Top Reasons You Can’t See an Element in Revit

By Roger Liucci | BIM, IT

People who are new to Revit are always having issues seeing everything in a project view.  I’ve seen and heard plenty of suggestions on what a user should or should not do to “expose” missing elements, but the following list is the most comprehensive checklist I’ve seen. There are many discussions on the topic. After each tip, if applicable, I’ll try to explain the methodology behind these suggestions.

Before we start, let’s discuss View Templates; the best way to control the view, especially if it’s going to be placed on a sheet. In my opinion, every view that is on a sheet should be defined by a template. One can apply a template. This would make the view properties change but will allow view property modifications. I recommend defining the view template within the properties of the view. This way the properties controlled by the view template are not editable, without removing the template or modifying the template and making the changes global to all views defined by the template. Of course in Revit 2019 we were given the opportunity to temporarily override the template when the view is closed the overrides are removed and the view is once again controlled by the view template.

  • The element or it’s category is hidden in the view.

Try using the “Reveal Hidden Elements” tool in the view control bar. Both hidden elements and hidden categories will be red while using this tool. Element overrides can be confusing to some. They check the Visibility Graphic Override dialog and the element’s category is on. Element overrides are harder to troubleshoot and use more system resources. Refrain from hiding elements in the view and stick with hiding the category. It’s most common and easier to troubleshoot. It also takes more system memory to manage element visibility overrides.

  • Is the view range set correctly to see the particular element?

In a training class, I always say, “If you don’t like something about the view, it’s either the view property or the element property that’s causing the issue.”

  • Is there a filter applied to the view that is causing the element to be hidden?

Filters allow the conditional statements to query the model elements in the view. Elements that match these criteria are selected or controlled by the property of the filter. Filters can change color, line weight, and visibility.

  • The object’s category or subcategory is hidden in the view
  • There is a category override in the view.

The Object Styles dialog is the best way to organize elements and there subcategories. Overriding these properties in a view is counterproductive. We should avoid unnecessary specificity.

  • Is the view’s detail level set correctly? Some families have elements that are controlled by subcategories and are set not to show at a coarse level of detail.
  • The object is a family and none of its geometry is set to be visible in the view type.
  • The object is set to not be visible at the category’s detail level

Create Revit families with fine detail elements on different subcategories and with different visibility graphic overrides.
For example, door handles should not be visible in plan and only visible in elevation when the view is set to fine. This is discussed in detail in our Revit Family Best Practices class.

  • Is the missing element outside the scope of the view.
  • Is the view cropped?
  • Is there a plan region in the view?
  • The object is outside the view’s view range
  • The view’s far clip depth is not sufficient to show the object
  • The object is constrained to a scope box that is not visible in the view. This changes the ability to see or edit the view’s crop.

A plan region is used in addition to the view crop. It’s only available in a plan view. It extends or limits the view range in a polygonal boundary. Many times, people use Scope Boxes to control the cop boundary of the view. There should be minimal scope boxes in the project.

The View Range is important because not only does this range control and limit what is seen, but also what is selectable. “Is the element within the view range or is the view hiding the element and its category?”

  • Is the view “Discipline” set correctly?

Click here for Autodesk’s description of the tool and view property, Discipline.  Why does it need an explanation, because it’s odd and un-editable?

  • Is the correct Workset being used?
  • The object resides on a workset that is not loaded within the project
  • The object resides on a workset that is not visible in the view, that is not loaded in a linked file, that is not visible in a linked file.

Manage worksets and maintain the project standards for Workset use. Worksets can be used to improve performance. I don’t think hiding worksets is the best use of this element instance property. Worksets are not Layers and should not duplicate element categories. Consider creating worksets with names of zones or regions that can be opened or closed. Think AutoCAD Xref’s or external referenced files, levels, zones, or building wings. Also, use worksets for the ability to close all links using that workset. Linked Revit Architecture models, Structure, and MEP models should each have their own workset. I use a workset to close all drawings linked to the project. One-click in the workset dialog and all linked CAD and the DWGs are no longer loaded or visible. The workset is closed or unloaded from being regenerated. We can also control worksets within linked files, to close or open, load, or unload worksets. All project members should be using a unified workset methodology.

  • Is the element part of a design option and perhaps that isn’t the current option for that particular view?
  • The object resides within a group (detail model) and it has been excluded from the group

I always teach the proper use of design options and Groups. Please refer to my blog; “Top 12 Tips for Utilizing Revit Groups”

  • Is the element in the correct phase and is an appropriate phase filter set in the view to make it visible?
  • The object is part of a linked file that is not visible in the view
  • The object has one or more of its edges overridden to display as <Invisible lines>
  • The element is an annotation object and does not reside entirely within the annotation crop region
  • The object’s phase settings or the view’s phase settings prevent the object from displaying in the view
  • The view’s discipline is prohibiting the visibility of the object
  • The object visibility override is set to background-color
  • The extents of the object itself don’t permit it to be seen
  • The object is a mass, and ‘Show Mass’ is turned off
  • The object’s host view has been deleted (area boundaries)
  • The view’s scale is prohibiting the object’s visibility
  • The object is being obscured by another element.
  • Is the object hosted on an incorrect surface like a floor instead of a ceiling?

Strange things happen when the extent of a Revit project is exceeded. If a point cloud is linked in, it can cause this to be true. The results are unpredictable.

  • The user has incorrectly identified the link instance to which the element belongs
  • The object is in a link that is not in its correct position

This is also by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a pretty good place to start.

Do you have other valuable suggestions you’ve found as well? Drop us a note at I’d love to see this list grow over time if need be.



INDUSTRIES: Architecture, Buildings, Civil Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, Construction, MEP Engineering, Structural Engineering

Published on January 5, 2021 in BIM, IT.

About the Author

Roger, our senior BIM specialist, specializes in all things architecture & construction and has been with Microsol Resources since 2001. He provides technical support for our architectural, interiors, construction and engineering clients.