Where Are My Reference Planes?!


Section View

One of the biggest frustrations for many Revit users is understanding how to control the visibility of objects.  Sometimes things  seem to show up when you don’t want them to and others don’t show up when you do.  I like to think I can solve any visibility issue, but the other day I ran into one that made me really scratch my head.  I couldn’t get any of the reference planes that I drew in section to show up.   I checked every setting and mode that you would expect:  turned on the “Reveal Hidden Elements” mode (the light bulb), made sure Reference Planes were turned on in Visibility Graphics, adjusted the location of the section, recreated the section, changed the view to wireframe mode, I even tested it in a brand new project. None of these attempts fixed my dilemma.  To add to my confusion, I had two Revit models linked into my project and all the reference planes from the linked models were visible.  Revit just would not display any reference plane I personally drew in section.

I then thought to myself maybe it has something to do with my work plane?  Hmmm… but are Reference Planes drawn on a work plane?  The answer is not really, but kind of.  After doing several tests I realized that the actual work plane you have set has nothing to do with the Reference Planes you draw, instead Reference Planes are attached to the 3D extents of your Levels.  Once I realized this it was an easy fix.  All I needed to do was make sure that my levels extended through the section view by dragging the end grips of the Levels in an elevation view through the location of the section.  This problem can be very common for those using Revit MEP or Structure as they will typically start a project by first, linking in another company’s model which, as in this scenario, may come in a good distance away from your typical project origin.

Elevation View

Elevation View

I think we all start to create a mental list of things to check when something doesn’t seem to be displaying in Revit.  Here is my list in order of the most common to the least:

  1. “Reveal Hidden Elements” – Turn on the light bulb icon at the bottom of your screen.  Objects that are temporarily hidden show up in a cyan color and persistently hidden objects display magenta.  Right-Click on the object, select “Unhide in View” and then either “Category” or “Elements” to unhide.
  2. “View Range” – Your objects may not display in a view because the view might not be seeing that far.  Try adjusting the View Range by going to View Properties > View Range.  For more details on view range see the Revit User Guide – View Range
  3. “Discipline” – Each view in Revit can be set to a certain Discipline (ie: Structural, Mechanical, Architectural).  These Disciplines can affect the visibility of objects and will take priority over Visibility Graphic Overrides.  For example, when set to the Structural Discipline a view will not show any architectural walls, only walls set to have a structural usage within it’s properties.
  4. “Annotation Crop Region” –There is an additional region that is enabled by default in section and callout views specifically that allows you to crop annotation objects separately from the model. Many times a user will add text to a section only to have it disappear after typing the text.  To adjust the Annotation Crop Region select the standard Crop Region.  The Annotation Crop should appear as a dashed line beyond the solid line of the standard Crop Region.  Use the blue arrow grips to pull the sides of the Annotation Crop beyond the object that have been cropped.  See also: Revit User Guide – Crop Regions
  5. “Hide at Scales Coarser Than” –Every section or callout has a setting within it’s properties to automatically hide the annotation for the view in all other views with a coarser scale.  The purpose of this is so that I can see the annotation in my floor plans that might be set to 1/8″=1′-0″ but not in anything coarser than that like an overall plan or site plan.
  6. “3D Extents” –For objects like Levels, Grids, Sections, Callouts, and Reference Planes you need to make sure the object you want to see extends through the view range of the view you want to see it in.  For example if you create a wall section in a 10 story project that only shows goes up to the 6th floor you will not see the section line annotation for that section in the 7th through 10th floor plans.

One thought on “Where Are My Reference Planes?!

  1. Great article! You may want to consider adding “Make sure your current workset is not hidden in your view”, because after I went checked everything on your list (Very thorough, though clearly not anticipating a complete lack of brain function on the readers behalf) I thought I was crazy. Then I realized I was on the wrong workset. Switch worksets, and life is beautiful again! Thanks again!

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