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Notes are textual descriptions that can be added to an element, diagram, connector, feature or assigned item (such as Tests, Maintenance items, or allocated resources) in Enterprise Architect. They provide valuable information that describes the entity being modeled. Many newcomers to modeling are not aware that these textual descriptions are core to many of the modeling languages, including UML, BPMN and SysML; without them the model would be hard to understand and remain opaque. A well-formed note is unambiguous and doesn’t contain redundant information that has been entered in other properties of the entity.

Using the Notes window

You can create and view notes in the Notes Window, which can be docked anywhere in the application, or through the 'Properties' dialog or editing dialog for a modeling object or feature. The notes can be formatted using the Notes Toolbar, conveniently located above the notes text field. This formatting is carried through to documentation generated from the model, and includes markup such as italics, bolding, bullets and hyperlinks. You can also reference Glossary Terms and model elements from the notes text. There are convenient keyboard shortcuts available for quickly editing the text.

Many experienced modelers have the Notes window docked in the workspace, and when they select an entity in a diagram, the Browser window or another window, that object immediately becomes the focus of the window and they can view, create or edit the notes. Conversely, if you have limited screen space and do not want to keep the Notes window open all the time, you can display the Quicknotes window, which is a simpler version of the Notes window without the toolbar. You can still format the text using context menu options. The Quicknotes window closes when you click outside it.

There are two variants of the Notes window or field:

  • For standard modeling objects such as elements, connectors, diagrams, attributes and operations, where the text field contains only the text you type into it and the number of characters of text currently contained in the field is displayed in the left-hand end of the Status bar
  • For assigned items such as Tests, Maintenance Items, Project items and allocated resources, where the text field contains automatic headings - 'Description' and 'History' - that cannot be deleted, and that reflect the text typed into the corresponding tabs in the item's editing dialog; for Test items, the headings are 'Description', 'Input', 'Acceptance Criteria' and 'Results'
    This variant does not show a character count in the Status bar

This difference is reflected in the Quicknotes window as well, where Ctrl+Space displays the general Notes text or, for an assigned item, the 'Description' text.

For an assigned item, Shift+Space displays the 'Results' or 'History' text.

When text translation is enabled and configured on the 'Translations' page of the 'Manage Project Options' dialog, the Notes window has a 'Local' tab (to display Notes text in the original language) and a 'Translation' tab in which you select to translate and display the same Notes text in the selected language. See the Text Translation Help topic.

If you are working in a Cloud-connected model and have also connected to an external data source, when you select an external data item a separate version of the Notes window displays to show the external item Notes text. See the External Item Details Help topic.

If the text in the Notes window or 'Notes' fields does not render as well as you would like, you can change the font using the 'Note Editor Font' option on the 'Application Look' dialog. You can also change the zoom level applied to all notes text, using the 'Default Note Zoom' field; this field is initially set to 110%. See the Visual Styles Help topic.



Start > Desktop > Design > Notes

Design > Element > Editors > Notes

Context Menu

Right-click on model element | Properties | Notes

Keyboard Shortcuts


Ctrl+Space (Quicknotes)

Shift+Space (Quicknotes History)

Alt+1 | Notes

Alt+5 | Notes

Notes Context Menu options



See also

Create | Glossary Definition

Click on this option to create a Project Glossary definition, with the Glossary term taken from the selected 'Notes' text.

To create the Glossary entry:

  1. If suitable Notes text is available, highlight the text to use as the Glossary definition and press Ctrl+C to copy it.
  2. Highlight the text to use as the Glossary term, right-click on it and select the menu option; the 'Glossary Detail' dialog displays, with the selected text in the 'Term' field.
  3. If you have copied some definition text, paste it into the 'Meaning' field; otherwise type a suitable definition of the term in this field.
  4. In the 'Type' field, select the appropriate term type.
  5. Click on the Apply button to save the new Glossary definition.

The term displays in the 'Notes' text as a Ctrl+click hyperlink, which displays the Glossary definition of the term in the 'Glossary Detail' dialog.

Once you have created a Glossary definition, here or elsewhere in the model, you can add the Glossary term anywhere in the text of the Notes window (or 'Notes' field of a dialog) where, again, it becomes a Ctrl+click hyperlink to the definition. Either:

  • Simply type the term in the text, or
  • If you are not certain of the term or have multiple definitions:
  1. Move the cursor to the point in the text at which to insert the term.
  2. Press Ctrl+Space; the Glossary Term Selection window displays.
  3. Double-click on the term to insert it in the text.
Model Glossary Project Glossary View

Create | New Element from Selection

Click on this option to create a new element in the model, the name of which is taken from the selected Notes text.

