Revit interface

by Design Workshop Sydney

Getting started with a new program can be daunting at first, but getting to know the Revit user interface is the first step. In this blog post we break down the workspace into its main elements, with a discussion of each, as well as a general project workflow. You can download the free 30-day trial version from the AutoDesk website. Due to Revit’s extensive capabilities it can take 30 minutes or so to download and install, so be patient!

When it’s downloaded onto your computer the Revit icon will appear on your Desktop – click on this to open the program. It usually takes a few minutes to open due to the many tool-sets and components within the software. Again – be patient. Once open Revit is a very fast program to operate.


To create a new blank 3D model click on the top left Application menu, and choose New > Project > Browse > AutoDesk > RVT2021 > Templates > Australia > Construction Default AUSENU > OK.

The Revit interface

There are about 12 main parts to the Revit interface. The largest element of the workspace is that Drawing Window – the large white rectangular space in the centre of the screen. This is where the 3D model and elevations will appear. Note the 4 elevation markers.

Above the Drawing Window we have the horizontal Ribbon which is very similar to that of AutoCAD and other AutoDesk programs. This efficient feature consists of Tabs, Panels and Tools. There are 11 tabs: Architecture, Structure, System, Insert, Annotate, Analyze, Massing & Site, Collaborate, View, Manage, and Modify. These cover the broad elements of an architectural or construction process, including the building and documentations aspects.

Click on the top left Architecture tab to view the various sub-elements involved in creating a 3D building: Walls, Doors, Windows, Roofs, etc. Each one has a drop-down arrow which reveals further tools and types within each category. The most commonly-used are on the top left.

In addition to these tabs we have temporary Contextual Tabs, which appear when we click on a certain tool, the functions of which become clear as we begin to build the 3D model. An Options bar will also open upon selecting each tool. There are also keyboard commands for many of the tools and functions, similar to AutoCAD. And by right-clicking on the Drawing Window itself a Context Menu will appear, with relevant functions.

Above the Ribbon, to the left, we have the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT); this contains several commonly-used tools and function, for easy access. The QAT can also be customized for your own particular needs. And at the top right we have the Info Center and Search field – use these for trouble-shooting and if you get stuck on a particular function.


To the left of the Drawing Window we have the Properties Palette – this is also contextual, depending on what we have selected. For example, if nothing is selected on a floor plan we see the properties of the window itself – the scale, the detail level, the colour scheme, etc. If a tool is selected, or an object like a wall, we will see the properties of that tool or object, eg. the material and thickness of the wall. We can also Edit the type if we want to change the material. Just about anything in Revit can be edited and customized. Many Australian Standard sizes of walls, doors, etc, can be loaded into the model. And you can download components from manufacturer’s websites, just like other CAD programs.

Revit 3D View
Revit 3D View

On the right-hand side we see the Project Browser – many users move this across the the left, to stack under the Properties Palette. The Project Browser allows us to see the various floor-plans, levels, elevations and sections of the model. We also have Legends, Schedules and Sheets. These make up the documentation aspect of the project. To see a specific elevation, for example, simply double-click on the label here, and a new tab will open in the Drawing Window – in this way the elevations and 3D model can be seen side-by-side.

On the very bottom of the screen we have the View Control Bar (left) and the Status Bar (right). These allow us to change the scale of annotations, the view details, as well as selection and filter toggles. And finally, on the top right corner we have a Navigation Bar with a few Zoom, Orbit and Pan tools & wheels.


A quick example: click on the Architecture tab (top left) > then choose Wall (top left) > note the contents of the Project Browser panel (left). Click the Type Selector (drop-down arrow) to see all the available wall types in this Australian Standards template.

Next hover over the Drawing Window, click and pull your cursor to one side. Type in a wall length and hit the Enter key. Then click on the 3D View icon in the Quick Access Toolbar at the very top of the interface – a new tab opens with a view of your new wall.

We would then proceed to add more wall, then doors and windows, etc.

In our Revit training courses we take time to teach a wide range of common techniques, relevant to industry practice. You can see many examples of our class work on our Facebook page.

In another blog post we discuss how Revit compares with AutoCAD. Watch this space for future blog posts on constructing 3D models in Revit.