Re-associating Civil 3D Labels to Different Parent Objects (Workflow For Recreating D-Refs Without Losing Labels)

Civil 3D 2015 and 2016 both have the ability to re-associate labels to different parent objects. What exactly does this mean? Let’s discuss a specific example. What if you went into a drawing that someone had worked on and discovered that all of the station and offset labels that they put into the drawing were actually referencing the wrong alignment? Even worse, have you ever had a data reference go bad on you and then, you wanted to simply recreate it, but you have all of your labeling done? Of course you don’t want to risk losing those labels causing you to have to recreate them all. What can you do at this point? The following workflow should help you save some headaches. We will use some AutoCAD techniques to go along with Civil 3D operations.

Let’s start with the easy one first which in this example is re-associating fixed station and offset labels to a different alignment. If you look at the graphic below you will see that the station and offset labels have been selected and then after right clicking and selecting “properties”, you can see that the dialog box shows that they are associated to the Ascent Blvd alignment.


To change this association, click where the alignment name is in the properties dialog box and you will get a drop-down as shown in the graphic below. Simply click the desired alignment and you should be good to go. The labels are now associated with Mission Ave which is the alignment to the north of the labels and their values have updated accordingly.


So what about that Data Reference workflow that was mentioned? Ok. Prior to recreating the Data Reference and potentially losing all of your labels (this has happened to me on several occasions) w-block out the labels that you don’t want to have to recreate. In my example, if the associated alignment (Ascent Blvd) was a Data Reference, I would use the wblock command with the delete from drawing option and select all of the station and offset labels, then write them out to a new drawing. One thing to keep in mind is that it will also grab the alignment, so on the other end there will be some cleanup to do such as deleting the extra alignment. After you have written the labels out to a new drawing, recreate your Data Reference. After this is complete, insert your labels drawing, delete the extra alignment, and then re-associate the labels to the desired alignment. This should save you some headaches and some unnecessary work. One last thing to note regarding alignment labels is that this works best with fixed point labels. If you don’t use fixed point station and offset labels, when you re-associate the labels to a different alignment, they will actually move from their original location so that they can keep their original station and offset values but they will move to where that location is in regards to the new alignment that they are now associated with. Just wanted to throw that our there as a caution.


Civil Infrastructure software is my main professional interest. Civil 3D, Infraworks, and Recap are what I work with mostly. I have been with CADsoft Consulting for over 10 years now. I got my start using Softdesk and AutoCAD R12 in DOS. My wife and I have four children and I am a die hard Red Sox fan.