How to calculate costs with custom columns in the Markups List

This article applies to:

  • Revu 20
  • Revu 2019
  • Revu 2018

Jump to other versions:

In Revu, users can create Custom Columns in the Markups List to calculate material costs for quantity takeoffs. In this article, we’ll go over how to create a Choice column that stores materials and their base costs and a Formula column that will automate your calculations.

Choice custom columns can store numerical values but are also helpful for standardizing and categorizing your markups. For an overview of custom columns, please see this video.

Create a custom column for materials

Before you can set up a formula to calculate total costs, you’ll need to input the base or unit cost for each material. To get started:

  1. Go to the Markups List.
  2. Select Markups List > Columns > Manage Columns…
  3. In the Manage Columns dialog box, go to the Custom Columns tab.
  4. To create a new custom column, select Add.
    Add Custom Column
  5. In the Add Column dialog box, enter a name for the new custom column (e.g. Material).
  6. From the Type dropdown list, select Choice.
  7. To add a new choice, select Add.
    Add Choice Option
  8. In the Manage Choice Item dialog box, enter the name of the material in the Item field. This is what will appear in the list of options on the Markups List.
    To further categorize choice options, enter a Subject (e.g. Flooring). However, this will only take effect if measurements/markups on the PDF have a matching Subject in the Properties panel.
  9. Select the Assign Numeric Value checkbox and enter the unit or base cost of the material in the numerical field.
    Manage Choice Item
  10. Click OK.

To add more materials manually, select the new choice custom column in Manage Columns… and repeat steps 7 – 10.

Import material choice items

You can also add choice items to your Material custom column by importing them from a spreadsheet saved as a .csv file.

Before importing, ensure that your data is set up as follows:
  • Column A = Item
  • Column B = Subject (optional)
  • Column C = Numeric value (optional)

To import, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Markups List > Columns > Manage Columns…
  2. Double-click the Material custom column or select Modify.
  3. In the Modify Column dialog box, select Import…
    Modify Column Import Choices
  4. Locate the .csv file in the File Explorer.
  5. Click Open.

Now all your choice items should appear in the Modify Column dialog box.

Create a formula custom column

After all necessary materials and their base costs have been added, you can set up a formula custom column to calculate total costs for a takeoff.

  1. Open the Markups List.
  2. Go to Markups List > Columns > Manage Columns…
  3. In the Manage Columns dialog box, switch to the Custom Column tab and click Add.
  4. In the Add Column dialog box, enter a name (e.g. Total Cost).
  5. From the Type dropdown list, select Formula.
  6. In the Expression field, start typing the first variable in the equation. For this example, start typing Measurements, and a dropdown menu will appear.
    Formula Expression Variable
  7. Double-click the Measurement variable.
  8. Next, enter a valid operator:
    • Addition (+)
    • Subtraction (-)
    • Multiplication (*)
    • Division (/)
    • Exponential (^)
    • Modulus (%)
    • Negation (-)
  9. Start typing the second part of your formula in the Expression field. In this case, it would be Material.
  10. Double-click Material in the dropdown menu that appears.
  11. For formulas calculating cost, you can update the Format to currency and choose the appropriate currency symbol.
    Format Currency
  12. Click OK, and the Add Column dialog box will close.
  13. Click OK in the Manage Columns dialog box.

Now, whenever a Material is selected for a markup, its Total Cost will be calculated in the new formula column.

Cost Calculation in the Markups List

For more information about how to leverage data in the Markups List, please see Best practices for saving and sharing custom columns.

Other versions of this article

Revu 2017 and older
Setting up Custom Columns in Revu’s Markups list in conjunction with creating an estimation tool set in the Tool Chest can help you perform quantity takeoffs with ease. This includes defining the cost for different material types, which can be updated quickly as prices vary. For this example, we’re going to create a tool set that includes only three different tools. The bulk of the information will be defined within Custom Columns.

Creating an Estimation Tool Set

The first step is to create the tool set that will be used for the takeoffs. To create the tool set:
  1. Open Revu, and either create a new PDF or open an existing one.
  2. Press the keyboard short cut Alt+X to display the Tool Chest tool-chest .

    Note: A list of Revu keyboard shortcuts is available in the Revu Help menu and on our website.

  3. Click Manage Tool Sets properties-16x16.png. This opens the Manage Tool Sets dialog box.
  4. Click Add. This opens the Add Tool Set dialog box.
  5. Click New, and call the new tool set Estimation Example, and then click OK twice.
  6. Click Properties for that tool set you’ve just created and click Detail.

Adding Measurement Tools to the New Tool Set

Now that the tool set has been created, you can add the measurement tools. We are only going to add three.
  1. Press keyboard shortcut M to open the Measurements measure tab.
  2. Click the Area tool and add it to the page.
  3. Click Count tool and add two instances of it to the page.
  4. Click the Properties tab.
  5. Select the first Count markup on the page and change its color to blue, using the Color setting located in the Appearance section of the Properties tab.
  6. Select the second Count markup and change it to a green diamond. Now you’re ready to add the markups to your new tool set.
  7. Select all three markups at once by either holding down the Shift key and drawing a rectangle around them or using keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A.
  8. Right-click on them and then click Add to Tool Chest > Estimation Example.

Adding the Correct Markup Subject

Now that you’ve added the measurement tools to the new tool set, you should add a custom Subject to each of them, so they’re easier to identify in the Markups List.
  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is change the tool set to Detail mode by clicking the tool set Properties located to the left of the tool set name. You’ll now see three columns within the toolset. The first one displays an icon for each measurement tool, and the other two are labeled Subject and Comment
  2. Double-click on the Area measurement to change it to Properties mode.
  3. Double-click the Area measurement Subject and change the name to Flooring.
  4. Double-click each Count Subject and change the names to Door and Window, respectively.

