The new ability to have vertical sections in SharePoint Online will be rolling out to various O365 tenants in the near future. This will provide some great capabilities to structure your content. Vertical sections creates a column on the right side of your SharePoint pages that contains web parts.

This capability was featured in the recent announcements of SharePoint Home Sites to show a right hand column that contained various pieces of information.

In this article we are going to show what vertical sections are, how they can be configured and some tips and tricks. In the next article we are also going to go through some use cases on home pages, news pages and standard pages so that you can apply this new capability effectively.

Vertical Sections Overview

A vertical section is exactly that – a column that can be added to a page in SharePoint Online that appears on the right, with the ability to add web parts to it. Up until now, you can only add horizontal sections to pages. You now have the option of having a column of content on the right side of the page!

Not only can you structure your content in rows but now in columns using the new vertical section capability.

To add a vertical section to a page, click to add a new section and then choose the ‘Vertical section’ option. Unlike standard sections, it doesn’t matter where you do this on the page since is going to be vertical and running down the entire length of the page.

You can add a vertical section from anywhere on the page so never fear!

Once you have done this you will see your vertical section appear on the right side of your page. At the moment you don’t have a choice where this appears – it is always on the right hand side as shown below. Perhaps in a future version it will also appear on the left side for right-to-left languages but who knows!

Vertical section added to the right hand side of the page. This section will continue on down the page and you can add as many Web Parts as you like.

Vertical Sections Configuration

Apart from adding a vertical section, the other thing that you can do is apply a section background to it. This can be really useful to segregate content or to visually indicate that the vertical section contains special or unique content.

You can easily apply a colour to your vertical section. Note that the colours are taken from your theme.

Once you have this, you are ready to go! Of course vertical sections can contain any web parts you want. For example, maybe you want to use it as a way to have actionable content on the right side of a communication site as shown below:

An out of he box communication site with a vertical section for some action orientated content

Vertical Section Do’s

  • Use vertical sections to group logically related content together or to add extra prominence to content. For example, using a vertical section with actionable content or personal content
  • Use vertical sections to add additional information to pages. Many Intranet products have the concept of a right hand rail that contains additional information about a page such as related content, related links, metadata and so forth. A vertical section can be used nicely show off this information (blog post coming soon!)

Vertical Section Don’ts

  • Don’t mix vertical sections with a background with horizontal sections with the same colour background as you get this strange appearance on pages. It works quite well if the vertical section has a different background than the horizontal sections however.
  • It seems that a 4 column layout is highly popular with the user community and this can now be achieved, in a way, with having a 3 column section along with a vertical section on a page. However, be careful as it looks terrible on team sites (since you also have to consider the quick launch) and even on communication sites a lot of the web parts don’t seem to scale nicely for 4 columns.
Things get really squishy with a vertical section next to three column section next to a quick launch unless you have a monitor as wide as a football field.

Things to know

  • In responsive view the vertical section gets pushed all the way to the bottom under the last horizontal section you have. This is a design decision by Microsoft and it makes sense but bear this in mind when thinking about the priority of content that you may have.
  • For some reason the vertical section column is called Column One and so is the first column in any section. It’s a minor thing but it could cause a little confusion when trying to explain during content authoring for example.
  • The vertical section is only available on the right hand side – as per the Microsoft article
  • You cannot have a full-width column and a vertical section on the same page – as per the Microsoft article
  • You cannot have a full-width column and a vertical section on the same page (This is from the official Microsoft documentation but is not entirely true since you can add a vertical section on a communication site which does have a full width section for the top hero web part. But if you manually add a full width section to a page the option will be removed)

As always if you have any more tips or questions please let me know and I will add it to the list.

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