MSU Extension County Annual Report Template Tutorial - Publisher


October 1, 2017 - Marian Reiter, ANR Communications and Marketing

Organize and write story content

  1. Organize your story ideas by section. (Create an outline.)
  2. It’s usually easiest to write stories in Word. Pay attention to word counts. Spell check and edit for length, grammar and style.
  3. Collect photo files to go with your stories.

Page layout in Publisher


  1. Login to Sharepoint and navigate to the MSU Extension “MSUE All Staff” section “Creating County Annual Reports” area at Save the following documents to your computer:
    • 2016 MSU Extension County Report Template (Publisher 2016 PUB file)
    • 2016 MSU Extension Template Tips (PDF)
  2. Open the Publisher template. Use “File/Save As” to create a new file with a new name so you don’t overwrite the original template.

TIP: Use the Page Navigation pane to click from page to page.


  1. Insert your county name where indicated.
  2. Text formatting can be done quickly by using the custom styles that have “MSUE” in their names. (the “Styles” drop-down menu is located from the “Home” tab on the tool ribbon.) The following styles are used on the County Annual Report template:
    • MSUE Report Title (used on front cover)
    • MSUE Headline (used for section heads)
    • MSUE Subhead (used for story headlines and section “continued” lines)
    • MSUE Body Text
    • MSUE Program Bullet
    • MSUE Numbers
    • MSUE Sidebar Text (used for sidebar pull quotes or info)
    • MSUE Staff Listing (used on staff listing pages)
    • MSUE indicia (used for anti-discrimination and other “fine print” statements)
    • TIP: Use the “MSUE” style formats as much as possible for consistency. Changing colors and
      fonts may change the branded look.
  3. You have the option to swap any of the cover photos you wish with local images. To do this, select the image, right click, select “Change Picture” then browse to the new image file on your computer and select it.

TIP: To adjust the image cropping, double click on the image. (You will see the original image selected.) You can scale or move the image within the cropping frame while it is selected. Use the corner handles to scale images proportionally. (If you swap photos, also change the alternative text to describe the new image to people using screen readers. See the accessibility section for steps.)


Add your county information to the “Message from the District Coordinator” letter (also change the photo), “Contact Us” section, “Funding” section, “Digital Impact” section:

  1. Copy and paste your text from Word into the template’s text boxes.
    • TIP: Use the “Clear all formatting” eraser tool to remove any unwanted formatting that came with the text from Word.
  2. Adjust the size of the text boxes to fit all the text.
    • TIP: If there is too much text to fit in one box, you’ll see a small box with “…” to the right of the text box. Enlarge the box until the “…” symbol disappears. If you run out of room on the page, you can add a new text box on the next page to flow the remaining text into. Click on the small box with “…” to the right of the text box. It will turn into a “bucket.” Go to the box you want to flow the remaining text into and click in it. The story text will now flow from one box to another. This is also called “threaded text.”


  1. Story pages are divided into 7 main topic sections.
    • TIP: “Boilerplate” section introductions and stories from the statewide legislative report are included for you to use or adapt.
  2. There are 2 pages included per section in the template. You can duplicate the blank pages if needed to add more stories.
    • TIP: You can duplicate or delete a page by hovering over it in the navigation pane, right clicking and selecting “Insert Duplicate Page” or “Delete.” You can reorder a page or group of pages by selecting them in the Page Navigation pane then dragging and dropping into position.
  3. Copy and paste your story text from Word into the template text boxes. You can use the existing text boxes to enter your stories into the template or create new text boxes. Adjust the size of the text box to fit all the story text.
    • TIP: Use the light blue layout guides to size and place objects on the pages. Objects will “snap to” the guides. You can create more guides by pulling them from the horizontal and vertical rulers. To get rid of guides, just drag them off the page.
  4. Add text formatting by using the custom styles that have “MSUE” in their names. The Styles drop-down menu is located from the “Home” tab on the tool ribbon.
    • REMINDER: Use the “MSUE” style formats as much as possible for consistency. Changing colors and fonts may change the branded look.


  1. Insert your story photos. Crop and re-size them proportionally.
    • TIP: Instead of inserting and resizing photos, you can copy and paste a story photo that is already in the template then right click on it to “change image.” (You will need to change the alternative text to describe the new image. See the accessibility section for steps.)
  2. Add “Alt text” to each photo you add to the layout (see accessibility section).


The final pages include an optional staff listing area which can be modified as needed.


  1. Make sure sample text you don’t want from the template is removed.
  2. Walk away from the document then come back and re-read it. It’s always helpful to have someone  else who is not as close to the project as you read the report.

Create an accessible PDF document for the web

If your report will be posted on the web, it will need to be readable by everyone – including people using screen readers.

TIP: MSU Accessibility provides a helpful tutorial to help make Publisher PDF files more readable at

Use Styles: Using styles helps to establish content order

Add Alternative Text to Images: Use “alt text” with images and figures to help explain their meaning to people who use screen readers. To add “alt text”:

  1. Right-click on the image
  2. Select “Format Picture”
  3. Select the “Alt Text” tab.
  4. In the Alternative Text dialogue box, enter your alt text describing the content and purpose of  the image. 

Reading Order: Using the “Bring to Front” tool, stack objects on each page (such as text boxes, images and captions) so they will be read in logical order. The reading order starts with the first object to be brought to the front, and follows with the next object brought to the front.

  1. Select the object you want to be read first on the page
  2. Select “Picture Tools,” and then “Format”
  3. Select the “Bring Forward” drop-down menu
  4. Select “Bring to Front”
  5. Repeat with next object in reading order then next until you have ordered all objects

TIP: You can save steps by customizing Publisher’s “Quick Access Toolbar” so it includes the “Bring  to Front” tool. “Alt+F6” is the quick key method to “bring to front.”

Create a Tagged PDF: To create a PDF for the web that can be accessed by screen readers:

  1. Go to “File/Export/Export PDF”
  2. Select the “Options” button
  3. Check, “Document structure tags for accessibility”
  4. Click the “Publish” button


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at