BIM Content Strategy Step 1 - BIM Project Templates

BIM Content Strategy Step 1 - BIM Project Templates

Posted by Yellowbryk on 20th Oct 2018

Does your firm deliberately waste time on each project so there is less chance to make money on the project? I doubt it. But if you are still using the default Revit project templates, that is what you are doing.

The most basic reason to create a custom BIM Project Template is that you can do a task once (in the template) rather than doing the same task over and over on each project. When your staff uses a well-made template, they are saved from doing tedious, repetitive tasks to start a new project. Design staff will be able to start profitable, productive work right away.


As we said in an earlierpost, “The first and, most important, building block of a BIM Content Strategy is the creation of project templates.” The benefits of a well-designed Revit template are many:

  • Every project will have consistent graphics – your firm's graphic standards. People will be saved from re-creating the text fonts, line styles, tags, symbols and schedules that they will need on each project.
  • Every project team will have essential design elements pre-loaded, avoiding the frustrating task of searching for and loading needed Revit families – even if you have an extensive firm library.

In summary, staff will save time completing the documentation of your firm's design solution.


You can find multiple recommendations on the “proper” sequence of creating a template. However, the most effective approach is to just start somewhere and keep improving your template as time allows.

Most organizations have a few people who are willing to debate “the one best way” or the “proper graphic style” for hours. While that debate rages, make a start at your template. It can always be modified when (or if) the debate is settled.

Because of the usual pressures of time and deadlines, the first iteration of a Revit project template will probably be incomplete. This is OK because staff will be saving time on every project. Each newer template version will bring additional benefit.

And even when all parts of a template have been “completed”, opportunities for improvement will surely show up.

As a strategy, we recommend creating several sub-templates that are “assembled” to create the standard project templates. This approach is also a way to break the template-building task into managable chunks. Below are the types of templates in this strategy. More on the sequence later.

  1. Empty Template – This is not Revit's default.rte template. It is one without anything. This is important to avoid inheriting objects, styles and standards that don't match your firm's standards.
  2. Graphic Standards Template – This template contains the standard graphic elements that are used on every project. Objects such as text styles, dimension styles, tags, symbols and annotations.
  3. Discipline-Specific Template – This template is started from the Empty Template and modified by using “Transfer Project Standards” to incorporate the items in the Graphics Standards Template. It then adds the specific families, symbols, tags and schedules (including shared parameters) that are needed for each of the disciplines within the firm – Architecture, Interiors, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Plumbing, etc.
  4. Detail Library Template – This template is started from the Empty Template and modified by using “Transfer Project Standards” to incorporate the items in the Graphic Standards Template. It then serves the function of containing your firm's standard details. Later, project teams can use “Insert / Insert from File” command to load the detail sheet (or individual details ) that they need from the standard collection.
  5. Building-Specific Template – This template starts the same as the Discipline-Specific Template, but the families that are added are those needed for a specific building type. Architecture firms usually create this type of template. For example, a hospital template will contain furniture, fixtures and equipment that differs from that needed in an office interiors template or from a restaurant template. MEP firms may have different templates for hotels and data centers, for example.
  6. Client-Specific Template – If your firm has a client with graphic standards or FF&E standards of their own, a client-specific template makes sense.

If your firm is international, you may need separate templates for imperial and metric measurement systems.


  1. Decide where to store templates. You will want separate folders for Autodesk-supplied content, your firm's content and your templates.
  2. Create an Empty Template – Start with the default.rte template. Purge, delete and purge again everything your can. Save as EmptyTemplate.rte
  3. Create a Basic Graphic Standards Template – Start with the Empty Template, then create your text, dimension and line styles.
    1. Text Styles – You will be using different text sizes and fonts to create your first cover sheet or titleblock. Create named text styles for each one you use. Be sure to include the popular sizes 3/32, 1/8, 3/16 and 1 / 4. We recommend naming text styles with the <font> <size> <modification> <color> pattern. For example, “Arial 1/8 Bold Red” If you want to use a font other than the default Arial, you will need to create new text styles AND new dimension styles. If you prefer the look of an “Architectural” or “hand-lettered” font, you can save time by using those already created by Yellowbryk here. The set has 12 fonts to choose from – AND they include modified dimension styles so everything is consistent.
    2. Dimension Styles – Revit's default font in dimensions is Arial, so if your standard font is other than Arial, you will need to create new dimension styles to match.
    3. Line Styles – Create line styles using functional names. Don't use the “Wide” line style for your titleblock borders. Create a new line style named “Titleblock Border.” In a similar way you will want to create line styles for “Overhead Casework”, “Demolition”, etc. Yellowbryk has a comprehensive starter-set of line styles that can be easily re-named for this purpose.
  4. Enhance the Basic Graphic Standards Template – A Basic Graphic Standards Template is a good start, but more productivity can be generated by enhancing it.
    1. Create titleblocks - If you start with the Autodesk-supplied titleblocks, you can count on them printing correctly. But that is not what you want. To create your custom titleblock, keep the lower-left corner the same, and draw the border lines to your sheet size(s). Purge everything you can and use “Transfer Project Standards” to bring in firm-standard fonts and line styles from your graphics template. Make all the modifications you need to turn the titleblock into your firm's custom look. Save the titleblock with a new name.
    2. Create core project sheets - Create a cover sheet, a general notes sheet (with symbols and a sheet list) and drawing sheets of various types. At this step you will be forced to make several decisions that will have long-lasting impacts.
      1. Tags – Pre-loaded tags are a big productivity boost for those documenting the design. Be sure to include the basics for your projects – Wall tags, floor tags, ceiling tags, etc.
      2. Annotations – Annotations include things like North arrows, elevation, section and callout symbols. Also in this category are tags for walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, rooms, etc.
      3. Abbreviations – Each discipline has a list of common abbreviations. Be sure to add these to your template. The list can be done on a Legend View, but we recommend using a schedule so the list can be re-formated to fit various sheet sizes.
      4. Detail Components – If you are using detail components for your native-Revit details (and you should be) be sure to load these components into your detail template.
      5. Filled Regions (hatch patterns) – Most firms have a set of patterns for use in detail drawings. These patterns indicate the material of a cut object in the view. These are “drafting” patterns. There are a host of other patterns (“model” patterns) that are also useful, particulary for architecture and interiors. Yellowbryk has created sets of model patterns for ceilings, pavers, wall panels and tiles that will save you time. They can be found here.
      6. Symbols – Every firm has a set of standard symbols for things like “Fire Extinguisher Cabinet”, “Valve” or “Connection”. It is tempting to use your old AutoCAD symbols, but if you haven't already created Revit families for yours, now is the time to do it.
    3. Establish Naming Standards – When you get this far, naming standards become important. They help you find what your looking for among your fonts, families, symbols or views. You will probably have to go back and re-name some items you've already created. Do it now or it will bug you (and your entire staff) for years to come. It is easy to over-think this process. My recommendation is to pick a naming pattern and stick with it. People will quickly learn the pattern and be able to find what they want. Consistency in the naming pattern is more important than the specific sequence selected. We like to preface all tags with “Tag-” and all symbols with “Sym-” to make the function clear to the user searching for the correct object in the project browser.
    4. Modify Phase Settings – This is one that often gets overlooked, but if you work with a lot of Existing structures then it is vitally important. Make sure your Phase filters and Graphic overrides are set to how you want them so that everything looks correct.

That's it for this part of template building. More on the Descipline Specific Template in a later post.