Modern design trends: Yearbook edition

The energetic and caffeinated Dan Mueller jumps right in with countless examples of graphic design inspiration. It all comes back to story and how you convey that visually.

Depth in design is Mueller’s favorite thing. He repeats it early and often that it’s all about depth — or layers. And don’t get him started on pull quotes…

Four ways to step up your type game

Vary these elements within your theme look to create contrast in typography.

  1. Size
  2. Color
  3. Font
  4. Case

He has some great tips about cutouts and the amazing background remover tool now available in Canva via eDesign.

After showing off tons of great yearbook work from the past year, Mueller does a PSA for Flipster and reveals some professional work. Magazines are great sources of inspo for yearbook. It could be as big as a feature or as small as a mod.

Be inspired by yearbook spread designs from across the country — and learn what makes them fresh. Watch the video.

How To Sell More Yearbooks

Tiered pricing, discount codes, payment plans and more can help your staff sell more right now

Discounts can be a helpful tool for offering a sale to a specific group and for a short period of time. Be careful about spreading codes far and wide and keep sales windows tight. Check out this great resource about selling your book.

Here are five ways to put discount codes into action today.

  1. GRAD YEAR CODE
    Provide codes to parents who attend a grade-level meeting or back-to-school night. Keep the window short: Give them 48 hours to purchase a discounted book using the code specific to their child’s grade. Ex. “MustangsYBK2025”
  2. FREE STUFF
    Create a promo code for “free personalizations.” Set up a package that includes a name plate or other personalization and provide a discount code for buyers to take that amount off of their purchase.
  3. SENIORS RULE
    Start an early-bird senior ad special. Offer a promo code for submitting those ads by a specific date. For seniors who purchase a yearbook ad, give them a discount on buying their book — and earlier is always better.
  4. OPTICAL ILLUSION
    If your book is $70, which sounds better 10% off or $7 off? Consider the difference between using a percentage discount or a dollar amount. Our new discount codes feature in eBusiness can handle either version.
  5. ANGEL BOOKS
    Provide discount codes to businesses that would like to donate a book to an anonymous student. Reward their generosity with a discount.

Like these? Here’s a great handout with even more ideas.

 

Typography in yearbook design

Tell your school’s story with type 

Self-appointed font queen and all-around outstanding yearbook adviser Carrie Faust gets pumped for letter forms. After starting with “wooooh” she defines the terms surrounding typography.

Make sure to stay tuned until the very end of the video for some very cool inspo spreads.

Typography is by definition artistic. Faust says type should be designed just as much as other elements of the theme.

Spend time with it. Convey the message. Speak to the content.

Parts of type

Faust says to find the font poster in your kit and teach it to your staff.

  • Ascender
  • Baseline
  • Cap height
  • Counter
  • Descender
  • Set width
  • X-height

Types of type

It’s all about that serif. Carrie really breaks these down in the video.

  • Oldstyle
  • Sans serif
  • Modern
  • Slab serif
  • Script/Handwritten
  • Decorative/Novelty

She recommends locking down the “punk freshman” with only a couple font families. And, Faust talks about choosing contrasting type for display and mod headlines.

Fonts can make or break your book. You’ll be able to distinguish the different types of fonts, learn theories about how many fonts should appear in your book, and see how typography can drive your design. Watch the video. (Don’t miss out: Link expires on Oct. 15.)

Making It Your Own

Putting inspiration pieces to work in your yearbook

Decorated and dedicated yearbook adviser and advocate Mike Simons takes viewers on an impressively deep dive in his “Making It Your Own” session.

With numerous examples of professional work and how to use the “yearbook blender” effectively, he breaks down theme inspiration — both visual and verbal. Simons asks attendees to describe your theme like it’s a person. Those details should feed into your “pretty hunt.”

Steps for inspo success

Remember your final product should be an evolution — not a duplication.

  • Find inspiration everywhere. He lists several sites/sources in the video.
  • Copy the piece exactly. Seriously, like the whole thing.
  • Start tweaking. Keep going. Incorporate other theme elements. Change something else.
  • Make your final touches. And, don’t forget to print it out.

Six ways to make the design your own

  1. Color
  2. Typography
  3. Photo treatments
  4. Shape and design elements
  5. Type and photo packaging
  6. Coverage and mod ideas

Learn more about how to turn examples you like into designs (and components) that work for your book, your school, this year. Watch the video. (Don’t miss out: Link expires on Oct. 15.)

22 YBK coverage tips for 2022

What a great way to break down tricks for better storytelling. And, how to create a yearbook people will actually want to read.

Mike Simons helps you discover new and creative ways to get unique stories and coverage in your book. He is a decorated and dedicated yearbook adviser and advocate from Upstate New York — and he has some stories to tell.

From where you’ve been, to where you’re going, he steps through the process with intention. Simons recommends getting to know your “two most important people in the school” — front office person and head custodian. And, that’s just a taste.

