BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Which Kind of Callout to Use in Revit

Previously I have written about some of the limitations and inconsistencies with Revit Callouts:
There are some strange and frustrating restrictions, which mean you need to carefully plan how to manage Callouts.

Here I am going to describe the different ways to make Callouts in Revit, and propose a method of working that is different to the way Revit was designed, and probably different to how you use them.

Which Kind of Callout to Use?

1. Real Callout

The standard ‘Callout’ command places a rectangle defining the callout view extents. This will create a new view, and place the view reference rectangle on the active view. For reasons listed below, this method is not preferred.

  • You cannot change the reference.
  • You cannot move the callout to a different parent view.
  • You cannot change the callout view family between Plan/Detail (Plans only).
  • The callout rectangle can be stretched or rotated in the parent view – this will make the same change of extents or rotation to the callout view itself, which is not always desirable.
  • You cannot have the callout extents slightly different on the parent view (to make callouts readable) - they have to match the view cropping exactly.  Refer to Callout Crop-Boundary Mismatch.
  • If you copy and paste a Callout it creates an entirely new view with a different reference.
For more information see rules for Real Callouts

2. Reference Other View

Reference Other View Callouts can be created by:
  • Create a view to be referenced by the callout – eg. duplicate another view and crop it
  • Make sure the view is cropped (unless it is a drafting view).
  • On the view to place the callout, select the ‘Callout’ command, then select ‘Reference Other View’, and select a relevant view name from the drop-down menu
This method has many advantages:
  • Callouts can be moved to another view
  • Callout references can be changed to refer to different view
  • References will update if the view/sheet number is changed
  • Callouts can be copied to another parent view
It also has a few disadvantages:
  • It is possible for the user to select the wrong view in the list - there is no automatic check for this.
  • If you want to have "Sim" showing on a callout for similar details on multiple callouts, that is a Type property of the view being referred to, not a property of the callout symbol. 
    • That means it is all or nothing - ie. all instances of the callout must have "Sim" or not. 
    • It also changes the view type so it may move in your project browser, depending on your browser organistion.
  • You have to manually create each callout view (by Duplicate or Duplicate Dependent); then crop that view - this is a small price to pay for the benefits.
    • You could probably automate this using Dynamo.

3. Intersecting Views

Section callout symbols can be created automatically by Revit in section views – this occurs when one section has its extents completely within the larger section (both crop boundaries and clipping extents).
I would not recommend trying to use this method:
  • It is very confusing for users - it is better to stick with one Callout method for consistency.
  • Such callout sections may appear/disappear as view extents change

4. Fake Callouts 

Last and very much least, is a method that you should never, never use - but I've seen it often.
Fake (or dummy) view callout references can be made out of detail components or detail lines and text. This is very bad practice:
  • These may look like genuine Callouts, so people may not check the references. 
  • References will not update if view/sheets are changed.
  • This is totally against everything that Revit is trying to do!

Workflow Opinions

The following are my recommendations for working with Callouts in Revit.  Please note that these are opinions only - it is up to you to look at all the reasons I have given, and make up your own mind about this.  I accept no blame if it does not work for you.

One: All Callouts by 'Reference Other View'

Use method 2 (Reference Other View) for every single callout in your project.

If you never use methods 1 (Real Callouts), 3 (Intersecting Views), 4 (Fake Callouts), you will ensure consistency and will avoid most of the problems related to Callouts.

Two: Do Not Use Detail Views

Avoid using the Revit view family of 'Detail Views' - these have so many limitations and quirks, it is just not worth it.  Always use Plan views or Section views.  Refer to Detail Plan Callout Views

NB. If you follow the first recommendation above, this will not be an issue because it is only possible to create new detail views by Real Callouts.

Three: No Fakes

Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never use method  4 (Fake/dummy Callouts).  It is much quicker and safer to use 'Reference Other View' callouts.
Anyone who does this in Revit should not be using Revit at all !

Reference Label

There is one problem with using only 'Reference Other View' - refer to 'Reference Label'


I would be very interested to hear whether anyone has different (or the same) opinions about using Callouts - feel free to comment.


  1. So using method 2, do you force hide all of the originals by setting the "hide in scales coarser than..." function?

    What do you do with exterior elevation markers and building sections? As an example, a tall building (like one I've worked on recently) that had 13 floors. Adjusting the building section marks on each floor seems like a lot of extra work. And could potentially be incorrectly located if it is updated after the marks are added to the other floors. Not sure I would agree to always go with method 2.

    1. No need to force hide original callouts because you never place any at all (that is what you have to do if you use real Callouts then realise they are on the wrong view). Only use 'Reference Other View' callouts and you never need to hide them - just delete, move or copy them and they won't affect the view being called out.

      As regards Section & Elevation visibility, that is a whole different issue (this post is only about Callouts) - but I'd recommend only using View filters to control their visibility - don't use the other ten methods (by Scale, Hide in View etc).

    2. Hey sorry for the late reply, I appreciate your response. I am unclear on how you actually get the initial callout then, if your supposed to only use references. To create it in the first place, don't you need to use the "Real" callout tool? or duplicate a section and crop it down - which would in turn leave a duplicated section mark? I feel like I'm missing a step here.

    3. Hi Blue, Yes you have to duplicate the section (or plan view). It is true that it would leave a duplicated section mark but the visibility of that would typically be controlled using view filters (by type or some parameter that separates detail sections from larger scale ones). The purpose of this method is more aimed at solving the problems with plan view callouts where you don't have to worry about reference visibility - but I like to be consistent and apply the same methodology for all situations (plans, sections, elev).

  2. Agree with everything you mention. So many nightmarish situation while using real callouts.

  3. I had a user yesterday frustrated that the five real (method 1) callouts she placed on her Working floor plan view could not be moved to the Print floor plan view. She is now a fan of method 2.

  4. You don't discuss the difference between plan & elevation callouts and Detail View callouts.
    There are 2 main differences:
    1. A Detail View callout can be created in a plan or section, but a plan or section callout can not be created in a Detail View.
    2. The views a Detail View reference appears in can be controlled via the 'Show in' parameter (reference view only or all intersecting views).

    So I have a rule:
    Plan and section callouts are only used for larger scale part plans or sections.
    Detail Views are only used for small scale construction details.

    As an aside you can 'move' a callout by creating a new one, then in the old view hide model elements, copy (ctrl c) everything, in the new view paste to same place. Delete old view.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Antony. I did explain the differences between restrictions for plan and section callouts in one of the other posts on callouts. I didn't mention elevation callouts because they behave like section callouts (I'm pretty sure they work the same way and are interchangeable).

      As regards your workaround for moving callout views, I have been tempted to try this but find it is so painful I would not inflict it on others - the problem being that when you hide the model elements it also hides related tags and dimensions - hence you have to go through 2 or 3 very fiddly copy operations for different element types. That is not practical if you have say ten fully annotated callouts all on the wrong plan view!
      NB. If you copy and paste a callout from one view to another, it does not duplicate the annotation.