Civil 3D: Disabling Dynamic Heights for Annotations

November 23, 2021 Leo Lavayen

Civil 3D annotations are dynamic in height by default, unlike basic AutoCAD that requires configuration and workflows for “annotative” functionality.  The Civil 3D label style will ignore any value for size set in the base Text Style configuration.

The driving factor is the assigned Text Height parameter (0.1000”) set in the Layout tab of the in the Label Style Composer dialog box.  The height (plotted height) will be multiplied by the drawing scale in model space or paper space (layouts).

This dynamic functionality allows you to focus on design, to effortlessly create sheets where - regardless of viewport scales - annotations will remain a constant plotted height.  Shown below with a 1:10 scale (left) and 1:20 scale (right) annotations on the Parcel and the Points are a consistent plotted height of 0.1.

There is NO way of disabling this functionality.  The layers the Annotations use can be turned off or frozen, but the annotation will ALWAYS want to dynamically adjust, causing clutter at times.  For example, at a 1:40 scale (left) text behaves well, but if we Zoom to Extents (right) annotations looks exaggerated.

Not that that “view to extents” would be plotted, but at times larger scales of an entire site are needed.  The driving force here is text is being scaled up to a plotted height, in this case 0.1.

As previously mentioned, Civil 3D labels always react to the set Drawing Scale in model space or paper space.  Unlike some objects styles such as Point Styles or Structure Styles that offer up options to control Size behaviors, in addition to “drawing scale”.

Let’s get creative and see how to control Parcel and Point label heights.  Leveraging the Expressions section within in each category to set a predetermined “fixed” height value.


Its not recommended to work against the software and how it was intended to be used, but in this case, let’s look at this as adding functionality.  From the Toolspace > Settings tab > Labels Styles collection right click on the Expression category and select New  From the dialog box the desired fixed height will be assigned (2) and then divided by the Drawing Scale Conversion

The created Expression, a height of 2’ is to be held as a fixed height.  The custom expression then needs to be assigned from the Label Style Composer dialog box > Layout tab > Text section > Text Height field:


Notice the results below:

  • Orange text is holding its height 2’ (using expression), appears as different sizes in views.
  • Green text is scaled plotted height of 0.1” (default behavior), appears as same height in views.

Because this is not an out-of-the-box feature it will take some configuration.  Here only a control for a height of 2’ was added, any other sized would need an Expressions and matching Label Styles created.

I hope you enjoyed this write up, this idea can be applied to any Civil 3D labels for a “fixed” height behavior.

About the Author

Leo Lavayen

Civil Applications Expert<br><br>As an Applications Expert, Leo is responsible for supporting, training and implementation of software for survey and civil engineering professionals. He has more than 17 years of experience helping large and small, public and private clients in the eastern United States.

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