This is Part 3 in my series on hyperlinks in ArchiCAD. Although I think it’s better to say Part 3 in my series on creating Powerful Digital Documents from ArchiCAD. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

I’m sure there are many examples of how powerful a PDF set created correctly from a well-done ArchiCAD file can be. Organized, searchable, internally hot-linked… it’s not just a digital facsimile of a paper set. It’s much more robust, just like an ArchiCAD model (or any BIM) is much more than the digitization or 3D-ization of traditional work. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: PDFs created from ArchiCAD are searchable. So if you want to find a specific note, just search for it. Want to find a specific detail on a plan? Search for it. For instance if you want to find detail 1/A403, just search for “1 A403”. Even with the text on two lines, the search function will find it.

A Question of Labeling

Example 2 is more valuableIf you search in a PDF for 1 A403, you can find every instance of 1/A403 in the documents – BUT if the actual detail 1/A403 is just labeled detail 1 on the sheet A403, then the search function won’t find it. Even just searching for 1 on sheet A403 is probably going to be useless, turning up results for ever text string with that number in it. This suggests that it is better to label your details as Number/Sheet Number rather than just Number as you will have a more concrete term for which to search.

Example 3 has even more valueAs an alternative, you could label your details D01 through D99, continuing the numbering scheme across all sheets of details. This style of numbering would give each detail a uniquely searchable ID.

We are fortunate ArchiCAD makes this very easy to do. Setting up the details to automatically be numbered something like D01 instead of 01 is simple. On your first detail sheet, go to the Layout Settings and under the IDs of Drawings on this Layout tab, set up the ID Prefix and ID Style you want.

ID Prefix and ID StyleGetting the detail numbering to be continuous across multiple sheets is just as easy. Go to the Layout Settings of a given sheet and check “Continue Drawing ID sequence from previous Layout” under the IDs of Drawings on this Layout tab. The result will be something like this: D01 through D06 are on sheet A501, and sheet A502 starts with D07.

The reason to consider this numbering system is two-fold: D01 is easily searchable where as 1 is a useless term to search for. Think about how many times the number 1 might show up in a set of construction documents. Therefore from our new understanding of searchable documents, D01 adds value whereas 1 does nothing for us.

Continue Drawing ID sequence from previous LayoutThe other reason to consider a unique ID, rather than a generic one, is a consequence of the default available drawing titles. Unfortunately the built in drawing titles that Graphisoft provides can give you either a drawing number and sheet number or drawing number and back reference list. Well it can do all three, but the drawing title gets really ugly. For someone who knows GDL this should be a SUPER easy fix, since it’s just reconfiguring the data on NCS Drawing Title 2 16. But as it stands, if you want to use back references extensively like I discussed in the last post, then you’re looking at a drawing title with no sheet number (NCS Drawing Title 16, for instance). That is disappointing, but maybe a non-issue. If you think about labeling all drawings per type instead of per sheet, then adding the sheet number in the title is unnecessary. Imagine if all your elevations were E01 through E10, all your sections where S01 through S22, all your details were D01, D02, etc… the clarity of markers on various sheets and the number of ways to jump to the view expands greatly (hyperlinks, uniquely searchable text strings). Couple that with the reasons for doing sheets in grouped series, and a drawing’s ID and sheet number reveal a lot of information about what the drawing will contain.

That sounds very BIM, doesn’t it? Taking a dumb concept and making it smarter; embedding more data into it. The reason we didn’t do this in the past wasn’t because it’s a bad idea, but because it was too cumbersome to do manually. But we’re doing BIM; we’re using ArchiCAD. This can all be automated. Labeling drawings 1 through 24 or A through Z per sheet is just a convention. We do it because that’s how we’ve always done it. Not because it’s the best solution. On your next project, try a different way of labeling and see what happens.


  1. Tim Ball

    I haven’t tried it but presumably if you import external info such as manufacturers details as PDF then place them in a layout, you can hyperlink from say a detail to installation instructions using the layout reference

    I also create the schedule of work using Keynotes, place them on an A4 layout and print as a set. That way all the drawing notes and spec are integrated and again we could perhaps hyperlink from a drawing note to a spec item?

  2. Jared Banks

    Tim, yeah any placed PDF (or jpg, etc.) could be linked to in this way; if the external content is placed using the Drawing Tool (as opposed to drag and drop with the Figure Tool), then any markers would hotlink to that placed content. You wouldn’t even need to give the image or pdf a drawing title, if you chose.

    As for Keynotes, I’m sure there’s a way, but I’m not sure. It might get tricky. But there’d be some way. Of course if the Keynote annotation is unique enough, then a simple find and select would work.

