How to Use Keynotes in Revit – Complete Guide

In Revit, there are multiple ways to classify elements, and the Keynotes feature stands out as one of these classification methods. The Keynotes feature allows the standardization of predefined notes within one or multiple project files. This parameter is available for all model elements and materials. The value of the parameter is sourced from an external text (.txt) file.

When a Keynote is placed, it becomes associated with a specific element or material. When changing the source file or the value of the Keynote parameter in the project, the tag will be updated automatically. Within Revit, it is possible to create a Keynote Legend which allows you to list all used Keynotes in the project or on a sheet. Additionally, you customize tags to display different information, such as Keynote Text or Key Value.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the fundamentals of Keynotes, how to set up a Keynote File, and add Keynotes to the Project. In addition, I will explain how to create a Keynote Legend.

Keynotes in Revit Overview

The main goal of Keynotes is to enable you or the reader to determine where to find each element’s requirement in the specifications. The Keynote Type parameter is available for all model elements and materials, including detail components which can be practical when creating details. Read more about detailing in Revit.

When you place Keynotes in Revit, you identify the products or materials on the elements and link these to the specifications. The specifications are found in a separate Keynote table .txt file, which you can link to Revit. Each element is identified through a note that contains a numerical identifier within a sequential list of items. The Keynote refers to this parameter to determine the corresponding label used for the Keynote.

keynotes in revit
Keynote label with different output

By default, Revit provides two sample Keynote table files (Imperial and Metric), but each organization can use and create its own file. The files Revit provides, are based on the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) from 1995. Most countries do have their own building industry standards, which you probably can download and use.

keynotes in revit
Default Keynotes table in Revit

Moreover, Keynotes assigned to a project are linked to the external Keynote .txt file. This means that when you change the values in the external file it will also adjust the values in the project file upon reopening the project, or manually reloading the external file.

Tip

You should always be aware of using generic text for Keynotes and not using detailed characteristics. Since these details can be changed during the project, it would necessitate modifying all keynotes.

Keynotes Types in Revit

As mentioned earlier, all elements in Revit have a Keynote Type parameter, including materials. The Keynote features include three kinds of types, which are:

  1. Element Keynote
  2. Material Keynote
  3. User Keynote
keynote types

1. Element Keynote

You can apply an Element keynote to an entire element, which includes walls, detail components, doors, windows, etc. When using the Element Keynote, the type parameter “Keynote” is read out. The Keynote parameter applies the information to all instances of that element within the project, as it functions as a type parameter.

You can assign a value to the Keynote parameter of the element type before placing the Keynote tag, or you can set it after positioning the tag.

element keynote in revit
Element Keynote tag

2. Material Keynote

You can assign a Material Keynote to a material that you have painted on a surface of an element, and to materials assigned to the component layers of an element. Keep in mind that this Keynote does not support the insulation drafting tool, detail components, or wireframe views. When materials are given a keynote value, the objects that use those materials inherit the respective keynote value.

material keynote in revit
Material Keynote tag

Tip

The best way to apply Keynotes to materials is to specify them in the Material Browser > Identity tab before placing the tag.

3. User Keynote

The User Keynote is one of the Keynote types that isn’t recommended to use often because they are specific to a view and can’t be predefined. The information you provide to these tags needs to be inside the Keynote text file. So since the User Keynotes are not associated with any model element types, you can use them to address documentation issues, for example.

user keynote in revit
User Keynote tag

If you remove an element with one of the three types of Keynote attached to it, it will automatically remove the associated tag.

