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Revit for MEP: Make Your Callouts Stand Out with a Unique Masking Hack

Revit for MEP: Make Your Callouts Stand Out with a Unique Masking Hack

Just the other day, I had a conversation with someone very close to me that inspired this blog. It started with a question, “Is it true that in Revit, you can’t have a callout that masks the drawing beneath it?” I thought about that for a second and instantly had a Déjà vu moment. I had a vague memory of having done this in the past. The thought was of the mask region feature and somehow integrating it into the callout. It was just a casual conversation that got me thinking.

Then, sometime later, I remembered how I accomplished it years ago and recalled some of the issues I encountered. It was on my mind so much lately that I went back to this and worked through it, and now that it is fresh on my mind, the thought occurred to me to formally document this in a blog post.

Making Your Callouts Stand Out

Observe the gif below. For clarity, I leveraged Bluebeam’s side-by-side synchronized viewing to illustrate the callout with and without the masking hack. It becomes even more pronounced the further you Zoom out. On the left view, you can see that it is difficult to make out the view and sheet number in the callout.  However, the masking hack I have developed makes the callout very clear.

The process is rather simple, but there is a challenge that threw me for a loop. Please allow me a moment to describe this accurately. Below are the steps on how to accomplish this and further below is the hack that facilitates all of this and really makes this simple.

  1. Open your Revit project file.
  2. Determine the offending callout family name.
  3. Open the family file.
  4. Add the masking region.
  5. Delete the line dividing the upper and lower half.
  6. Replace the line with text (underscores ___ ). Yes, really!!!
  7. Load the family into your Revit project file.

A few notes on the text underscores replacing the line:

The hack consists of leveraging the masking region along with text (a bunch of underscores ____ ).

Personally, I found that using the underscore key on your keyboard, although is adequate, sometimes introduces a small gap between each instance of the underscore. I prefer to use a very small, duplicated text type within Revit with a height of 3/256 inches, so I used the Microsoft Character Map to find the U+02CD: Modifier Letter Lower Macron character instead of the underscore. Then, I made the Macron characters bold.

Why are you replacing the line with text?

The mask region feature must obey rules for it to work properly. The rule states it will need to hide the line work, but it does not mask the text, so we must bend the rules to our advantage by erasing the line and replacing it with text underscores. However, I found a character that was better than the underscore as you can see in Microsoft’s Character Map tool.

Why make the text so small? 3/256” seems tiny. 

Well yes, the text is tiny, but what this does is make more, smaller underscore widths so that they fit between the larger circle of the callout head. I can use the regular text size of 3/32” but the underscore or the Macron character would either be shy of reaching all the way across the diameter of the circle or it would have protruded out the side.  So, when making the text that small (3/256”), it gave me greater flexibility to span all the way across the diameter of the circle without protruding too far.

Why make the underscore or the Macron characters bold?

This helps in two ways, it makes the resulting inferred line slightly thicker and helps eliminate the little gaps between the underscores or Macron Characters.

Conclusion

Investing your time to do this reflects on the clarity of your documents. Above, you can clearly see the information in the callout without obstruction.

This blog is written by Sr. MEP Technical Specialist Jay Ayala.

Behind the Blog: Meet Jay Ayala

Jay has over 24 years of experience in the MEP and engineering industry. He has worked on a variety of projects from Medical Office buildings to mixed-use residential and Commercial buildings.

He is an expert in all Autodesk AEC Industry software. He started using AutoCAD in 1992 and is actively using the entire Autodesk AEC Industry Collection. The CAD drawings he has produced over his career include: Mechanical floor plans of commercial buildings, plumbing drawings, hydronic drawings, electrical drawings, architectural drawings, construction drawings, BIM Coordination, among others.

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