  3. Anibal Boone

    The integrated layout book in AC10 makes it even easier to start layouts in advance, in the templates, and have them nearly ‘just work’. All the common layouts (that I can think of) are blocked up in the project templates. Developing the layouts consists mostly of framing the plan, tuning up the section/elevations, and arranging the drawings on the sheets.

  4. Tim Ball

    If you create a worksheet with a single specification text item in it and then place that as part of an array onto a layout, you should be able to hyperlink from the text note, to the relevant sheet to cross reference short drawing notes to extended specification notes. But what text label can you use to create the hyperlink?

    Not quite sure yet how practical this approach may be, but it would be an alternative to trying to hyperlink Keynotes.

    • Jared Banks

      Tim, interesting idea. Yeah that should work. Not sure what text note to use though. Probably something would work or some GDL wizard could tackle easily. I’ll have to think more on that and see what we can come up with.

  5. Tim Ball

    When will we be able to link BIMX hyperlinks to drawings or any other data?

    • Jared Banks

      I don’t know. We could include URLs in the drawings to BIMx files on the web, but going from BIMx to the documents or other data is a little trickier. The one thing I have done is place floating QR codes in the model (jpgs attached to materials (surfaces in 17) applied to thin floating walls). That allows a viewer of the BIMx model to navigate to a QR code, snap it with their phone and then pull up whatever webpage or data the QR code is referencing. A little bit of a kludge, but it works. And the floating QR codes can be on a separate layer (so can be turned on or off in BIMx), plus they definitely highlight that there’s something special about the area in the model.

      A more formal solution would be nice though!

  6. Dan Connelly

    Jared, thanks for posting some good ideas. The pdf with hyperlinks throughout is great for all concerned. Do you know of a way to hyperlink each drawing ID in the cover page Project Index to that drawing page in the set? We can do this in acrobat but that is ‘manual’ so a waste of time for documents that are being updated. Also a common ‘go back to cover page’ link on every sheet in the set would assist the process of interpreting big documents!

    • Jared Banks

      Dan, off the top of my head, I’m not sure how to make either of those work. But it should be doable. The back to page 1 could be done with a placed view or click-able marker in a view that links back to something on page 1 (maybe the sheet index?). A bit of a work around, but once set up should be very easy. Just a copy and paste and put on every sheet. Or if you incorporated that into your master layout, then it’d be there already for every new sheet.

      I checked and the sheet index isn’t a hyperlink. Maybe Graphisoft can fix that in a future version or perhaps there’s another solution. I’ll think on it.

      • Dan Connelly

        Yes the ‘back to page 1’ link now works fine. I used a section marker that was a ‘linked marker’ and the selected drawing was the ‘sheet index’. Not sure if there would be a better marker to use? I just stripped down the view to show only the words ‘back to contents page’. And yes I copied it onto all the master layouts.

        To go from the sheet index to each layout i’m sure I can create some kind of marker next to each drawing title in the list but it would be separate from the index list and hence have to be updated manually when the list updates. Shame that that Sheet index isn’t a hyperlink…

        Thanks mate!

  7. Jared Banks

    I think you could use a section marker or detail marker. I might lean towards detail marker because that feels more appropriate. But I don’t think it matters.

    As far as the sheet index as a hyperlink. Definitely agree. I’ve passed along word to people who could affect that change. We’ll see what happens.

  8. Paul Michael


    This is indirectly related to this series of discussions. Ive been searching for solutions to my problem and these links came up in the search, but are not the solution for me. I just started using multiple sources for my layout files and am having Marker Source Label problems. A little background. Some of my clients I design Residential Home Plans for also want me to produce Sales Literature without all of the Dimensions and Details. Since we have the limitation of only one layout book per project file, I needed a way to have a layout book for CD’s and another for Sales Literature. I don’t want them both in the same file because of sheet numbering issues i.e. “Sheet 1 of 34″… So I chose this method to accomplish that. I duplicate the CD file and rename it for SL. Then I delete all of the model information. I then relink all of the drawings in the layout book to the CD version that I set up for no Dimensions to show. Works beautiful, except that all Section, Elevation, & Detail markers don’t show the proper Number & Sheet Links. I think I understand why, because of new reference information not related to the original files. But is there a way for me to fix this so that it shows the proper information. The Layout Book is organized exactly the same in both versions. Any Ideas, or have I done something incredibly stupid? Thanks for any help with this

  9. Jared Banks

    Paul, I’m not sure about the solution. What are the markers showing instead? Why don’t you e-mail me with PDFs of the two sets: If you don’t mind sending me the actual .pln files I can take a look them too. But let’s do that as step 2. My guess is it’s either a quick stupid fix or something that can’t be done.

    Would another solution be to somehow alter the Sheet 1 of 34 situation. Like Make that not automatic, or not use it, or I don’t know. When I see it, I’m sure a solution will come to me.


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