Keynoting Settings in Revit

Before applying Keynotes to your model, specify a Keynote file in the Keynoting Settings. The setting dialog also allows you to choose the preferred numbering method for the Keynotes. To open the settings follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Annotate tab
  2. Click on the Keynote dropdown menu > Select Keynoting Settings > Keynoting Settings dialog opens > Click OK when finished
keynote settings

In the Keynoting Settings, you will see two sections where you can change options, which are the Keynote Table and Numbering Method.

keynote settings
Keynoting Settings dialog

Keynote Table

  • File Location: This shows you the complete file path location and file name of the currently loaded keynote table. Every time you open Revit, it will automatically reload the Keynote table. If the Keynote table is not loaded or unavailable, a yellow warning sign will appear in the Keynoting Settings to alert you.
  • File Path
    • Absolute: This option allows you to specify a particular folder within your PC or network server. The File Path can be hosted in the Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) format. For example, \\host-name\share-name\keynote-table-name.txt
    • Relative: This is the location of a file relative to the current working directory. In other words, it will find the Keynote file where the project file is stored. Please note that if the file location is modified, it expects that the Keynote file is also located in the new folder.
    • At library locations: You can use this option to find the Keynote file in the installation folder (default).
  • Browser: To Browse for a Keynote file to use. After finding the .txt file, click on open to load this Keynote file.
  • View: After you load a Keynote file, you can view the file to see an overview of the Keynotes in the dialog. You cannot edit the Keynote table within the dialog.
  • Reload: You can use this to manually reload the Keynote table from the current file.

Note

The File Path options are not accessible if the currently loaded Keynote table is hosted on a remote server.

Numbering Method

  • By keynote: You can choose this option to display the numbers corresponding to the Keynote parameter value or the value selected from the Keynote table.
numbering by keynote
Example of Numbering By Keynote
  • By sheet: This option allows you to change the numbering to a sorted list independent of each sheet.
    The numbers follow a sequential order starting from 1, based on their creation.
numbering by sheet
Example of Numbering By Sheet

Note

When you choose Numbering By Sheet, the numbers will only appear when you place the view on the Sheet.

Setting up a Keynotes File in Revit

To create a Keynotes file you can edit one of the default installed .txt files which are called RevitKeynotes_Metric.txt or RevitKeynotes_Imperial.txt. You can find the default Keynote files at the following location:

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Autodesk\RVT XXXX\Libraries\English\US

If you don’t have Keynote files installed on your device or if you prefer to start with a new file, you can easily create one by opening an empty Excel file. If you intend to modify a default file, I recommend opening it with Excel while keeping the original .txt file untouched. In other words, its advisable to have two files: the .txt and .xlsx. This method ensures that users receive notifications when accessing the Excel file, thus preventing any potential loss of work.

Keynote file
Use the Excel file for editing purposes and ensure that the .txt file remains untouched

Note

Please note that a Revit project can have a maximum of one keynote file associated simultaneously.

Edit Keynote File

You can start to edit a Keynote file by opening an existing file in Excel or creating a new file in Excel. Ensure that every new row added to the Excel file includes a Key Value in column A and a Keynote Text in column B. Use column C to include a sub-category that serves as a group heading for the Keynotes. Furthermore, it is possible to expand the nested sub-categories by employing the same approach.

keynote file in revit
Creating a Keynote file in Excel

Once you have completed editing the Keynote file, you can proceed by following the steps outlined below:

  1. Save the Excel (.xlsx) file
  2. Save As the file in Unicode Text format by choosing the (.txt) extension and overwrite the existing file.
  3. Reload the Keynote File in Revit by opening the Keynote Settings
excel keynote file
Save as Text (.txt) file

Add keynotes in Revit

After you set up your Keynote file, you can add Keynote Tags to the elements and materials in the views. Make sure you have a Keynote Tag family inside your project or load one into Revit. By default, the Keynote Tag family has various types, which you can use to show a different output or appearance.

Note

To Keynote a material in Revit, ensure the elements are visible in the desired view and adjust the detail level to medium or fine. Otherwise, the tag will show you a question mark because the material cannot be read.

Keynote Tag Family

By default, the Revit Templates contain a family for the Keynote Tags called: Keynote Tag.rfa. You can find it in the Annotation Symbols category of the Project Browser. If this is not the case, you can load in the default family by following the next steps.

  1. Open the Insert tab > Load from Library panel
  2. Click on Load Autodesk Family > Search for Revision Tag > Click on load
load autodesk family
Load Keynote Tag family from the Autodesk Family cloud service

Optional: You can also create your own Keynote tag by creating a new family: (Metric) Generic Tag.rft, don’t forget to change the Category to Keynote Tags before placing the labels.

