Deadlines Made Easier

Deadlines Made Easier

It may sound crazy, but you don’t have to lose sleep over deadlines. Yes, they are undeniably, no-two-ways-about-it VERY IMPORTANT to keep in mind in a yearbook program. And managing them is a skill that your staff needs to have down to an art as quickly as possible. Managing time and successfully meeting deadlines isn’t just a necessary skill in the staff room, but like the many things one learns on staff, it’s a skill that will prove to be valuable later on in life, too! Here are some tips to say goodbye to deadline blues forevermore:  

  1. Mark deadline dates on your own calendar. As adviser, you’re the responsible one and truly, the only one that needs to know the actual deadline dates. Compare plant production days and your school’s academic calendar. Do any of the dates fall on testing days or holidays? Plan accordingly.
  2. Set staff completion deadline dates two weeks prior to the plant’s submission deadline dates. By having a two-week window, you will have wiggle room to breathe when a staff (inevitably) doesn’t have pages ready on time. This is where staffers’ grades are taken into consideration, as well.
  3. Send in pages as soon as they’re complete. Don’t wait to send a large batch of 80 pages — if only 40 are ready, send 40.
  4. When deadlines are successfully met, reward your staff. Give them a day off from yearbook, throw a small party with food or watch a movie as a staff. Incentives like these do wonders for motivation (aka finishing subsequent deadlines on time, too!)
  5. Complete as many pages as possible before winter break — for two good reasons. When you get ahead, you and your staff can relax together before the break with holiday celebrations and much needed downtime. Plus, you won’t want to face a big deadline right away when your staff returns in January. That’s unnecessary pressure that can be avoided.  

Implementing these tips can seriously alleviate deadline stress. Emphasize to your staff the benefits of being on top of each and every deadline. Less stress and more fun make for a very happy year in the staff room.

3 Pieces of Advice for New Advisers, From Advisers

Advice for the First Year Adviser

No one becomes an expert at anything the first time they try it. But it helps tremendously to get advice from those who do know what they’re doing. Advising yearbook is no exception. The task of overseeing the creation of the yearbook can seem daunting, intimidating and overwhelming to say the least, but as you set off on this exciting journey, know you’re not alone.

Read on for three experienced advisers’ advice if you’re newer to this whole yearbook thing.

“It’s okay to not be the expert in the publication room and know everything. Acknowledge that this year you are going to absorb as much knowledge as you can about advising. Let your yerds — students and Herff community — share with you their expertise and skills and then try to pick one or two things that you really want to focus on during the year with your staff to make the best yearbook possible. When you are struggling, reach out to your Herff family, and they’ll support you however they can. You have just begun one of the greatest rides in your teaching career. Embrace your yerdiness and enjoy the ride!”



Justin Daigle, CJE
Brighton (CO) High School
Yearbook Adviser

When I’m not getting my Yerd on, you can find me being an uncle to my niece and two nephews (future yerds in the making) or jamming out to some Carrie Underwood (in the car, in the classroom, anywhere and everywhere!) But chances are I’m doing all three at the same time! Life is good.


“Yearbook advisers need to support their students. I think it’s really important to spend some time at the beginning of the school year bonding. I plan bonding activities for the first four Fridays of the school year. At our school, we are lucky to have a ropes course, so we do that at least once. I also have my editors come up with activities and games. Although bonding is important, my staff needs to understand that I will support them, and go head to head with other teachers or administrators who give them a hard time, but they always have to be following our guidelines and be polite and respectful. My staff can’t be confirming the fears of other teachers, that yearbook students are getting their friends out of class to chat. We have to prove every year that we are serious journalists, and as long as my staff works at that, I will support them.”


Stephaine Orth

Stephanie Orth
Lake Orion (MI) High School
Yearbook Adviser

After seven years of advising the Dragon yearbook, I have come to realize it is my passion.  I love the creative outlet it provides, the fresh start each year with a new theme and staff, and the crazy number of possibilities available to us as we strive to document the school year. I also teach English and Journalism, have three daughters, a second home in northern Michigan and love yoga, running, downhill skiing and reading.