Creating Custom Columns in the Markups list

You may have noticed that we’ve only created our new tool set, and might be wondering if this is enough. The next step is to create Custom Columns, where the data will be created for different types of materials. Right now we have three different base materials: flooring, doors and windows. Custom Columns is where all the different subtypes will be defined for the three base materials. The Choice-type Custom Column (hereafter called Choice column) will be used to create dropdown lists that will filter the available information based on the Subject. We are going to create two different types of columns: Choice, which is a dropdown list, and Formula, which we will set up to calculate the cost of the item selected in the Choice column and multiply it by the measurement value. (It won’t matter if the value is an Area measurement in square feet or a Count value.)
  1. Press Alt+L to open the Markups List markups-list.
  2. Click Manage Columns . This opens the Manage Columns dialog box.
  3. Click the Custom Columns tab.
  4. Click the Add button.
  5. Type Material as the Name and select Choice as the Type. The blank dialog box will look like this:
  6. Click Add. This opens the Manage Choice Item.
  7. Type Carpet and Flooring for the Item and Subject.
  8. Check Assign Numeric Value, type 1.39 as the value, and then click OK.
  9. Click Add, type Glazed Ceramic Tile and Flooring for the Item and Subject.
  10. Check Assign Numeric Value and type 2.49 and click OK.
  11. Click Add, type Hollow Core and Door for the Item and Subject.
  12. Check Assign Numeric Value and type 23 and click OK.
  That should be enough for you to get the idea of how to enter new Choice items. We will import the rest later. You will see that the Subject matches the tool set. When the Subject is Flooring, the choice will be Carpet or Glazed Ceramic Tile. When the Subject is Door, the choice will be Hollow Core.

Importing Choice Items from a CSV file

Now we’re going to show you how to speed things up by importing additional choice items from a .csv file.
  1. Download the file Material.csv, save it locally, and return to Revu.
  2. Click Manage Columns . This opens the Manage Columns dialog box.
  3. Click the Custom Columns tab.
  4. Click the Add button and the Add Column dialog box opens.
  5. Type Material as the Name and then select Choice in the Type dropdown.
  6. Click the Import button, select the Material.csv file and click Open. The Options list in the Modify Column dialog box will now be filled out and will look like this:
  7. Now click the Format button.
  8. Select Currency as the Format and click OK.
  9. Click OK a second time to return to the Manage Columns dialog box.
Now we need to define the Subtotal column that will calculate the cost using the Formula Editor.
  1. Click Add to create the second column.
  2. Type Subtotal as the Name and select Formula as the Type.
  3. Type Measurement * Material in the Expression box of the Formula Editor.
  4. Select Currency as the Format, select 2 in Decimal Places, select Dollar ($) as the Currency Symbol and then check Include In Totals.
  5. Click OK. The Custom Columns tab will now have both of the new columns that we are going to create.
  6. Click OK again to finish setting up the Custom Columns.
Notes about the Formula Editor’s Expression field
  • Notice that “Measurement” is used instead of “Comments” in the Formula Editor. Measurement is a special column that only contains the numeric value instead of the mixed numeric and text values that are used in the Comments. It would be impossible to complete the calculation if the text in the Comments were included in the formula.
  • Measurement works regardless of the type of measurement markup. In our example, we have used both an area and a count, and the formula works with both types even though one is a measurement of space and the other is the number of items.
  • The Formula Editor supports a number of different types of mathematical functions. See the Revu help file for more details about using the Expressions field in the Formula Editor.

Using the CSV File

The materials file that was imported is a text file that is saved in the Comma Separated Value, or CSV, format. That means this file has values that are separated by a comma. The format of the file used by a Choice column is “Item,Subject,Number.” Here are a few lines of the file to show the formatting.
Carpet,Flooring,1.39 Sheet Vinyl,Flooring,1.29 Hollow Core,Door,23 Solid Core,Door,52 Vinyl,Window,155 Vinyl w/ Grilles,Window,190
The file can be created in Notepad or in Excel. Be sure to check the file in Notepad before importing it into Revu.

Adding Measurements to the PDF and using the Choice Column

Now we can finally get down to adding the Measurement tools from the Tool Chest to complete some takeoffs. The tools that we created in the Tool Chest will be used instead of the Measurements tab, because the tool set contains information that is required to make the Choices and Formulas work.
  1. Click the Flooring markup in the tool set.
  2. Define the points for an area on the page. Flooring will display in the Markups list.
  3. Double-click in the Material column and the dropdown will display all the Choices that have “Flooring” as the subject. Note, the Choice items for Door and Window do not display in this list because their subject does not match “Flooring”.
  4. Select Carpet in the dropdown list and the formula will calculate and display the value in the Subtotal column.
  5. Click Door in the tool set and add five door Counts to the page.
  6. Select Hollow Core from the dropdown list and the formula will calculate and display the value in the Subtotal column.
After completing more takeoffs, the Markups list will start to look like this: Now you have an idea of how the Choice and Formula Custom Columns work and how they are created. Additional columns can be created to expand the data that is created by the Markups list. For example, you could create a column to calculate charges for installation time. Choice columns can be created to define which discipline or contractor would complete the installation. One of life’s constants is that pricing changes. Defining the price in the external CSV file means that you can import an updated CSV file to change the prices without having to change multiple markups in the Tool Chest.


How can I use Revu’s Tool Chest to save custom annotations and tool sets? How do I back up my Revu settings?


Revu 20

Revu 2019

Revu 2018

Revu 2017 & Below



Learn how to utilize custom columns in the Markups list to create formulas that calculate material costs for your quantity takeoffs.

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