Cognos Tip – Inline Formatting Blocks

Today I was struck with a minor annoyance – I couldn’t get two blocks in Cognos Report Studio to remain side-by-side. I’ve seen report’s formatted this way before but struggled with how to do it by myself (without calling Ron to walk me through clicking two buttons).

Well, I ended up googling it and found a Stacked Overflow thread on  formatting two crosstabs in Cognos to remain side-by-side on the page. The answer was straight forward enough (I knew it was a maximum of three clicks!), but the conversation in the thread stuck out to me.

Many of the users in the thread were not designers. Rather – they were IT who were instructed to create a crosstab or list of some data for another department’s use. It never occurred to them to think about the design of the information they were providing. One person asked, “why does it matter?” So I thought to myself, “how could I explain to someone, who doesn’t know and/or care about the importance of design, that these things matter?”

So far at my work, I’m the data visualization wizard. The person who takes an output and makes the report “pretty”. I’m the garnish on an otherwise tasty plate.

It was through taking on multiple projects and redesigning the end report to be well designed that people have started to take notice. I often get comments like, “It was so easy to understand – you really helped me explain these results to the board!” and “I use to have a hard time understanding the results, but this was easy to understand.”

Key words: easy to understand 

So instead of going off on a small lecture about the importance of design (complete with powerpoint and references to current literature), I suggest showing those around you how design can improve their lives.

As for the Cognos Tip… click “Floating” under the block’s Properties, then click on the middle Float option.  Total clicks (not including selecting the block or the “OK”) – two.


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