Spoiler alert: He does make it through all 22 (even though it’s close).

Here are the first five

Don’t worry, you can view the rest in the full video.

  1. Take a look back: Check the last three years and look to avoid repetitive feature coverage.
  2. Get organized: Are traditional sections for you? What makes sense for the year?
  3. Host a roundtable: Gather. Talk. Record.
  4. Look and listen: You should have the pulse of the school community. Be a creep — appropriately.
  5. Take a hike: What do you hear, see, smell?

Learn more about these great tips for better story leads and angles in your book. Watch the video. (Don’t miss out: Link expires on Oct. 15.)

Designing your yearbook ladder

Your coverage style should inform your structure

Whether you’re new to yearbook, or a new editor, Carrie Faust has some ladder pro tips to share. She’s been doing this YBK thing for a while and has lots of accolades to prove it.

First things first: What’s your coverage plan?

Types of coverage plans

Your content should lead your ladder.

  • Traditional: Topic-based ladder designed at the beginning of the year and doesn’t change.
  • Chronological: Time-based ladder is based on the calendar and allows for evolving school year.
  • Umbrella/Concept: Theme-based ladder is based on exploration and allows for complete customization throughout the year.

Faust’s staff has been using Chrono for years and stands behind it as a coverage technique. She’s also quick to praise Umbrella for being smart — but acknowledges it can be daunting for new advisers and staffs.

She says the planning should start on paper, then move to the computer whether it’s Google Drive or eDesign to put the pieces into place.

Finding coverage balance

Once you remove the ads, index and theme pages, break up the following pages like Faust recommends.

  • Student Life (25 percent)
  • Academics (15 percent)
  • Clubs/Activities (10 percent)
  • Sports (15 percent)
  • People (25 percent)

Get a plan in place for what will go on each page. Learn about different coverage options so you can plan your book. Watch the video. (Don’t miss out: Link expires on Oct. 15.)

Advance Your Yearbook Theme

Find your story and tell it — with both your visual and verbal.

Rockstar yearbook advisers from perennial award-winning programs, Carrie Faust and Mike Simons take some time to talk pandemic probs before diving into what makes a theme tick. Covid shaped 2020-21, and yearbook themes reflected that fact.

Parts of a solid theme

Don’t forget to use various techniques to drive home your theme visually and verbally.

  • Voice
  • Perspective
  • Look
  • Tone
  • Feel
  • Coverage
  • Vibe
  • Features

The order of theme

Seriously, start with the voice then move to the vision.

  1. Story: What are you going to say?
  2. Words: How will you say it?
  3. Pretty: How will you show it?

After touching on finding a theme, the duo shows off a college look book for inspiration. They can’t stress enough how good these pieces are because they target the same readers you do with your yearbook.

Later, they break down a few different examples, including Del Norte High School’s 2021 book because of how well the staff handled their theme.

See what makes a concept strong and take a deep dive into more themes to understand what makes them such powerful unifiers. Watch the video. (Don’t miss out: Link expires on Oct. 15.)

How Susan E. Wagner High School Does Distribution

For more than the last 20 years, Susan E. Wagner High School has hosted a yearbook distribution celebration. Every year, we choose a day at the beginning of June to distribute yearbooks to our graduating class. The event allows the seniors an opportunity to see their fellow classmates (current and past) and a chance to spend time with each other.

2:30 pm. Doors Open. Each senior is lined up in one of the 4 alphabetically situated lanes ( A-G, H-M, N-R, S-Z). Upon coming to the front of the line, each student must provide a form of ID. Once the ID confirms the student, the student gets a wristband, a yearbook and is allowed entry into the school cafeteria.

3-5:30 pm. Once inside, the seniors find tables that allow a good spot to sit down, catch up with classmates and sign yearbooks. In addition to the empty tables, there are tables full of a different variety of wraps, salads, and water bottles. The food is for the seniors to enjoy while signing each other’s books. While they eat and sign books, there is DJ playing the hits the seniors love to hear. When the seniors have signed every book, they exit the school and are greeted by an ice cream truck. The wristband identifies the senior to the ice cream operator.

Important: The event is held at 2:30 pm on a school day in order to allow our faculty to attend the event. Many of our seniors want the faculty who were a crucial part of their four years to sign their book. Our Principal is always present to say a few words on the microphone and to sign books, as well.

It is important to make the distribution of yearbooks a celebration. We don’t want the seniors to get their books and immediately leave the premises. That would limit the signatures they get. It would restrict them to only the people they find themselves around. It would prevent them from getting signatures of friends from their first three years of high school and the signatures of faculty they haven’t had contact with in the last three years.

The celebration is a thank you from the school to the graduates.

