making of this motion picture.

1. Create a Multi-Category Schedule as in Figure 1

  • This will be used later to manage the information(!)

Figure 1

2. File>New>Family>Annotations>Multi Category Tag

  • Create a Label
  1. Include “Comments” (this will pull any object’s Instance Comments. Are you starting to see the power? Yes? No? Anyhow, there’s more…
  2. Set it up to have a Visibility (Yes/No) Parameter as in Figure 2.
  3. Set the alignments for how the information should grow.
  4. Set the preview to however wide you want the note.

Figure 2

  • Create a(nother) Label [Copy/Paste/Change parameters? Hmmm]
  1. Include (or use) “Type Comments” (this will pull any object’s Type Comments).
  2. Set it up to have a Visibility (Yes/No) Parameter similar to Figure 2, but this time make another new Visibility Parameter called “Type Comments” and set this new Label to that.
  3. Set the alignments for how the information should grow.
  4. Set the preview to however wide you want the note.
  • Create two (2) types of this Tag (as in Figures 3 and 4)
  1. Set each to the proper, corresponding Visibility Parameter.

Figure 3

Figure 4

  • Save the Tag.
  • Load it into a project.

Now in the project here are a couple of uses: 1) Open To Above; and 2) an example prescriptive note. See Figure 5.

Once we leverage such tools, we find most “text” goes away now and we are immediately more constructive, efficient, and correct(er) and, although we didn’t revisit the schedule, you in your project will and then you can manage a great deal more object info from one location.

Figure 5

Instance Comments (an example of)—notice the information now lives in that one instance of the ceiling.

Oh, and yeah, that ceiling is called out in Plan! No magic (and certainly no wasteful, dumb lines either)—just using a temporary underlay and the Linework Override tool to get the “hole” in the ceiling above to show.

Type Comments (Figure 6). This illustrates two of the Type Comment Tags placed and one showing the one panel’s Instance Comments Value. To me, this is power over information, to a degree ;)

Figure 6

Finally, the Tag simply reports the parameter’s value(s). It can push the data into the object as well, but once there the data only “lives” in the object.

As a challenge, make one of these that shows three types: Comments, Type Comments, and Both (this will be for extra credit ;)


Jay B Zallan | Virtual Design & Construction Technology Conductor (& Fine Artist) Mr. Zallan brings wide-ranging Design, Delivery, Management, Mentoring and Teaching experiences
to the readily changing AECO industries, founded on an expansive 35 plus year career. Jay has focused on VDC planning, production, process development and research & development; to help enable efficiency-generative creative project execution, delivery and success throughout the AECO landscape. This JayZ is an educator, author and industry lecturer throughout the BIM world; Jz strives to inspire current and future generations to achieve and exceed beyond even their own expectations. Being a Fine Artist (large format oil & mixed media canvases), J adds unique and collaborative insights and perspectives to every team he is part of.

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