Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Rotating True North, part of Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting.
- I have a really simple one for you today. I wanna talk about rotating True North. Now at some point in the project, you're gonna want to rotate your True North and make it match the actual geographic position of north on your project site. You might do that to get your shadows correct, so that the shadows are casting in the correct angle relative to the building. You might do that just to get the site orientation correct on your Site Plan. So when you're ready to rotate the True North, the best place to do it is in a Site Plan, but you can actually do it in any plan view. So it's really up to you. But I'm in a Site Plan view, and the project that you have open really doesn't matter.
You can do this in any project. Make sure that there are no objects selected, and look at the Properties pallet. Scroll down, and you'll notice that there's an Orientation property. And it can have two values: Project North or True North. Now by default, it's set to Project North. Project North is just the orientation of the building that's most convenient to fit on the sheet of paper. Some people call this Plan North. So if you look at my building, it's rectilinear and more horizontally-oriented, and that makes perfect sense for your standard Title Block Sheet, which is also typically horizontally-oriented.
So if my building was taller than it was wide, I might rotate my Project North in order to make it fit better on the sheet. So when you're thinking about Project North, just think about what orientation will fit your title block nicely, and set that as early in the project as you can, so that the building orientation matches those sheets, and it'll just be more convenient to lay out your sheets. So that's Project North. True North, on the other hand, should actually match the direction of north, geographically speaking, on the building site.
Go to Google Maps, figure out where north is, and that's what we mean by True North. So what I'm gonna do here is set the orientation to True North. The command to rotate True North is on the Manage tab, and if you try to rotate True North without first changing the orientation, it will complain, okay? And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. How can you rotate True North if the view is not set to that? So let's set the view to True North, and when I apply that, nothing'll happen. Because at the moment, this project's True North matches its Project North, so there's no change.
But now I can go to the Rotate True North command, and you can see, it's just like the standard Rotate command in Revit. You get this sort of rotation vector here. You also have some options here on the Options bar. And there's really two ways that you can input an angle directly. You can put an angle here, and this is an angle from True North, either east or west. Or you can put an angle here, counterclockwise rotation direction. So if you knew what angle to type in, in either one of these fields, you could do it. Or you could actually just use this vector on screen.
Now let's say that the True North actually points up and to the left, in this direction. So I might think that what I need to do is just sort of start with an angle here, and then kind of point in the direction that I wanna go. But what you're actually gonna see is that really rotates the building. It doesn't actually seem to rotate north. In other words, I wanted north to be this way, and it seems like it did the opposite to me. So what I'm gonna do is undo that. Now as I say, you certainly can use these angle fields, and if you know exactly what the direction is in decimal degrees, you can go ahead and put that in in one of those fields.
But I'm gonna show you the trick that I like to use, because I'm more visually-oriented, and I like to see it on screen first. So this is a really simple trick that you can do to orient your True North. The first thing is to go to the Annotate tab and click the Symbol tool. And then choose a North Arrow. Okay, so I've got a couple North Arrows loaded in here. It doesn't matter what North Arrow you use. But I'll just place it down there in the corner. And I'll zoom in, and it's a fairly simple North Arrow, but it's pointing up.
Now, the thing that I haven't mentioned yet is in Revit, north is always up. So that's why the view looked a little strange after we were done rotating True North. Because what actually happened is north stayed pointing straight up relative to your screen, so it had to rotate the view in order to match that new orientation of north. To me, Rotate North is rotate north, right? So I like to take this symbol and rotate it first.
So I'm going to select that symbol and rotate it off in that direction where I said north was supposed to be. So that's the first step. So now, if I kept the view oriented at Project North, what I'm saying is, yeah, but True North is off and to the left. So I've got that. Now I'm going to go back to the Manage tab, click the drop-down again, and choose Rotate True North again. Now just like the regular Rotate command, you have the option here to place the center point of the rotation.
So I'm gonna do that. And I'm gonna snap that center point directly to my North Arrow. Then I'm gonna take the direction that the arrow is currently pointing in, and make that my start angle. So I'll snap to the end point right there. And then remember, north always has to point up. So now I'll just rotate it until it snaps vertical, and then click again. And now my North Arrow is pointing up perfectly vertical, and when I zoom out, you can see that my building is now properly oriented.
So I like doing it that way better because it's much more visual, it makes a lot more sense to me, and I just feel like I get more control over the process. But you're more than welcome to use the angles on the Options bar. They achieve the same result, and whatever method works for you is the right method. Now let me give you a couple little bonuses here that have really nothing to do with Rotate North, but since we're looking at a Site Plan, and there's a couple little oddities here, I just wanna clean those up. The first is, you might not wanna see these elevation markers in your Site Plan.
Now you might be tempted to start selecting those and hiding the elements or hiding the category. Now you certainly could do that, but that's not what I'm gonna do here. So I'm going to select one of my elevations, right-click, and say Select All Instances Visible in the View. And then over here, you'll see it says Common 8, 'cause it selected both the views and the elevations. I'll drop down this list, choose Views. And then here, there's a feature called Hide at scales coarser than. And in this particular project, it's set to a very small scale: one to 5,000.
I'm going to change that to one to 100, and what this means is these elevation symbols will disappear at any scale coarser than one to 100, and they disappear because this view is set to one to 200. If I change the scale of this view back to one to 100, they reappear. But with it at one to 200, or coarser, they will disappear. Now the other one is these little items here. Like we might be wondering, why are we seeing this text on the screen. Well, there's a water heater inside this group here, and the water heater has an annotation symbol built into it, and for whatever reason, it's displaying.
So that's the plumbing fixtures, and I'll just simply hide that, because I think it's pretty safe to hide plumbing fixtures in a Site Plan. So if you get some little odd things like that sometimes, easy enough to fix. So anyway, those are a couple little bonus tips there. But as far as rotating True North goes, my preferred method, put in a North Arrow first, orient it, then use it as the basis for your rotate True North, and you'll get it right every time.
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