Double Labeling for Differently Scaled Drawings with Civil 3D Label Text

In my post a few days ago about theMiracle and Reality of Autosizing Label Text, it became clear that you would need a strategy to manage labels for different viewport scales.

If you need to manage this in the same drawing, here are some ideas that might help make things more clear. The only method I use below that would not work in Civil 3D 2006 is the General Note Label for duplicate parcel areas.


The same site has to be shown at 1″=100′ for an over all plan, while my road plans need to be shown at 1″=50′. Not only is text size an issue, but also the content. My parcels don’t have to show nearly as much information in the overall plan. Without a double labeling strategy, this is what I wind up with:

So we need to make a second set of labels. This isn’t hard and it is certainly easier than maintaining two sets of dtext (argh). I remember a piping project that I worked on. I was paired up with an AWESOME CAD guy named Dave. (Hi Dave!) We were constantly changing lengths, inverts and other such on these storm pipes. Since the agency required both overall plans and detailed plans, that meant TWO SETS of dtext that we had to remember to change every time. And since I am a fickle designer, poor Dave was changing a lot of text. It was awful.

Double labeling is different. We anticpate this situation in our Civil3D.dwt, so these styles will be set up once you set them up the first time. And all we have to do is set the labels in- they will change with the model.


Copy your label syles in question, or make child styles for them. In the copies, change size and layer (plus anything else you might want different at the other scale) Then make an alignment label set that includes both types. Just choose this label set when you make your alignment the first time, OR if your alignment is already in the drawing pick it, right click choose edit labels and import your label set.

Same thing. Copy the label style in question, make size and layer changes. Don’t forget to check things like x and y offset.

Parcel “Multiple Segment” label choice is smart enough not to duplicate a label on a given segment, so you will have to use the single segment choice and manually choose your midpoint.

This one doesn’t work in 2006 since reference text does not exist in 2006, however it works for this and many other situations in Civil 3D 2007. For those of you in 2006, see below. I am pretty sure you can use the next trick for some tasks.

Make a general note label with a piece of reference text that references parcels. When you insert the label, it will ask you to pick a parcel. Note text isn’t smart enough to find the center of the parcel you pick, so you have to manually place.

I just checked- this works in 2006 as well.

Fields are way underused by most AutoCAD users. Since Civil 3D is built on AutoCAD, you have access to them.

Fields can be called up in dtext, mtext, tables, and more. This is static from a size and rotation perspective, but the data will change with your model.

Make a piece of dtext (or mtext) oriented and sized the way you’d like. Before typing, right click and choose insert field.

In the fields box, find the object section of the pulldown and choose your parcel (push the little picker button circled here) then choose Name. (NOTE: This means your parcel NAME not number. It is easy to make Name=Number if you go into the parcel style and turn off the name template option, or just make your name template=number)

The field will populate with the parcel number. If you haven’t used fields before, don’t let the grey scare you. It just means “I am a field”. It doesn’t plot or do anything stupid.

This is a great solution, but note that it will not react to dview twist nor autosize like Civil 3D labels.

The end result- I apply layer control to turn off my 0.08″ Labels and TADA!

Everyone is happy.
Except James. (Addendum by Dana because I hadn’t thought about things the same way that my mentor, Mr. Wedding did. And I’d like to share his thoughts)

There are a few other ways to deal with this.

1) Using the Note label for the “extra stuff”. For example, in my parcels above, I could alternatively use the note for the Owner, Area, etc. and find a compromise for a readable Lot Number. That way, there is no redundant information. The same technique could be used for many things. These are just ideas.

2) Using the project environment you can create a data reference (see James’s comment below)

There are many ways to tackle this and a lot of it depends on how you work now, how you’d like to work, what requires the least amount of steps and how picky your review agencies and clients are. Keep your comments coming- this helps me help our clients better.


  1. The Dinosaur says:

    Excellent stuff Dana. These labels that needed to be placed in an intelligent manner have been dealing me fits. I found that placing the labels correctly for the larger scale plans gave very poor results as well. A very busy lot that needed some labels in a dragged state looked absurd with these leadered labels out in the middle of a lot for no reason. I think now I might consider trying all of these new techniques and finally leave my r13 and EaglePoint behind on my next new project!

  2. Jeff_M says:

    Good stuff, as always, Dana! It amazes me how quickly you come up with solutions or workarounds. Thanks, and keep ’em coming.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Autodesk really should have a separate scale control for absolute text sizing. It couldn’t be that hard to implement and would be immensely useful. As wonderful as absolute text size is, it can just be an absolute pain to work with if you are constantly switching paper sizes. Just one more drop box in the paper space controls would almost make up for the constant crashing in 2007.

    Your hints are a welcome stopgap technique.

  4. Just one thought to consider is that if you’re in a project environment, you’re typically going to have different sheets for all of these, and creating the Data Reference through Vault will allow the same level of control (Data Ref instead of Xref C3D Objects) without the duplicity in the label set.

    This is great information though, thanks for the work, Dana!

  5. forgive my ignorance, but does vault share parcels?

  6. and on that note, if the only reason you would share the item, such as an alignment, is the additionally sized label, i would argue that it is actually less efficient to set up the share from the get go.

    or is it…?

  7. Jason Hickey says:

    No, Vault does NOT share parcels. There are a few workarounds, but I haven’t found one that I like yet.

    It’s a major sore spot with me, by the way. Since you asked that question, I’m going to have to visit my therapist this afternoon 😉