Beam Me Up, Scotty: Using Autodesk Revit Beam Annotations Tool

by Kate Morrical
- Aug 7 2014 - 2 min read
Micke Tong

One of my favorite features of Autodesk Revit is its “smart” annotations. Instead of manually typing in information about elements in your model, you can extract data intelligently. Then, when the elements’ properties change, the annotations update automatically.

Revit has many kinds of information-based annotations, but the two that are relevant today are tags and spot elevations. If you’re modeling a steel-framed structure, your plan drawings likely need to include the sizes of the beams, their elevations, and maybe the end reactions. It might look something like this:

Autodesk Revit

There are four pieces of annotation in that image: three tags and one spot elevation. But I didn’t have to select the beam four times to place them. Thanks to the Beam Annotations tool, it was just a single process.

Beam Annotations is located on the Annotate tab, on the Tag panel. Let’s take a look at the dialog.

Autodesk Revit

The top half deals with which elements you will annotate. If you have some beams selected before you launch the tool, you can choose to annotate only those, or all in the view. You can even tag beams in a linked model, if you like. I do recommend that you check the box to “remove existing beam tags and spot elevations.” I have found that if a beam already has a tag, but not an elevation, the elevation will not be added if this box is not checked.

The Settings dialog gives you options for how far the tags are placed from the ends of the beams. (I usually find the defaults work just fine here.)

Autodesk Revit










In the bottom half of the dialog, you can select up to six different tags to appear on the beam. (Start, middle, and end; above and below the beam.) In my office, we typically tag the beam size in the top middle, add a spot elevation in the lower middle, and use a beam reaction tag at the top start and end if needed.)

A second tab enables you to choose what information is displayed for sloped beams. For instance, you might want to display the start and end elevations for the beam—maybe even the midpoint, too. (Hint: If your annotations start looking funny, you should check whether you defined tags for level or sloped beams.)

Autodesk Revit

The tags you choose here can be out-of-the-box Revit-provided ones, or they can be your own custom family types. They can contain any information you like and can be formatted in any way that meets your firm’s standards. You have complete control over the data displayed. For example, you could choose a spot elevation type that displays project, survey, or relative elevations, and a reaction tag that displays shear, moment, or both.

Another very good reason to use this tool is that normal spot elevations just don’t work for steel! Try it yourself: You’ll find you can’t select a point on a steel beam. The logic behind this is related to the fact that we show steel beams symbolically in plan, with a stick symbol instead of the actual width of the flange. So the regular spot elevation doesn’t see anything to tag—it needs physical, not symbolic geometry. But Beam Annotations always gets it right!

For tips on using Revit Dimensions, check out Revit Dimensions: More Than Meets the Eye, Part 1.


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