BASH PELINKOVIC
Susan E. Wagner High School Adviser • Staten Island, NY

 

Notes for Great Editors

Find your truth in these gold standards

Your time is now. You’ve spent years working hard to help produce incredible yearbooks, but now you’re the EIC. You might think this is your opportunity to kick up your feet and watch everyone else do all the work. What you may not realize is that this is the most important job you’ve ever had. Here are truths of the most successful editors:

They know the importance of HAVING A PLAN. They think about what needs to get done, and they set up a plan to make it happen, working after school or during lunches with their adviser to ensure the publication runs smoothly. Their plan isn’t just for the yearbook staff, but for themselves. Highly successful EICs plan their own time, even in yearbook. They ask themselves, “When will I help other staffers?” and “Do I have a plan to get my own work done?”

They are the editor they needed when they were a staffer. Strong EICs don’t just happen without a lot of reflection. They think back to their first days on yearbook and remember what it was like knowing nothing and having everyone freaking out about deadlines. They are empathetic to the trials of being a yearbook staffer and are willing to help teach staffers skills, instead of taking it on and doing it themselves.

They write things down. Not just a note in their phone, but they put notes everywhere they or others might need to see them. The act of writing something down makes the memory process both visual and kinesthetic. A hand-written ladder gives a more concrete understanding of the book — and your plan. A planner with deadlines helps with time management. Some of the best editors I’ve ever had, covered the edges of their computer screens in sticky notes.

They had a note for everything and even color coded them so they knew what was important. Once the task was done, they were able to get rid of that note.

They go above and beyond while managing a life balance. We get it. You have an entire courseload, not just yearbook, but think of this as your first full-time job. You are managing a staff and meeting real-world deadlines while handling things you need to tackle outside of your happy little yerd world. A strong editor knows that good enough is neither good nor enough. This is where we circle back to the third point! Develop a planner system where you can manage your other class assignments but still leave room for your job. Leave a legacy for others to rise to in the future.

They still remember to have fun. Yearbook is unlike any other class. The relationships you form during your time in yearbook can be transformational. You are creating one of the most amazing things any high schooler can do, and you’re stuck together. Tensions can get high when everyone is stressing over that December deadline. Sometimes we just need a break. Proper planning allows time for fun activities for your staff. The social well-being of staffers is just as important as the skills needed to create a yearbook. Your staff is your family, and the best way to support each other is to laugh together.

KATIE MERRITT, MJE
Darlington School • Rome, GA

The Art of the Interview

Art of the interview2

 

It’s so much more than just getting a quote

I had the privilege, for several summers, of teaching at journalism workshops with Kathy Craghead, the late (and very great) long-time yearbook adviser at Mexico High School in Missouri. She often told the story of looking up from her desk and seeing a yearbook staff member preparing to exit the room.

Her question: “Where are you going?”

The student’s answer: “To get a quote.”

Ms. Craghead likened this to a student leaving the room to get a Coke: Put your money in the machine, out pops a cold can; walk up to a source, get a quote. The end.

But getting a quote is not the same as conducting an interview that will result in full, detailed responses from a student or teacher. Details that will make your yearbook copy come alive and be worth reading, not just on the day your book comes out, but also 10, 20, even 30 years later.

First, you must cover an event at the event. You cannot write about a game, play or concert if you are not there in person, from its beginning (or even before) to its conclusion (or even after). Sending a text a month later and asking questions such as, “What was your favorite part of homecoming?” doesn’t provide anything more than a canned response that could be printed year after year — after year.

If you’re covering an event, you have to show up. You have to see the sights, smell the smells, feel the chill in the air at a football game, hear the audience crack up at the line delivered by a freshman at the spring musical. Those details will add to your copy.

Talking to your sources at the event allows you to provide perspective along with their immediate reaction. Have a yearbook staff member follow a photographer as she shoots an event and interview the photographer’s subjects immediately. Asking for a response of the just-crowned homecoming queen at halftime elicits much more detail than asking her to comment six weeks later when you’re finishing the spread.

While you need to prepare a list of questions, be flexible. If your source provides you with information you didn’t expect, ask a follow-up or two.

And consider ending with this, no matter your topic or source: “Ten years from now, what do you think you will remember about this event/game/occasion?” That question provides perspective and allows your source to see and share the big picture.

Tony Willis
Cathedral HS • Indianapolis, IN

 

BREAKOUT:
FIVE TIPS FOR CONDUCTING AN INTERVIEW

Be prepared.
Collect background information and research (and this might include talking to individuals who you never quote in your copy) and preparing questions.

Be there.
Conduct the interview where the event occurs. Interview the drum major as she comes off the field at the BOA Grand Nationals, not three weeks later in the school library.

Be flexible.
Yes, be prepared, but don’t just stick to your list of written questions. A good interview is a conversation, not a question-and-answer survey.

Be in the moment.
Take complete, detailed, handwritten notes and also record the interview. Don’t depend on technology to do your job.

Be organized.
As soon as possible after the interview is over, review your notes. Listen to the recording and transcribe the interview, both your questions and the source’s answers. Doing so is the key to getting the correct information and accurate direct quotes