Take Five

Take Five! Five Design Ideas in Five Minutes.

Jeff Moffitt

Creative Accounts Manager, Jostens
Jeff advised the award-winning Olympia HS [FL] yearbook and newspaper for 11 years. He is a National Board Certified teacher in career and technical education. JEA named him a Special Recognition Yearbook Adviser in 2010 and a Rising Star in 2006.

Beautiful design isn’t just about being visual.

It’s about how it makes you feel.

Does it pull you onto the spread and make you want to know more, or does it make you want to turn the page after a quick glance? Designers are storytellers but must plan the best ways to communicate and engage the reader. These strategies might help:


Think in Threes

  • Three types of photos (single subject, small group, large group)
  • Three-peat of color (use a color in at least three places as an accent)
  • Three parts of the event (before, during, after)
  • Three times coverage (getting every student in the book three or more times)

Create Images

Because anyone can take a photo, yearbook photos have to be better than what the average person can take with their cell phone. Study and understand the elements of photography. Learn how to use your camera and practice taking photos. Great design makes great photos stand out to create a strong center of visual interest.

Consider Content

Yearbook staffs often begin with template-driven design. With that, don’t get stuck in the template rut. In other words, if you have a great photo that doesn’t work with the template, change it.

If there is a better way to tell the story, change it.

Utilize Negative Space

As we aim to increase coverage and include as many photos as possible on every spread, un-designed areas are even more important. The more content on a spread, the more important white space is. Use it as a design element.

Be Inspired

Even the best designers don’t start with a blank screen. They begin by thinking about the reader and how to best tell the story. They look for inspiration from a variety of sources, sketch thumbnails and refine their design.

Bonus Minute

Design the spread again! Then again in a different way. Then do it again. Do you get the picture? Create choices, compare them, and use the one that best tells the story. This helps to avoid falling in love with the first version and forces you to look at a variety of ways to lay out the story.