Visibility in Revit

Where did my families go?

When it comes to whether or not you can see something in Revit, it can depend on a multitude of things. If something is not visible it can seem like you are in a bad AEC version of Where’s Waldo. The major difference being that your “Waldo” is in fact not visible.

In order to figure out where to start looking, you will need to understand that there is a visibility hierarchy within Revit. In the image below the hierarchy shown may or may not be affecting the visibility of the element(s) you are looking for, 1 is the highest priority and 10 being the lowest priority.

Here is a link to Autodesk’s Help (Knowledge Network) that will explain this hierarchy in greater detail. Help | Element Visibility Override Hierarchy | Autodesk.

Now don’t be alarmed or feel overwhelmed, but now that the hierarchy is out of the way, my current list contains at least 50 different reasons why your “Waldo” has disappeared. Back in the day, some 12+ years ago, this list was started by Dave Jones over at the Revit Forum with “33 reasons why”. Can't see it in the view? Here's 33 reasons maybe why - Revit Forum. Over the years, this list has grown significantly. You may want to check out the forum post link above to see if there is anything that I did not include in my list.

With my current list I have broken down those reasons into 7 distinct groups: Hidden Elements, Visibility/Graphics Overrides, View Ranges/Crops, Modeled Content, Worksets, Links and “Other” for simplicity. Some of these groups expand into other things and I will get into that when I get to those groups. A lot of these groups can overlap with each other and could have a few of the reasons active across those groups making things even more complicated. View Templates, while they are great for controlling views, when they are applied, just add another layer on the hunt for your “Waldo”.

Hidden Elements

One would think that a hidden element is a no brainer to find but there are so many different ways to hide something in Revit.

  1. Waldo or Waldo’s category has Temporary Hide/Isolate applied  
  2. Waldo or Waldo’s category is hidden via right-click --> Hide in View  
  3. Waldo or Waldo’s category has Is Visible unchecked in right-click --> Override Graphics in View  
  4. Waldo is a Mass and Show Mass Form, and Floors has been turned off  
  5. Waldo (such as a Section) is set to Hide at Scales Courser than  
  6. Waldo has linework placed on its edges  
  7. Waldo’s Transparency has been set to 100%  
  8. Waldo is being obscured by another Waldo (model, annotation, etc.)  
  9. Waldo was visible in an Underlay that has been turned off  
  10. Waldo or Waldo’s category has been overridden to match background color  
  11. Waldo’s Object Style has been set to match the background color  
  12. Waldo has been modified in view with the Edit Cut Profile tool  
  13. Waldo is very far away from middle of view, on Zoom to Fit everything disappears

Visibility/Graphics Overrides

Often referred to as VGO for short, these can be controlled within a view and/or through a view template. If a view template is applied, you will also need to verify if a specific section of the VGO is actually being controlled by the view template or is independent of that view. In the image below, everything is grayed out because Model Categories is controlled by the View Template.

  1. Waldo’s category or subcategory is unchecked in the VGO dialog  
  2. Waldo is an import and Show Imported Categories in this View has been unchecked  
  3. Waldo was imported with Current View Only checked, and you are not in that view  
  4. Waldo’s visibility is turned off by a View Filter  
  5. Waldo is an import in a family, and visibility for Imports in Families has been unchecked  
  6. Waldo is in a Revit Link that has been hidden in the view  
  7. Waldo is in a Link that has different By Linked View or Custom visibility settings  
  8. Waldo or Waldo’s category has its Projection Lines overridden to be white
  9. Waldo is miscategorized, refer back to #1 above

View Ranges (Including Plan Regions) and Crops

In the early days of my Revit use I quickly found out that most of my above ceiling MEP Waldo’s were not visible. I discovered that all of the Autodesk provided templates had their view range set to have a top plane of 7’-6”. To this day, most Architect’s still use 7’-6” as the top of their view range. This is why I set my default view range to level above, associated level and adjust as necessary or expand the range with a Plan Region on a project-by-project basis.

1.    Waldo is outside of the view’s View Range  
2.    Waldo is above the Cut Plane in a plan view  
3.    Waldo does not fall within the view’s Far Clip Depth  
4.    Waldo is partially outside the view’s Crop Region  
5.    Waldo is constrained to a Scope Box that is not visible in the view  
6.    Waldo is an annotation not residing completely within the Annotation Crop Region  
7.    Waldo is a grid or section not perfectly parallel to the current view  
8.    Waldo falls within the un-displayed portion of a View Region or Crop Region which has been split

Families, Groups, Parts and Assemblies

Families and groups are primarily what most of us are using but for those rare few that are actually using parts and assemblies in Revit (I commend you, please reach out if you do), part, pun intended, this list is for you.

  1. Waldo is a family, with no geometry set to be visible in the view type  
  2. Waldo is a family, with no geometry set to be visible in the detail level of the view  
  3. Waldo is in a family and set to be not visible by a visibility parameter 
  4. Waldo is a family that consists of 2D linework that is symbolic and not model therefore not visible in 3D
  5. Waldo is a generic annotation family placed in a plan view and is not visible in 3D
  6. Waldo is in a group and has been excluded from the group  
  7. Waldo is a Part, but view is set to Show Original  
  8. Waldo is an Original, from which Parts have been made, but view is set to Show Parts  
  9. Waldo is an Original, from which (orphan) Parts have been made, that has been deleted in a Link  
  10. Waldo is an Original, from which Parts have been made, in an Unloaded or Removed Link  
  11. Waldo is a Part made from a floor at the level of the plan view  
  12. Waldo is a Part which has been Excluded  
  13. Waldo was not specifically added to the Assembly View you are in

Worksets, Phases, Design Options, Disciplines

This is another one of those expanded groups because who wants a list of one.

  1. Waldo is assigned to a workset that is not loaded in the project  
  2. Waldo is assigned to a workset that is turned off in the view  
  3. Waldo’s phase (in project or link) is not visible in the view  
  4. Waldo is part of a Design Option that is not visible in the view  
  5. Waldo is not visible because of the view’s Discipline setting 


  1. Waldo is in a workset that is not loaded in a linked file  
  2. Waldo is in a workset that is not visible in a linked file  
  3. Waldo is in Project A, which is an overlay link in Project B, which is linked into your project 
  4. MEP Spaces are not visible

This is a pretty unique case that I have experienced firsthand, and it is worth a mention, nonetheless. If your MEP spaces are not visible, the linked Architectural model may have a second floor modeled to show floor patterns/material that are checked as room bounded. Revit will place the spaces between the small gap in those modeled floors and they are not taggable. If you get the Architectural team to uncheck room bounding from those extra modeled floors and the spaces will “magically” show up. Similarly, this could happen with walls, but I’ve never experienced that myself.


This category can be construed as a joke by many and a ‘duh’ moment for others. Someone has to ask, and it might as well be me, is there a chance that the Waldo you are trying to find, never actually got placed? I have honestly had that happen on numerous cases to someone I know. Lastly is it possible that someone instead of right-click hide, hit delete instead? In the event that something you are looking for was accidentally deleted and the project is in Autodesk Construction Cloud, you can use the compare functionality in the model viewer provided the model was periodically published.

In conclusion, after going through the list above to find your “Waldo”, did you find him or was he lost forever?

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