For linking (threading) text frames, I recommend visiting this article:
If you start with one page in your layers panel, add the size of the text box you need. Then, you can duplicate this page (24 times) and all pages will have this pre-sized text frame. Then, review the information and visual here (http://help.adobe.com/en_US/indesign/cs/using/WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-6f99a.h tml) to link these boxes together to flow continously (like in Word).
The margins and columns feature just provides guidelines for you. If you want an entire text box to be two-three columns:
- select the text frame
- on a pc: press ctrl + B which opens up a panel with Text Frame Options, if you're on a mac: press cmd + b
- You can set your number of columns here, the spacing between them, etc.
Here is more information on columns: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/indesign/cs/using/WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-6f8ba.h tml
However, if you're only wanting to use columns in only part of your document because you have all of these linked text boxes, try using tables. Along the menu bar at the top, there is a Tables drop-down list. Click your cursor within the text from and select insert table from this list.
Here is more info on creating a table: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/indesign/cs/using/WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-6ff2a.h tml
To set the margins on every page, I would suggest starting with that first page before you duplicate it, and get everything as consistent as you can here. When you go to duplicate your page, then each page will maintain these settings. In your Pages panel, there is also a feature called master pages, where you can affect changes to your entire document (or pages you specify) by changing this single master page.
Here is more information about your Pages Panel, Creating Spreads, and Master Pages:
In different documents, text frame and object frame edges appear in different colors when they are on different layers.
You can view the layers Panel under the Window drop-down list in the main menu bar.
For general information on InDesign CS5 and 5.5, visit this page:
It provides a ton of great resources.
Otherwise, several video tutorials and demos are available on YouTube and ADOBE TV:
Definitely check out this page of videos for inDesign:
Honestly, most of learning inDesign (and any Adobe product) is getting in there and getting your hands dirty. The more you play (ahem... work), the more you'll get comfortable with it. At least that's how it's gone for me.
Hope this helps. Happy venturing.
The outline of your "boxes" (their native name is "text frames") take their color from your current active layer -- which you also may want to look up, as they are quite useful, as your predecessor already discovered.
Read about Smart Text Reflow in the Help. I personally hate it, and immeditely turn it off, but if you want ID to add pages automatically as yout type, that's the thing that does it.