March 2, 2016

Revit MEP Revisit #1 -- Easy Editing of Type Catalogs from Revit Using Microsoft Excel

A type catalog is a simple list with a range of type parameter values for a Revit family that has a considerable variety of sizes, usually a dozen or more options. Typical examples include Windows, Doors, Columns Beams and a wide range of MEP components too.

For this blog I will be using the “Supply Diffuser” family that is included with the out-of-the-box Mechancial-Default Revit MEP template file (refer to Fig. 1).  However, no matter what disciple the catalog relates to, the type catalog is a text file with the same name as the family it accompanies. It must also reside in the same directory as the RFA family file except it will have a “.TXT” extension. To add extra options one could always add extra lines of text in a simple text editor like Notepad or Notepad ++, but judging where to start typing or which values to copy is not always obvious, especially with a large number of values with long entries, if you make any mistakes you can break the catalog!

Fig. 1
Now, this particular family “Supply Diffuser”, does NOT have a type catalog with the family.  That is not a problem. For this example, I will navigate to the Revit Application Menu (the big blue R), click on the “R”, navigate down to the “export” selection and then select type catalog. This will export the current built-in family types to a text (.txt) file. Refer to Fig. 2. 

Fig. 2
Simply save this text file to the location where your family is (or will) reside.  For this exercise I created a folder for both my family and text file. Below is the example of the confusion of trying to read or edit the type catalog text file in Notepad. Refer to Fig. 3.

So, instead of the above, I am going to use Excel to add extra definitions like more sizes and other varying Type Parameters. To do this take a copy of the TXT file, this is the type catalog file. Taking a copy is advised just in case mistakes occur! Start the Excel application We want to start a blank spreadsheet and import the shared parameters text file into it. Refer to Fig. 4.

Fig. 4
We can do this by setting the following Opening and Import Data Options:
  • Open
  • Choose a Blank spreadsheet
  • DATA
  • From text
  • Locate file
  • Import
  • Delimited
  • My data has headers
  • Comma only delimiter
  • Text qualifier none (check preview)
  • Next (few times)
  • Finish
  • Make sure that the start is at the A1 range
  • OK
Refer to Figs. 5 through 8.

Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Hitting OK will bring the catalog in to an easily editable Excel Row and Column format.  For the screen shot below I zoomed my sheet out.   

Fig. 9
After performing the needed edits and additions, simply save the file out to CSV format (Comma Separated Value). Remember and make sure to rename the extension (or better yet copy to a .txt format). Double-check the name of the file, it has to have the same name (as the family it relates too) and put it in the same location as where the family is located. If the family already has a catalog file, it is wise to rename the old catalog as FILENAME.OLD just in case!  Also ensure you close down Excel afterwards to remove any Windows File Locks.  Start Revit, and open a project and load the desired family, Revit will automatically look for the accompanying catalog and will display the additional family types and modified parameters that you added from Excel. 

Thank you for reading. For more information on Revit MEP and other Autodesk products, and information on training and consulting for the various products Ideate services, visit our website at

Senior Application Specialist MEP/AEC Solutions
Bill has over 25 years experience in applying MEP & AEC design solutions for large commercial companies, this has led to actively develop Autodesk® Revit® implementation strategies, techniques, and procedures for architectural and MEP companies. He has worked for TEECOM Design Group, GTE/GTEL, Greg LeDoux and Associates, and Scottish Power in England. Bill is an Autodesk MEP Implementation Certified Expert, and has been the Lead Designer for several multimillion dollar communication sites which have included structural, electrical, HVAC, conduit, cable plans and equipment layouts. He graduated from the Pasadena Institute of Technology and has a Sustainable Design Certification from the University of California at Berkeley.