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I am building a publishing site for an Intranet. Every page in my site has a contacts section right under the left navigation, content by query web part is used to fetch data from a SharePoint generic list and display contacts.

What is the right method to add this web part on every page?

  1. Add web part in master page? I am also using OOTB discussion list and that uses system master page, making changes in system master page recommended?
  2. Create a content page layout, every page in my intranet site will use that page layout and add web part in page layout. What about discussion list that doesn't use my created page layout? Is there any way to change the page layout of discussion list?
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Adding new masterpage would be the best option if you want the webpart shown on every page. That new masterpage can be either copied from existing masterpage, or you can create a new one. As far as I can see, there's no

Page Layout is good if you only want to show on every page in Pages Library, but as you said, when user navigating to list or library, they won't get it.

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