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Keynotes: Best Practices Question

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I've been using the Keynote tool  and I'm very happy with how it's cleaning up my drawings.



One issue I've started noticing is that some contractors (it's always the concrete guys!) are referring to objects by the keynote number, not the Object Letter description in the callout.


           i.e.     keynote #6 refences  "GABION WALL (B)" - but they will say "gabion wall #6"


This would be fine, but of course on another sheet "Gabion wall (B)" is reference by keynote #11 - and keynote #6 refences something completely different - like "finished edge of coping".


This makes for difficult communication between everyone.



My current practice is to label all my objects by letter and my keynotes by number  - but this confusion of keynote number and the callout in the description has happened quite a few times and I feel it represents badly on our drawings.



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This is the problem with coding systems in general, be it keynotes, details on sheets, sections on sheets, etc.  if you repeat the use of numbers, errors or miscommunications will occur.  As landscape people, you and I have a little more freedom than architects and engineers in terms of how we approach these problems simply due to the reduced volume of information, materials, and products used.  Here’s a mind dump on similar topics I had while back…


When I have to use keynotes, I adopt a “no duplication” policy just like my models and drawing, meaning there is a master set of keynotes for the entire project and there numbers do not change from sheet to sheet.  This avoids errors and omissions.  Generally, I avoid using keynotes on plans and major sections unless the scale of the drawing requires their space saving qualities.  Using regular typed out descriptions on plans, sections, and elevations is easier for the reader and better comprehension/results in fewer errors, the goal being clear and accurate communication.  On projects with specifications tied to a system such as CSI Masterformat, the use of keynotes tied to spec codes does have certain advantages on very large projects both from a coordination/error reduction standpoint, especially when you are working with Contacts/QS people.  When I was in Kuwait working in a multilingual office and construction sites, these systems had the added advantage of being more universal in terms of accurate language since Masterformat is kind of like math in that regard.  Staff could get Masterformat training in their native languages and still understand the what a keynote was pointing to.  When specs and drawings would get translated to Arabic, the identification of an object did not require translation since it was a code, only the instruction on what to do with it was translated, again… error reduction. Using standardized systems such as Masterformat, instead of home brewed methods, has its merits.


Similarly, when I do sections and details, each is drawing is given a unique identifier.  This way, you can break from architectural tradition of resequential numbering on each sheet.  Example, say you have detail sheets that holds 12 details and your project has 3 detail sheets.  Traditionally each of those 3 sheets would have a detail number 1 and your references to that detail would require referencing the sheet number where they appear.  If you move a detail from one sheet to another, the number will likely change and all the sheet references.  While there are smart markers to coordinate these types of changes, if you use serialized detail numbering, you do not have to use any sheet number or any smart markers that can break when used incorrectly.  I adopted this process a long time ago prior to the development of smart markers.  It makes creating detail books for a project or a central library far more logical as well. I use a manufacturing-like product numbering system where the identifier tells the reader something about a detail (P for plant, I for irrigation, L for lighting, etc).  This keeps the length of numbers smaller on very large projects too.  The architects I work with either love or hate this idea, typically a function of how long they have been in the industry 🙂  All that being said, I do use the smart markers for coding enlarged plans and sections because they work pretty well now and have the added benefit of automatically hyperlinking when published to PDF.  This is so nice when taking plans into the field on a tablet.  In time, I may employ this on my details.  Imagine if this was easily accomplished with keynotes linked to specifications.


Ultimately, my preference is to write it out rather than use codes in an effort to create friendly drawings.  I also shy away from abbreviations and the use of CAPS for these reasons.   However, when codes and abbreviations are required, I have a fool resistant methodology 🙂

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13 minutes ago, jeff prince said:

I adopt a “no duplication” policy just like my models and drawing, meaning there is a master set of keynotes for the entire project and there numbers do not change from sheet to sheet.


There you go!

I love it and am humbled I didn't think it through...


I've just been so happy with nice, clean sheets  - but that does help if I'm causing confusion.

It does seem a more purposeful usage will reduce the amount of misreading.

I see now that there is no reason to keynote "gabion (A)" - it's just cleaner to spell it out.

I'll think about keeping keynotes for larger, repeated descriptions.



I do like the whole smart marker, but I am worried that it will fail and I will miss it in reviewing sheets when it does.

I too am loving linked PDFs - on a tablet it just makes things fast.

14 minutes ago, jeff prince said:

Imagine if this was easily accomplished with keynotes linked to specifications.

This would be great and I do hope it's in the works or at least VW is thinking about it.

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For what it is worth...I have found that including a keynote legend (with callouts) for each floor plan design layer is helpful.

That way, when someone is looking at the sheet layer for, say, the ground floor plan, the keynote legend callouts ONLY apply to that floor plan.

When they reference, for example, the upper floor plan, the legend and callouts only apply that plan.

Seems to keep their focus on just that drawing sheet. 


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I also really like each sheet to have its own keynote legend. In general contractors do too. Everything immediately relevant to the drawing is actually on the drawing. It just makes the drawings more user friendly IMHO. Main contractors also often need to distribute drawings to various sub contractors. Often a centralised main notes sheet is forgotten about.


The “new” notes manager can now also standardise notes across a file so there is less chance of error in duplicating notes.


I agree with @hollister design Studiotho that it would be nice if there was a way to standardise keynote numbering so the same keynote on different sheets could have the same number.

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