Sidebars

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS, CPA
December 1, 2013

Q: I produce large reports in Word 2013 with brief summary information displayed in the margins about every two or three pages to add interest to the report. Because these text box summaries are simply repeating information already contained in the report, I don’t like to include them as part of the report; instead, I want them to appear outside the report area, in the page margins. My current approach is to insert section breaks after almost every page and then enlarge the margin so it can accommodate the summary information (as suggested in the thumbnail image at right). The problem is this creates numerous section breaks, and managing them becomes difficult because they constantly need adjusting as I add, delete, or move content. I am wondering if there is a better approach that I might be overlooking.

A: The inclusion of teaser information is an excellent way to draw readers into your reports, but I think you would be better off using Word’s Sidebar Textbox capabilities to achieve the results you desire. To create a professional-looking sidebar, from the Insert tab, select Text Box and scroll down to choose one of the 11 professionally designed sidebars (there are 35 builtin text boxes altogether, and more options are available on the web), such as the Facet Sidebar (Right) option pictured below.

 

These steps create a sidebar template on the current page, with text boxes, placeholder text, and artistic images grouped together and formatted with the proper page positioning and word wrapping needed to accommodate your teaser information.

The sidebar’s default word wrap settings allow text to flow freely from one page to the next without interference from section breaks, even if you add, delete, or move content. Additionally, if you find you need to move a sidebar from one page to the next, you can drag and drop it to the desired position (as shown below). This sidebar approach should prove faster and less cumbersome than your current approach.

 

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