Pesky Point Tables and How to Beat Them Into Submission

Tonight’s post comes to you courtesy of Texas Pete, also known as James Sherman of CDG Engineers & Associates.  I’ve spent this week enjoying the company of the Civil 3D side of CDG, giving some update training on Civil 3D 2008 and some advanced training with them – I was almost sure that they would hate me after today’s corridor exercise, but they persevered and made their way through a fairly difficult exercise.    I’m proud of them…

In our discussions yesterday, the question of point tables came up.    More specifically, a custom point table for site benchmarks.   We were able to get one heckuva nice table created, but there was one component that we couldn’t get rid of – the pesky point number.   I emailed the team and copied Nick Zeeben, and the reply was “I don’t think you can get rid of that pesky point number.”   At approximately the same time that I popped that email up on the big screen, Texas Pete announced that he thought he had it beat.    I tested it, verified the solution, and promised him that I’d report it here and give him due credit for one heckuva workaround.    Follow the link to find out how he accomplished this.


As you can see above, I’ve got this table created with all the information in the order and with the look that the client is requesting – with one major problem and one small difference – I left the color fill on in the table style and it has those darn point numbers visible.    At first, I thought it would be easy to get rid of, so I went in search of an answer in the table style dialog box…


I clicked the Point # column, and then forcefully pressed the big red X – after all, that deletes the column, doesn’t it?   Not in this case…mistakenly thinking that I didn’t press the button hard enough (as if it could feel the pressure of my chubby fingers on the mouse,) I clicked again with more force.    Nothing.    Thinking that for some reason the button would respond to multiple clicks, I tried that (don’t we go through weird processes when computers don’t behave as we think they should???)   Needless to say, that didn’t work either.  So I began to wonder if it were possible to delete a column at all…that thinking led me to pick another column and press the big red X.   That column went away before I could blink.   Hmmm…on to more troubleshooting.   I glanced around the dialog box and noticed something pretty important – SORT DATA!   Well, that box was checked, and my Sorting Column was column 1.    Now we’re getting somewhere….since that column is obviously an anchor of sorts, of course I can’t delete it.    So, I move the sorting column to column 2.   Now, I’ve finally beaten this table…select the column, click the red X, then open my eyes and exhale….the damn thing’s still there!  

In the frenzied mouse movements that took place at that moment (fortunately I wasn’t using my wireless mouse at the time, or it would have taken flight – it has done that quite a bit,)  I noticed that I could grab a column and move it.   This made me pause for another second…if I could move the point number, maybe I could delete it.    Hey, it’s worth a shot.   So I clicked on it and tried to move it.    Won’t budge.   I considered going down the street and renting a nice yellow bulldozer and hooking it to the first column to try and yank it out of the way, but wasn’t sure how to explain it on my expense report.

So I admitted defeat.   

Then, the whisper from the class – “I think I’ve got it.”

Here’s how he did it –

Notice that the order of my columns in the current state goes  as follows:   Point Number, Raw Description, Elevation, Northing, Easting.    This is almost what I want, with the exception of the removal of the point number.    So, to accomplish this task, I’m going to edit the contents of the Raw Description cell.   Yes, you heard me right, the Raw Description Cell.  


Why do I want to be in this cell?  Well, if you select the code on the right (the <[Raw Description(CP)]> part,) you can right click on it and copy it – just like in any word processor.   This might prove useful, so let’s try it.   Next, I want to go muck around in the point number cell and see what trouble I can cause.    So let’s open that one up.


If you look at the components that you can add here, you’ll see that your options are severely limited – Point Number and Name.   Ugh – not only can I not delete it, but I can’t pick anything that might be useful to me.   However, if I select the code and right click and select PASTE – well, now we have something interesting here.    We’ve got the    <[Raw Description(CP)]> code in our point number text box.   Well…this is nice.   Now I can go in and change the column title too.  

Looking at the table style dialog box now, I can see that I have two columns for Description…


And, even better – since I’ve always been able to delete that second column, one swift click of the ol’ red X gets me to where I want to be.


Clicking OK at this point takes me back to my edited table, and I can see that it’s exactly what the client is requesting:


This just goes to prove – if the program doesn’t do what you want out of the box, beating it into submission is sometimes a viable option.    Thanks again, Texas Pete!

Have fun! 


  1. John M. says:

    Excellent Jason. Thanks. It looks like we can have the same type of fun with Parcel tables. Unfortunately I have tried with Alignment tables & they don’t seem to follow suit. 🙁

  2. works for surface analysis tables, too, to get rid of “range number”

  3. Rahul Jairath says:

    ok.. this has been help ful
    but i need little more guidnace.

    casue all i get is in th column field.

    i created a new expression ({Point Number}-15) (under expressions, of point-label styles)

    the labels come correctly so then i created table and i copied that same string which works fine in column 2 into column one. but then it doesn’t work

    what i noticed is when you paste string from default labels you can see in the edit and format box but when you paste string from the user defined expression you get a blank format area only in the first column, which leads me to belive i did not creat my user defined expression correctly