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Another one of the truly maddening terms in Autodesk Civil 3D is that Reference word. Maybe Reference is not quite as confusing in Civil 3D as the word Point. But Reference appears to come close. We have External References, Data References, file references, and even Reference Templates. I could go on.

For reasons that may be pretty apparent, Reference continues to remind me of that infamous 70’s word Relevant. Relevant carries a lot of dirty water in many forms of modern intellectual and political sophistry. So…

How and Why is Civil 3D Reference Text Relevant?

To be clear we are talking about the Reference Text component that is available in Civil 3D Label Styles. Simply put, each named Reference Text component in a Civil 3D Label Style allows us to cite a number of data behind property values from only one other Civil 3D Feature (object) available in the current drawing.

For example we want:

  • To label a Fitting in a Pressure Pipe Network with the relative Station values from two different Alignments in plan or even in a Profile View.
  • Elevation values from both existing and proposed Surfaces to display at Stations on an Alignment or on an Alignment and/or Profile made from an Extracted Corridor Feature Line.

This list goes on an on. In Civil 3D from something old we can get something new…


Civil 3D Reference Label Style and Component Creation

By the way, don’t you think it is a good idea to name Label Styles with Reference Text in such a way that Civil 3D users can tell what they are getting into. The Framework for Civil 3D does that.

It is important to remember that when a Label Style for a Civil 3D Feature does not work in a Civil 3D release (this happens), there are other types of Label Styles that do have functional Reference Text components. Can you guess at which Label Styles Autodesk tends to test?

It is certainly possible to pile on a bunch of separate Reference Text components with multiple values into a single Label Style. It is always relevant to ask how many relatives do you want to invite to the event. If your guests are or are not relatives, their references may matter. Grin.

Life may not be a project, but Civil 3D is the project.

The Label Style Reference Text Component

This Label Style Reference Text component form of reference is internal to the current drawing – well sort of. The Civil 3D Feature itself may be from a Feature Data Reference (DREF).
Yes. Externally Referenced (XREF) Civil 3D Features are supported.
If we can label Civil 3D Features in an XREF in the current drawing, that makes sense.

Why the heck would we want to do that? Let me count the ways…


Basics of Civil 3D Labels with XREFS

To get Alignment Group Labels started on a XREF Alignment is a bit weird because they are a Set. Hint: Right click is your friend.

The diverse application functionalities make Label Styles with Reference Text components very useful for both QAQC and annotative documentation tools in Civil 3D.

As I recall a version of the Label Style Reference Text component has been available at least since Civil 3D 2010 and probably earlier for many Label Styles. The availability of the specific Civil 3D Features and Label Styles supported by Reference Text has continuously increased.

Most versions of Civil 3D support Reference Text for Surfaces, Alignments, Profiles, Parcels, COGO Points, and Survey Figures. Property Set support potentially exists when the drawing contains Property Set definitions for the supported Civil 3D Feature.

The Past Becomes the Future

Historically, Civil 3D Features undergoing current development in a Civil 3D release or upgrade cycle are more likely to deliver partial, dysfunctional, or failed Reference Text component behaviors.

Many of us could or would not like live without Label Styles with Reference Text.
Odds are you already know that. If not, now you do.

All of the above can turn the Civil 3D newbie brain to mush.
Worse yet, when the Label Style is first properly applied or when things break later (someone deleted a DREF Surface or Detached an XREF) the user is faced with a Civil 3D Label that displays an all too relevant- ??? string.
That does seem to me to be relevant for lost references. Eheh.

The Label pleads, ”Please, set my Feature reference property in the AutoCAD Property box.”
No separate Civil 3D interface at all.
No support for Reference Text in Civil 3D Style Set assignment dialog boxes.
What the…?

In any case, when you need to annotate new Site Grading Corridors, those old Label Styles with Reference Text tend to come in handy. They are worth our care and consideration. Civil 3D is certainly a diva.

Something Old and Something New
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Civil 3D Label Style Management posts