Revit MEP Electrical Device Annotations - Right Side Up

Matt Dillon

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A common source of frustration for MEP users of Revit are the electrical devices, light switches, etc. with embedded labels. The following image illustrates what I'm talking about:

Four of the eight duplex outlets shown above are GFCI outlets, and while they properly label themselves as such, the lable is rotated to the same angle as the outlet itself instead of being horizontal in all cases, which is the way most people would like to see it.

The problem is due to a fundamental limitation in Revit families. Annotation can't be displayed in a non-annotation Revit family unless it is in a nested Annotation family. When you nest the family its orientation is fixed in relation to the rest of the geometry. The fix is relatively simple, however there are a few steps involved. The following will walk you through the process of fixing the "out of the box" duplex outlet, however you can apply the same approach to all of the face-based electrical fixtures in Revit, including light switches

1) Assuming you already have the family in your project, place several instances of it in one of your views. Change some of them to the type "GFCI", leaving others as type "Standard".

2) Select one of the Duplex Outlets and click "Edit Family" on the Ribbon (it doesn't matter which type you have selected).

3) Save the family to a different folder from the default location. Anytime you modify "out of the box" Revit content this is a good idea. Put it in one of your office's folders for custom content. Leave the name the same, however.

4) In the "Ref. Level" Floorplan view, select the 2D duplex outlet symbol and click "Edit Family" on the Ribbon again.

5) Save the family to the same location you saved the Duplex Receptacle family to in Step 3, again leaving the name the same.

6) Delete the text label in the family. If you want to be thorough, you can also use the Family Types dialog box to remove the "Label" parameter.

7) Save the family again, then use "Load into Project" button on the Ribbon and load the family back into the Duplex Receptacle family. Choose the option to overwrite the family and all of its parameter values.

The label should be gone from the family. You now need to modify the "Label" parameter in the Duplex Receptacle family to make it one that can be tagged. This will involve editing your shared parameter file.

8) Click the "Family Types" dialog in on the Ribbon. Select the "Label" parameter and click on "Modify".

Note that currently the "Label" parameter is a Family Parameter which means it cannot appear in schedules or tags.

9) Select the "Shared parameter" option, then click "Select".

What happens next may vary depending upon your circumstances. This article assumes that you already have a Shared Parameter File specified and that you do NOT already have a "Label" parameter set up in your Shared Parameter File. It's also assumed that you know how to edit a Shared Parameter file and that you have permission to do so. If you're not sure, you may want to check with someone in your office first, or do some research on creating and editing Shared Parameters. It's not difficult, but if you already have an office-wide Shared Parameter file you probably shouldn't be messing around with it without getting permission first.

10) In the Shared Parameters dialog box, click the "Edit" button. Create a new Group called "Electrical Devices", then select that group from the drop-down list. Create a new parameter called "Label" and make sure the Discipline is set to "Common" and Type is set to "Text". Click "OK" until you are back in the Shared Parameters dialog.

11) Still in the Shared Parameters dialog select the "Electrical Devices" parameter group, select the "Label" parameter and click "OK". Click "OK" again to leave the Parameter Properties dialog and return to the Family Types dialog.

12) Save the Duplex Receptacle family again, and click the "Load into Project" button on the Ribbon again to reload it into you project. Again, choose the option to overwrite the family and all of its parameter values.

At this point, none of the outlets should show a label at all. Now you need to create a simple tag family to display the "Label" value of the Duplex Receptacle.

13) From the Application Menu, click "New -> Family". In the Family Templates dialog box, open the "Annotations" folder, then click the "Electrical Device Tag" file and click "Open".

14) From the "Create" tab of the Ribbon, click "Label" and place the insertion point at the intersection of the two Reference Planes. In the "Edit Label" dialog box, click the "Add Parameter" button shown in the image below. This will allow you to choose your "Label" parameter from your Shared Parameter File. Once you've selected it, add it to the tag label as shown in the image below and click "OK".

15) Adjust the bounding box of the tag label, then save the family and load it into your project.

The hard part is done. Now that you have your family redefined and a tag created from this point forward annotating it so that the text always stays horizontal is easy. You can use a twist on the "Tag All" tool on the ribbon. First, select any outlet that is not of the type "Standard", right click and click "Select All Instances -> Visible in View". With all of the outlets of a particular type selected, use the "Tag All" tool on the ribbon to tag only those objects selected in the current view as shown in the image below. This way you don't tag the "Standard" outlet type by accident and wind up with a "?" in the label.

Once  you've placed the tags, you may need to move a few off of their outlets, but they should all be horizontal as shown in the image below.