Three Big (Yet Simple) Things that Make Your Yearbook Shine

1. TITLE PAGE

The title page is the first impression students have when they open your yearbook. It plays a key role in your yearbook’s wow factor.

After students are awed by the cover—and in many cases the front endsheet—the title page conjures what they’ll see inside the yearbook. It is a prime opportunity to build excitement for the content in the yearbook.

Casey Nichols, Jostens Yearbook Ambassador notes: “A strong title page should incorporate elements of the visual theme and provide energy and anticipation of what’s to come. Usually that’s done by repeating or spinning off the verbal theme, but a powerful photograph (or photographs) can ‘sell’ the theme.”

Tips to make your title page more compelling and draw the attention of student buyers:

  1. Spend time brainstorming possible theme images, especially one or more for the title page. If your theme is “Wow”, readers better feel that when they see the title page.
  2. Incorporate some of the graphic and design treatments that readers will see in other parts of the yearbook. A reader should be able to look at the title page and predict (or at least anticipate) some of what they’ll see inside.
  3. Consider traditions, but don’t be afraid to re-evaluate them. It’s a student yearbook, so make sure the title page includes students in images or words. If tradition dictates that the school mascot must be on the title page, find a fresh way to tie it into the theme.
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The title page should include the following standard information

– Year of publication
– Theme statement
– Yearbook name
– Volume number

– School name
– Complete address (street, city, state, zip)
– School telephone number
– School fax number
– Enrollment with data

It might also include:
– Web address, social media accounts
– Principal’s name
– Athletic conference and division

2. THEME COPY

Stories are about people, not topics. Look beyond basic surveys for the real stories.

“If we don’t ask, people won’t share,” Liz Walsh, Creative Accounts Manager, says. “Be curious. What are the people around you thinking and feeling in that moment?”

Hawthorne adds, “The story of the year isn’t about the shiny trophies or prestigious awards that every school loves to brag about—it’s about the people who worked hard to achieve them.”

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THEME TEMPLATES

With Jostens pre-designed theme templates you can easily match theme-related colors, graphics and fonts throughout your yearbook. Simply drag your content and photos on to the template to create or customize your page, as needed.
BE SPECIFIC TO BE UNIVERSAL

Weave together the threads of each story that have universal appeal by featuring the sights, sounds and experiences that are common to everyone in the school community.

BE PREPARED

Gather photos, interviews, and ideas all the time, so you have enough to draw from when you start putting everything together. This gives you a much clearer vision of how the theme is the storytelling vehicle. When you approach each storytelling opportunity from the point of view of the theme, you save time later as you approach deadlines.

BE REAL

Stories are about people, not topics. Look beyond basic surveys for the real stories.

“If we don’t ask, people won’t share,” Liz Walsh, Creative Accounts Manager, says. “Be curious. What are the people around you thinking and feeling in that moment?”

Hawthorne adds, “The story of the year isn’t about the shiny trophies or prestigious awards that every school loves to brag about—it’s about the people who worked hard to achieve them.”

WRITE, AND RE-WRITE

Walsh recommends testing the story package by thinking of the theme as a person or character.

“Does this copy sound like our person? Are the verbs vivid and active? Does the writing flow easily and contain very few adverbs or adjectives? Do a variety of people speak in their own words? If not, then tighten the copy, revise it, edit it again until it does.”

BE CONSISTENT

Assign one person to write all the theme copy.

“The theme should have a single, coherent, consistent, natural voice,” Hawthorne says, “which is virtually impossible if it’s written by a committee. If you have more than one person writing theme copy, it means no one is writing it. It’s merely being composed.”

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COVERAGE REPORT

Generate a coverage report on Yearbook Avenue to track how many times a student is in the yearbook, to ensure that your coverage is as inclusive as possible. Each photo is tagged with a purple icon so you know who’s in the photo, how many times they’re in the yearbook, if they’ve bought a yearbook and more.
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The Radical Write, Grow Your Know Adviser Guide and Yearbook Avenue’s Digital Classroom

Need some resources to improve student writing?

Bobby Hawthorne’s The Radical Write inspires staffers to dig deeper to find unique content and quotes to tell the story of the year. It’s a valuable source of information for conducting interviews, crafting stories and writing compelling captions.

The Theme chapter in the Grow Your Know Adviser Guide walks advisers through the theme development process and provides five printable resources with information for all levels of learners.

Yearbook Avenue’s digital classroom offers resources to improve staff writing among other topics. You’ll find lesson plans tied to standards, rubrics and handouts.

3. PHOTOGRAPHY

When you use storytelling theme-related photos, the school community will fall in love with your yearbook.

“Great photos should be used to showcase their storytelling quality” Jostens Yearbook Ambassador and co-author of the Jostens Grow Your Know Photo Curriculum, Margaret Sorrows notes. “Don’t bury a great image in a small space on the spread. Use them as dominants, so the stunning, storytelling photo will have even more impact.”
The Grow Your Know Photo Curriculum offers valuable photojournalism lesson with information for all levels of learners.

TIPS FOR TAKING GREAT PHOTOS

 TRAINING

Hold an after-school photo workshop in the spring after the new staff is selected. At the workshop, teach students all the functions of the camera and to discuss the relationship between light, ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
Remember: practice makes perfect.
“Shoot every day,” Sorrows emphasizes. “Seek critiques from second- and third-year photographers to improve images. Find inspiration from the pros on Instagram. Assign new photographers to an experienced buddy on staff.”

COMPOSITION

Honor the power of great composition technique: rule of thirds, framing, leading lines, high angle, low angle, reaction, repetition, selective focus. Students that understand this don’t just take snapshots—they capture storytelling images.

PREPERATION

Make sure you know all the details of the event you’re capturing. Keep equipment in good working order. Keep batteries charged. Arrive early; stay late. Take practice shots to make sure your camera settings are correct. The best images often occur before and after, not just during an event. Take vertical and horizontal images. For visual variety, take tight close-ups, medium shots and wide-angle images.

EDITING

Images may be enhanced in Adobe Photoshop or Layout Pro’s Snap Edit, but yearbook creators must always adhere to journalism ethics. Don’t remove or add subjects. Appearances should not be altered to flatter or humiliate. Don’t add or remove objects. If you missed capturing the football in game action, don’t fake it.