Automatic Updating Electrical Symbol Legend in Revit

Electrical symbol legends are a critical part of electrical design documents and everyone wants to have a Symbols List which automatically updates to show the actual electrical symbols that are placed in a project.  That way, the only symbols that are on the list are ones that are actually placed in the model and the list does not include many unused symbols.  It is actually possible to do this.  When an electrical item gets added to the model, the symbol gets added to the symbol list.

This process is accomplished by adding a Type Image to each electrical family and new parameter for specifying the description that will appear in the Symbol List.  I will be using Electrical Fixture category families for this illustration.

Step 1 – Create Type Images

It is necessary to have an image associated with each electrical family type.

  • This can be done by placing an electrical fixture of the desired family type in the model.
  • Use the Snipping Tool in Windows (or other similar tool) to window a symbol.
  • Save the image as one of the standard image file types (.bmp, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .tif).  I like .png since they are lightweight and small file size.

Step 2 – Add Description Parameter

The existing Description parameter for a family may or may not say what you really want it to say on the symbols list, so I recommend creating a new parameter to hold text that you desire to appear as the description in the symbols list.

  • Create a new Shared Parameter named “Symbol List Description” that uses the Common Discipline and is a Text type as shown below.
  • Add this new parameter to each family.  I like to add it to the Identity Data section.  It will likely be added to families belonging to the following Categories:
    • Communication Devices
    • Data Devices
    • Electrical Fixtures
    • Electrical Equipment
    • Fire Alarm Devices
    • Lighting Devices
    • Lighting Fixtures
    • Nurse Call Devices
    • Security Devices
    • Telephone Devices
  • For each Type within a family, enter the text that you desire to appear in the Symbol List that you will see on the sheet.

Step 3 – Create a Symbol Schedule

A schedule view will be created that shows the image and the description for the symbol.

  • Create a schedule using the Multiple Categories option at the top.
    • This will allow symbols from multiple different categories to appear in the list.  See the section above which lists categories that may appear in the schedule.
  • In the Schedule Properties tab, add the Type Image parameter and the Symbol List Description parameter.  The Type Image parameter needs to be at the top of the list.
  • In the Schedule Properties tab, sort by the Symbol List Description and remove the checkmark for “Itemize every instance“.
  • In the Appearance tab, remove the checkmarks for Grid Lines and for Show Headers.  Adjust the text types as desired.

Step 4 – Add the Symbols List schedule to a sheet

The schedule can be added to a sheet and adjusted like any other schedule.

Summary

  • This schedule can get complex if family types are not managed well.
  • Image sizes are important.  Using a product like SnagIt that can allow you to make images a specific size is useful.  Otherwise the images may all appear different or be too large.
  • Since the schedule will sort by the Symbol List Description, it may be desired to add an additional hidden parameter for sorting the symbols in the desired order.
  • The appearance may not be the same as you are accustomed to seeing.
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