We’ve been waiting for it for years and it’s finally here! Well, sorta. Sorry, before I get your hopes up too high, let me tell you that the headline is a little misleading. There are many great new features and improvements in Revit Architecture 2012, but, sad to say, text manipulation and formatting still has a long way to go. So, how can we get our notes and text to wrap into multiple, free flowing columns? It’s pretty easy, once you know the technique.
We Know: Revit is not AutoCAD
If you’re at all like me, you probably hate it when people compare Revit to AutoCAD, i.e. “AutoCAD can do this… why can’t Revit?” It’s generally not very productive to make these comparisons, as these are two very different products. However, when it comes to text, it’s hard not to make comparisons. AutoCAD has made great strides in the last 10 years and now boasts a pretty full featured set of text formatting and manipulation tools that sometimes leaves Revit users envious. After all, MTEXT has given us easy column flow in AutoCAD for some time now. Just click the bottom grip, and, like magic, the text flows into multiple columns.
I understand that Revit is not a Word Processor, and it was never designed to be used to make large amounts of text look pretty. Even so, the fact is that in a typical set of construction documents, there are plenty of sheets that include a ton of notes. Sometimes, a whole sheet is dedicated to General Notes. So, how can we accomplish a multiple column effect? The trick is to create a Key Schedule instead of a Text object. Schedules can be split easily into columns and flow easily.
Here is how to Wrap Text into Columns in Revit:
Name the schedule appropriately, such as GENERAL NOTES, and add the COMMENTS field to it.
Name the headings # and Note, if you like (we’ll hide the headings anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.)
Now, cut and paste each of your notes into its own row. That’s the only tedious part, but getting the column flow flexibility makes it worth it.
If you really want the schedule to look more like notes than a table, turn off the lines.
You get a grip at the bottom very similar to the grip for MTEXT in AutoCAD that can be used to adjust the height of the column. You can continue to break up the schedule into even more columns.
To rejoin columns into a single column, just drag and drop it onto the main text block. Easy! By the way, this technique isn’t exclusive to 2012. It works for 2011 and 2010 as well.
The Future of Revit
So, this is a bit of a hack until we finally get some of those long awaited text tools in Revit. Rest assured, the Factory is not unaware of the current state of Revit’s text tools, and is always working on ways to give users what they need. Not being a hard-core programmer myself, I can’t really talk about what the hold up is, but I do understand enough to know that AutoCAD and Revit are built on very different software platforms, so it’s certainly not as easy as pulling a module of AutoCAD code and slapping it into Revit. Good things take time, and I look forward to the day I can announce that Revit 20xx has had a text formatting overhaul!
Until then, workarounds like this can get us through, and still let us benefit from the vast number of things that Revit really does rock at!