# Tabular vs fbox (or other options?) for creating an organized document

I'm currently in the process of trying to make a template that I can use for creating lesson plans for my high school math classes, but am having some trouble figuring out how I can make this be the most efficient. Ideally, this document will be something that I can just open up and add information to without having to worry about adjusting spacing; I just want to be able to type things in. In terms of structure, I am shooting for something that looks vaguely similar to this lesson plan.

So far, my code is:

\documentclass[12pt]{article}
\usepackage{multicol, fancyhdr}
\usepackage[margin=.5in]{geometry}
\usepackage[mmddyyyy]{datetime}
\usepackage[table]{xcolor}

...

\begin{document}
\begin{center}
\begin{tabular}{|p{7cm}p{11cm}|}
\hline
\large{Unit: (Put your unit here)} \cellcolor{lightgray} & \large{Lesson: (Put your lesson here)} \cellcolor{lightgray} \\
\hline
\end{tabular}
\begin{tabular}{|p{7cm}|p{11cm}|}
\hline
{\bfseries Date:} \emph{\today} & \bfseries{Standards:} \\
& \\
\bfseries{Text Used:} & $\bullet$ This would be standard one. \\
\emph{Example book} &  \\
& $\bullet$ This would be standard two. \\
\bfseries{Materials:} &  \\
\emph{Sample materials written out} & $\bullet$ This would be standard three. \\
& \\
\cline{2-2}
\bfseries{Accommodations:} & \bfseries{Key Terms:} \\
Some sort of list of accommodations that students may need... &  \\
& \\
{\bfseries Time:} 45 Minutes & \\
\hline
\end{tabular} \\[.4in]

\begin{tabular}{|p{9cm}|p{9cm}|}
\hline
\multicolumn{2}{|c|}{\large{Continuity} \cellcolor{lightgray}} \\
\hline
\bfseries{Previous Lesson:} & \bfseries{Next Lesson:} \\
& \\
This is where stuff will go about the previous lesson. & This is where stuff will go about the next lesson. \\[1in]
\hline
\end{tabular}\\[.4in]

\begin{tabular}{|p{9cm}|p{9cm}|}
\hline
\bfseries{Objectives:} & \bfseries{Key Questions:} \\
& \\
$\bullet$ Objective one could be written right here. Or here. & $\bullet$ \\
& \\
$\bullet$ This would be the second objective of the lesson. & $\bullet$ \\
& \\
$\bullet$ Did someone say a third objective? & $\bullet$ \\
\hline
\end{tabular}

\end{center}
\end{document}


Which creates output like:

The problem I'm running into is that I'm pretty sure that in the long-term, tabular isn't the best way to do this (since if one of my columns ends up taking up multiple lines, it'll affect the spacing of the rows in the other column, best seen in my "Key Questions" section). But when I tooled around with fbox, things seemed a little off too. I essentially am trying to stitch together a bunch of different text boxes, that are related to one another (similar sizes, sharing edges, etc), but ultimately independent from each other (so my text in one doesn't affect the other). I don't know how to do this.

-
I think a tabular is OK for this kind of layout but you have the granularity wrong. In particular the itemized list under standards is a list so should be marked up as \begin{itemize} within the single p-column entry rather than as different table rows. that way the line spacing in the list is not affected by the line spacing in the first column (which should probably be something like a description environment again within a single cell. –  David Carlisle Sep 21 '12 at 8:43
In addition, I suggest you use the enumitem-package for constructing lists, and put all list-environment in a \parbox to avoid unnecessary spacing before and after the environment: \parbox{5cm}{\begin{itemize}[topsep=0.1ex,noitemsep,leftmargin=1em] \item 000 \item 001 \item 010 \end{itemize}} –  Sveinung Sep 21 '12 at 9:20
So I definitely toyed around with that, and maybe I was doing something wrong, but then it turned out that my itemized list would influence the stretching of the adjacent column. I might toy around with using paracol, and seeing if that is what I'm looking for. –  aklingensmith Sep 21 '12 at 16:07

So after toying around with this for a bit, and looking up some information about columns and boxes, I decided that this was the best route to go. What columns and boxes seemed to provide was a way to have side-by-side information that wouldn't influence spacing of boxes/columns around it.

I decided to use the paracol package to create code like:

    \begin{center}
\begin{paracol}{2}
\framebox{\parbox{9cm}{

{\bfseries Date:} \\ % DATE - when will you be giving this lesson?

{\bfseries Text Used:} \\ % TEXT USED - what book/text did you use to make this lesson plan?

{\bfseries Materials:} \\ % MATERIALS - any special resources you need?

{\bfseries Accommodations:} \\ % ACCOMMODATIONS

{\bfseries Time:} \\ % TIME - how long will your lesson need?
}} \\[.4in]

\switchcolumn
\framebox{\parbox{9cm}{
{\bfseries Standards:} \\

{\bfseries Key Terms:} \\
}}
\end{paracol}


Which gave me output that looks like: Now, when I only needed one column, I went ahead and still used tables (since the issue I was having was never coming from single-column tables), but when I wanted tables with multiple columns, I switched to using framed parboxes in a two column environment.

And while the fact that the tables don't match up perfectly in size, as I put information in them, my guess is they'll begin to become closer to matching (and if they don't, that's something I can very easily control, if it's bothering me that much!).

I should also add the one exception I made was for the "Continuity" section, since in this table I won't be using environments like itemize, so I was less worried about spacing. Plus, what I enter in for past and next lessons should be pretty similar in terms of length, so again, spacing was less of a concern here.

-
I'm also pretty sure, if I get really picky, I can adjust the spacing between the columns, so that it's minimized, making it seem like they're sharing an edge (which is something I mentioned in the original post I was looking for). ...but I'm not sure if I'm going to be that picky. –  aklingensmith Sep 21 '12 at 17:31
UPDATE: In my original code, I was using the tabular environment for some of the boxes at the end, and have since decided against that. The problem I was running into was tabular didn't seem willing to break up a specific text box, and even packages like longtable wanted to break up the table where the cell finished (as opposed to mid-cell). So instead, I switched to using the mdframed package and environment, which seems to have solved the problem! –  aklingensmith Sep 23 '12 at 18:27