  1. Click on the option.
  2. The 'New Element' dialog displays, with the 'Name' field pre-filled with the selected text.
  3. Set the element type and other options as necessary, then click on the Create button. (You can also select an option on the dialog to add the element to the diagram.)
  4. The system creates the element, adds it to the model (and diagram) and creates a hyperlink to it from the selected Notes text.
Add Elements Directly To Packages

Create | Element on Diagram

Click on this option to create a new element in the model, and explicitly in the diagram also, with its name taken from the selected Notes text. This option does not make the selected text a hyperlink to the element.

  1. Click on the option.
  2. The 'Toolbox Shortcut' menu displays for the diagram type. If necessary, click on the 'Other' option and select from a different set of element types.
  3. Click on the required element type and then click on the diagram. A new element is created at the cursor position, with the selected text as the element name.
Toolbox Shortcut Menu

Create | Link to Existing Element

Click on this option to create a hyperlink from the selected Notes text to an existing element in the model.

  1. Click on the option.
  2. The 'Select Classifier' dialog displays. Locate and select the required element, and click on the OK button.
  3. The selected Notes text becomes a hyperlink to the element. The target element name and Notes text remain unchanged and do not necessarily mirror each other.
Select Dialog

Translate | Mark for Translation

If Automatic Translation is enabled, highlight a term or word then click on this option to identify a specific translation for this instance of the selected text. A prompt displays in which you specify which Glossary Category the translation for that term is defined in, within the Translation section of the Glossary Model.

This is of particular value where the sequence of a string of words is important, such as a breadcrumb trail, menu path or ribbon path, especially where the same or related terms are used in different sequences of words. A free translation might re-organize the sequence of words, or combine words, making it hard to follow instructions or recognize the context. You would therefore make sure that the translation of this specific combination of words exactly matched what the reader is intended to see.

Text Translation Create a Translation Glossary Model

Translate | Do not Translate

If Automatic Translation is enabled, highlight a term or word then click on this option to protect the selected instance of the text from the translation process. You might use this if a term has different meanings, some of which are appropriate for translation and some of which have a special application that should not be translated. For example, you might freely translate the words 'the wood' in the context of a material, but want to protect 'The Wood' as a reference to a location.

Text Translation

Search for <'selected'>

Click on this option to display a subset of the functions of the common Code Editor menu 'Search' option, to locate a text string outside the element.

In a 'Notes' field (not in the Notes window) you can perform a search of the text for a text string:

  • Press Ctrl+F and specify the text string and the direction of search
  • Press F3 to locate more instances of the word in a forward search, or Ctrl+F3 in a backwards search
Code Editor Context Menu

Select All

These six options provide simple functions for editing the Notes text.


Click on this option to send the Notes text directly to the configured printer.


Highlight a word in the Notes text and click on this option to display the 'Thesaurus' dialog, which shows the meaning of the selected word, its synonyms and - if you select the 'Antonyms' checkbox - its antonyms. The antonyms are listed at the bottom of the Categories panel.

If you want to replace the selected word with one of its synonyms, click on the synonym and on the OK button.

Checking Text

Keyboard Options For Notes



See also

Switch text orientation

Hold Ctrl, press Shift

Description: On a line of text, right-justifies or left-justifies the paragraph in which that line occurs.

Use the keys on the left of the alphanumeric keyboard to left-justify the text; use the keys on the right of the keyboard to right-justify the text.

Insert Date and Time


Description: Inserts the current date and time at the cursor position, in the format:


For example:

     22/12/2016 3:39:50 PM

Spell check Notes text


Description: Performs a simple spell check on the Notes text.

Undo changes


Description: Reverses the last change made to the Notes text.

Redo changes

Ctrl+Y or


Description: Re-applies the last reversed change to the Notes text.



Description: Copies a highlighted Notes text string to the Enterprise Architect buffer.



Description: Pastes a copied or cut text string from the Enterprise Architect buffer into the Notes text.



Description: Removes a highlighted Notes text string and places it in the Enterprise Architect buffer.

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