Add Keynote Tag

Once you have loaded or created a Keynote Tag family, you can continue to add them to the elements or materials by opening a view and following the steps outlined below:

  1. Go to the Annotate tab
  2. Click on the Keynote dropdown menu > Select a Keynote Type
add keynote tag in revit
  1. Select a Keynote style type in the Properties Browser > Optional: Choose options, such as Leader Line, Orientation, Angle, and Leader Type. In this case, I checked the Leader Line with Free End.
  2. In the View select and click an element or material to tag with a Keynote
  3. Click the second point to place the first segment for the leader
  4. Click the third (final) point to place the end of the segment of the leader and also the location of the Keynote tag
place keynote label


When the element or material already has a value assigned to the Keynote parameter, the tag will instantly display it. If this is not the case, the Keynote dialog opens and you can select the value for the Keynote. Optional: You can also add a Key Value later, by clicking on the question mark and then choosing a value from the Keynotes dialog.

add keynote value
Add Keynote Value afterward

Modify Keynotes

Once you have inserted some Keynotes, you have the option to add additional Host elements to them and modify the leaders as well. In order to do that you can use the function Add / Remove Host and select multiple elements. Notice that it will attach more leaders to the Keynote. Within the Leaders panel, you can customize the visibility of leaders by either showing/hiding or merging them.

modify keynote
Left: Merge Leaders off, Right: Merge Leaders on

Keynote Legend in Revit

When using the Keynote tags with the Key value label, it may not be straightforward to readers what description belongs to the element or material. In Revit, you can add a Keynote Legend to sheets to clarify the used Keynotes. Furthermore, you can use Keynote Legends to overview all used Keynotes within your project.

To create a Keynote Legend, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the View tab
  2. Click on the Legends dropdown menu in the Create panel
  3. Select Keynote Legend

Alternative: In the Project Browser, right-click on Legends and select New Keynote Legend…

add keynote legend
  1. Give the Keynote Legend a Name > Click OK
new keynote legend
  1. In the Keynote Legend Properties, you can change the fields, but by default, the Key Value and Keynote Text are added > Optional: change any other settings in the other Tabs > Click OK when finished
keynnote legend properties
You just created your Keynote Legend Schedule

Filter Keynote Legend by Sheet

When placing the Keynote Legend on the sheet, you likely intend to display only the Keynotes tagged within the views placed on the sheet. You can achieve this by following the steps outlined below:

  1. In the Project Browser click on the Keynote Legend to open
  2. Go to the Properties Browser > Filter and select Edit…
keynote legend in revit
  1. In the Keynote Legend Properties dialog select Filter by sheet > Click OK
keynote legend properties
Filter by sheet

Wrapping Up

Keynotes in Revit is a nice feature that allows you to classify elements with predefined notes. The parameter is available for all model elements and materials. The parameter’s value comes from an external text (.txt) file. Keep in mind that it is possible to have only one Keynote file attached to the project simultaneously.

Please prioritize using the Element Keynote and Material Keynote whenever possible. Only turn to the User Keynote when you can’t use the other two types. Use the advantage of Keynote Legends to make clear what description belongs to the elements or materials, and to create an overview of all used Keynotes within your project.

I hope this article helped you to understand how to set up a Keynotes file, utilize the various keynotes in Revit, and create Keynote Legend. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Get more stuff like this

Revit, Dynamo, Sketchup and BIM Tips

I hate spam too, so you can unsubscribe at any time.

3 thoughts on “How to Use Keynotes in Revit – Complete Guide”

  1. When do u use keynotes? What’s the advantage of using keynotes compared to using normal tags? Most projects that i came across, the coordinators just use normal tags to annotate.

    • You can use Keynotes for different purposes, such as tagging elements in detail drawings, floorplans, etc. One of the key advantages of using Keynotes is that it is linked to an external file (.txt), which can be easily updated and imported into Revit. When you have various elements sharing the same Keynote, you only need to update it once instead of modifying the Type parameter individually for each one.

Leave a Comment

0 Shares
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin