Mastering Marker (and thus Drawing) references is a paradigm shift when moving from the old ways to ARCHICAD. Once upon a time, we had to spend hours coordinating all this information. Do the sections on the plans reference the right section numbers on the sections sheet. Do the detail bubbles reference the right details. What about the interior elevations and enlarged plans? I have hazy memories of being an intern tasked with checking all the references before we printed the permit documents. That concept is so foreign and distant to me now. Marker references are automatic, invisible, and just something that works…if you know what’s going on and have a proper system set up.

Six Marker Tools

There are six Marker Tools in ARCHICAD: Section, Elevation, Interior Elevation, Detail, Worksheet, and Change Markers. For this article we’re going to ignore Change Markers, as they are the one type of marker that doesn’t have a Marker Reference. That’ll make sense in a moment. Below is a brief introduction to the five Marker Tools we will discuss in this article. In a (theoretical) future article, we will discuss the various Marker Tools—and their benefits—in more detail.

Section and Elevation Markers are very similar and can almost be used interchangeably. The primary difference is that they are made with different Tools, have different looking markers, and are segregated in the Project Map. Interior Elevation Markers are very similar to Sections and Elevations but have a number of unique features (such as one Interior Elevation Marker containing multiple Viewpoints). Changes made to 3D elements in Sections, Elevations, and Interior Elevations will appear everywhere else in the model: these Viewpoints are bi-directional.

The Detail and Worksheet Markers are also interchangeable with each other, but they are very different from Sections and Elevations. For the specifics on the difference between a Worksheet and a Detail read this. The primary difference between Details/Worksheets and Sections/Elevations is that these marker types do not create a bi-direction link to the model; they are not live Viewpoints like a Section, Elevation, or Interior Elevation. Instead they generate 2D copies of the graphic data contained within the Marker Bounding Area. For Detail and Worksheet Source Markers, these 2D elements can be rebuilt from their source. This regenerates all original content contained within the Marker Bounding Area (returning elements to their original/current model state), but does not affect any additional elements placed or drafted within the Viewpoint.

Three Marker Types

source linked or unlinked

Markers can be placed in one of three ways: a Source Marker, a Linked Marker, or an Unlinked Marker. A Source Marker is a marker that creates a new source or Viewpoint in the Project Map. A Linked Marker references an already placed View, Viewpoint or Drawing. Only one Source Marker can exist for a given Viewpoint, but there can be multiple Linked Markers. Often Linked Markers are used to provide a reference in secondary locations. For instance if you have a Source Marker for your cross section in plan, you might want to place a Linked Marker that references that same cross section on your elevations. We can place any Marker but an Interior Elevation Marker as a Linked (or Unlinked) Marker in any type of Viewpoint—Section, Elevation, Plan, 3D Document, Worksheet, etc. Interior Elevation Markers can only be Source Markers. If you want to link to an Interior Elevation View in a secondary location, link to that View using another Marker Tool (for instance reference an interior elevation with a linked Elevation Marker on an enlarged floor plan created with a Detail Marker).

Fun Fact: If you create a Detail or Worksheet of an area showing a non-Interior Elevation Marker, the Markers will automatically show up in the Detail or Worksheet as Linked Markers.

Using a Source or Linked Marker is good BIM. Using an Unlinked marker with manual text is paramount to going back to the archaic stone ages of architectural documentation, where each marker was manually referenced to each detail, section, elevation, etc. Why do Unlinked Markers exist then? I know of two uses: occasionally you need to manually reference a consultant’s detail that does not appear in the Layout Book. Often this is a structural detail. Of course you could place that detail as a PDF on a Layout and link to that, but sometimes there are external drawings that will never appear in ARCHICAD. This is not great BIM, but sometimes it’s what happens. And it’s valuable for ARCHICAD to have a solution for this situation that aligns with the other Markers you’ll have on your drawings (it’d be horrible if we had to create these markers with lines, fills, and text because our tools were too pure to have manual override capabilities). The other reason to use Unlinked Markers are as placeholders. Often you know there will be a detail in a location, but you haven’t created it yet. Unlinked Markers are great for placing markers in all the locations you WILL need to detail. Once you have created the details (by whichever method makes the most sense), you can change the Marker’s Type back to Linked Marker and select the View you want. This work flow is particularly useful when the person deciding what needs to be detailed is not the person doing the details. Or when the person doing the details is not as skilled at creating views and building up the Layout Book.

type reference path status

Four Marker References

Once you have decided whether to use a Source Marker that generates a new Viewpoint or a Linked Marker that points towards existing content, the next decision is how the marker will reference the data. Will it reference a View, Viewpoint or Drawing. A Drawing is what a View becomes when it is placed on a Layout. We’ll cover Drawings (and Figures) in a future post.

Source and Linked Markers can have one of four Marker reference types: The selected viewpoint, The selected drawing, The first drawing of the selected viewpoint, or The first drawing of the selected view.

which option

The selected viewpoint: The marker will reference the Project Map. Since a viewpoint cannot be placed to a Layout, the only options are to reference the Project Map Reference ID and Name in the marker. Unless you manually type in custom text there is no way to reference the actual Drawing or Layout ID. If you haven’t saved a View of what the Marker references, you could display the Marker along with the Viewpoint’s ID or Name. There is only one instance where I can see this being of value: if you have temporary/working Sections and Elevations that are created to help you understand the project. Typically every project has one or two of these. This option connects the Marker to the Project Map.reference viewpointThe selected drawing: The marker will reference a Drawing once a View has been placed onto a Layout. This is an appealing option, since it allows you to reference Linked Markers to any Drawing on any Layout. But it does require you to save the View and place it onto a Layout before placing the Linked Marker. It also requires you to be careful about where you place views onto Layouts. If a View needs to move to a new sheet, you can not simply cut and paste the drawing to a new Layout, because the Marker referencing the Drawing will not link to the new Drawing. Instead you need to drag the Drawing in the Layout Book to a new Layout on the list. The primary reason to use this option is if the Marker is referencing external content that only exists in the Layout Book (such as a PDF from a consultant or your generic detail library). However if the content you are referencing is native to the ARCHICAD file, we can do better, and make your BIM more automated. This option connects the Marker directly to the Layout Book.

elevation marker

The first placed drawing of the selected viewpoint: This is a great option if you only use the selected Viewpoint one time (as is often, but not always the case with Elevations, Sections, and Interior Elevations). If that Viewpoint is saved to the View Map in several places with different scales, Layer Combinations, Model View Options, etc., the Marker will only reference the first of those Views that is placed onto a Layout. For example, a building section Viewpoint is saved to the View Map at ¼” with view settings for a construction section. Then it is saved to the View Map at ⅛” with view settings for an insulation diagram. Then it is saved to the View Map at 1” with view settings for a wall section. The Linked marker will only reference the first of those Views that is placed onto a layout, so your building section marker could very well be referencing an incorrect Drawing and Layout (imagine the marker is supposed to reference the building section, but the insulation diagram shows up earlier in the set). This is an acceptable option if every marker is a Source Marker. It allows for a more flexible drawing placement workflow than referencing a Drawing directly. But it is not foolproof because the Marker is not concretely linked to a specific View. If the order of the views in the Layout Book referencing a given Viewpoint changes over time, the Markers could be affected. This option connects the Marker to the Layout Book via the Project Map.

The first placed drawing of the selected view: This option is my favorite and it is the most dynamic in it’s ability to reference a saved View rather than a Viewpoint. The Marker and View are directly linked. If a Viewpoint is saved to the View Map three times as in the above example of construction section, insulation section, and wall section, the marker will reference the selected View. This means that even if a Layout or Drawing is deleted, then the View is placed to a different Layout, the marker will automatically reference this new Drawing ID and Layout ID. This option connects the Marker to the Layout book via the View Map. It is the strongest connection between Marker and View.

manual vs automatic

Marker Text

In addition to setting the correct reference for a Marker, we also need to make sure the Marker text is showing the correct data. The Marker text content is controlled under the Marker Symbol and Text tab of the Selection Settings. There are several Marker types in the ARCHICAD library, but all have options for two rows of text. Both rows can reference a Drawing or custom text. Again, do not use custom text if your goal is to get to a smarter, faster, automated BIM.

The first row of text can include the Reference ID, the Viewpoint Name (both from the Project Map/Marker Source settings), and the Drawing ID. Typically the first row references the Drawing ID, since the Reference ID requires a certain amount of manual checking and synchronization with the Layout Book. The second row can include the Viewpoint Name or Layout ID. The default is to reference the Layout ID so that the marker will correlate with the correct Layout Book sheet. Marker text should be set up when you are creating Favorites in your template. Select Show Drawing ID and Show Layout ID as part of your Favorite creation and then never worry about it. If you don’t use Favorites for creating new Markers, you risk Marker Text getting messed up and wrecking havoc on your otherwise automated system. marker reference text

Marker Status

There are three marker status settings available: Auto-rebuild, Manual-rebuild and Drawing. Only Sections, Elevations, and Interior Elevations have these three choices. Details and Worksheets are always a manual rebuild drawing.


Auto-rebuild is exactly what it sounds like. It is a Marker Viewpoint that is dynamically linked to the 3D model so that any changes that are made are automatically referenced in the section and visa-versa. An Auto-rebuild viewpoint is bi-directional and live. Manual-rebuild requires the View or Viewpoint to be selected and rebuilt from the Marker. Manual-rebuild Viewpoints are an acceptable option for troublingly slow sections, but can cause errors in documentation if not careful. Typically if your Viewpoints are so slow that they need to be set to Manual-rebuild, you should probably do an audit of your model to figure out if there’s some user error causing the slowdown. The third marker status is Drawing. This is basically turning whatever marker type you are using into a Detail Marker. Instead of your Section or Elevation being a live view of the model, it becomes a static, disconnected 2D copy. A Marker Viewpoint set to Drawing takes the content that is shown and turns it into Lines and Fills. A Marker set to Drawing might be useful for creating static 2D details, for doing design studies of a facade where it’s valuable to work in 2D, for end of project changes where the cost-benefit of 2D views over 3D views is calculated and understood, or for newer users who don’t have the time or skill set to complete a live 3D view created from a Marker. To rebuild either a Manual-rebuild or Drawing Viewpoint from the source, open the Viewpoint, right click on empty space and select Rebuild From Source View. 

I’ll end this post with a brief example of the cost-benefit analysis of making changes to a 2D Drawing rather than a live 3D view. Back in 2010, I was working on this project at SALA Architects. After construction had started, we needed to change the height of the garage and send the contractor one new sheet showing the updated section and elevations. I knew that if changing the height of the garage caused any problems, the contractor would solve the issues in the field. I didn’t want the 3D model to tell me if we were making a mistake or causing new complications. I just needed to issue the new sheet as quickly as possible, with as little fuss as possible. So I turned the Elevations and Section into Drawings, quickly made the changes manually to the resulting 2D (thank you marquee!), and reissued the one affected sheet.

Bonus Reading

Have you ever wondered why we don’t just have one marker type for sections, elevations, interior elevations, details, and worksheets? It’s all about the Project Map and Clone Folders. I’ll aim to write more on that topic in the near future, but in the meantime check out these old posts:

  1. ARCHICAD Template Basics: View Map and Layout Book
  2. The Organizer… aka the Navigator’s Big Brother (in this post and video I talk about Clone Folders)
  3. Bonus Point about the Organizer in ARCHICAD

And that reminds me, this is a good time to reference my series on Hyperlinks in ARCHICAD:

  1. Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 1)
  2. Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 2)
  3. A Question of Labeling: Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 3)
  4. Connecting to Non-Local Data: Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 4)

Bonus Video!

A few days after publishing this article, I recorded a quick video showing how to put Section Markers into an Elevation. Check it out:

Showing Section Markers in Elevations in ARCHICAD

Are you following Graphisoft North America on Twitter? Click Here to keep track of all the latest ARCHICAD News in North America (and beyond). What didn’t I mention regarding the basics of Markers in ARCHICAD? Let me know in the comments.



  1. Mats Knutsson

    You should write a book. Nuff said!

    • Jared Banks

      🙂 Thanks. I dream about it. Perhaps someday. I actually like blog writing though, because the ideas get shared faster! And people can share comments.

  2. Douglas Godfrey

    The marker tools have come a long way since I started using Archicad back in the ’90s. Your ‘Fun Fact’ hinted a something I have wished the tools could do, automatically add linked references to sections/elevations and details in the area specified. Currently I have to manually add the linked references in the building sections and elevations, which is bit of a pain but worth it. I didn’t know it was possible for the detail or worksheet to exactly that. Thanks for sharing or I wouldn’t have known, because I hardly have a need for references in detail and worksheets. Hope Graphisoft adds this feature to the section and elevation tools in the future.

  3. ankit

    Im new to archicad..been using revit for the last 3.5 years. I want to know how can I reference a independent detail (callout) in plans, elevations, sections?? For eg. if I draw a detail of an external corner junction as a independent detail (detail that I get from manufacturer’s website and paste it into archicad independent detail) and make a callout in the plan that references to the detail and the sheet no.? It seems all this easy stuff that can be done in revit is so difficut in archicad!

    • Jared Banks

      What you are looking to do is very easy in ARCHICAD. So no need to blame the tool. Remember you have lots of experience with Revit and very little in ARCHICAD. The article above should give you just about all the information you need to know. Create the detail. Save a View. Place the View on a Layout. Place a Linked Detail Marker (that references the detail you want, see above) on the View (plan, elevation, section). Done. Within the Detail Marker Tool you can decide what shape you want the detail bubble to be (rectangular, clipped corners, circular, just a line, etc.).

      • ankit

        thanks jared..much appreciated..

  4. Clare

    my marker text is not in the marker circle and I cant move it

    • Jared Banks

      Clared, I’d recommend posting on along with a screenshot of what the marker looks like along with which marker you are using. Someone will be able to troubleshoot the issue quickly.


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