“Welcome, first-year advisers! Feeling a bit overwhelmed, nervous, lost? DON’T! You are about to embark on a wonderful adventure. Let your creativity surface, and think outside of that proverbial box. Sure, you may encounter terms like “pica” that you may only see on Jeopardy, “crop” that has nothing to do with riding horses, others, like “bleed,” which fortunately don’t need a Band-Aid, or “grid” that has no resemblance to carpool gridlock at 3 p.m. And “drop cap” doesn’t mean that you have dropped the toothpaste top down the drain!

But once you master these terms, it will all start to make sense, and you will be well on your way. You may never look at your favorite magazine in quite the same way; instead of clipping recipes and household hints, you will begin to look for cool font combinations, caption and copy starters and the latest design elements. Take advantage of the support that Herff Jones offers: your rep will be knowledgeable and helpful — before long he or she will be more than a lifeline on speed dial, they will be a friend. Order the company’s yearbook curriculum and use it in your classroom. Check out the Herff Jones website. There is a wealth of helpful information online in addition to scores of sample yearbook pages to browse through. Join your state’s scholastic press association and attend some workshops; this will allow you to not only broaden your journalistic horizons, but to meet other advisers, as well. Embrace the opportunity you have been given. You will be glad you did.”



Janey Miller
Mobile (AL) UMS-Wright Preparatory School
Yearbook Adviser

A former varsity volleyball, cross country and track and field coach, I now love being a full-time yerd! Living on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico with my hubby and my toes in the sand, my nose in a good (year)book and any one of my five grandkiddos in my arms makes me one happy gal!

10 Tips to Help You Survive Your First Year as Yearbook Adviser

10 Tips to Help You Survive Your First Year as Yearbook Adviser
  1. Since nobody at your school does what you do, collaborate with other yearbook advisers whenever you get the chance. Join your state’s scholastic journalism organization and utilize your yearbook rep. Don’t isolate yourself.
  1. Right away, take pictures and sell yearbooks.
  1. Set high expectations, but remember they are just kids.
  1. No matter what, though, keep in mind that you can’t do this all by yourself. Your yearbook staff will have to put in the time for the book they want.
  1. Your yearbook does not have to win an award in your first year as an adviser. In my first year, we focused on photography. We had awful captions and minimal copy. We worked on those later.
  1. Celebrate. Have fun. Laugh at yourself when necessary and appropriate. Reward your staff. Food is a great motivator.
  1. Set your own deadlines about two weeks before the real deadline.
  1. Brag about your accomplishments. Tell your principal (and the local newspaper) how awesome your kids are doing. If you do have issues, remember, what happens in yearbook stays in yearbook.
  1. Attend a workshop. If you missed the summer workshop, look for a fall workshop. If you can’t attend with students, go by yourself.
  1. Remember that every year is a fresh start. Every yearbook should represent the year it is printed and should be the work of the students who worked on it. Listen to “We’ve always done it this way,” but then do what works for you and your staff in your year.

Yearbook Academy: What is a Theme?

Yearbook Academy: What is a Theme?

When it comes to creating your best yearbook yet, you can never have enough resources. Just in time for the start of the school year, we’re introducing Yearbook Academy, a series of short videos that will help your staff create and market the yearbook. We’ll be featuring a few of the videos on the blog, but if want access to watch them all, visit the Yearbook Academy page and log in with your HJ credentials. If you’re not yet a Herff Jones customer, click here to watch the entire collection of Yearbook Academy videos. Your editors and staff will love learning more about yearbook from this new video series.




A theme is made up two components:

  • A verbal statement
  • A visual look

These two components should provide unity throughout the book and effectively tell the story of the year.

A good theme is a verbal statement, paired with a visual look that ties the book together

The theme should appear on:

  • Cover
  • Endsheets
  • Title page
  • Opening
  • Dividers
  • Index
  • Closing
  • Folios

The theme should be developed through:

  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Design
  • Type
  • Graphics
  • Color
  • Story content
  • Book organization

Look for each and every possible opportunity to weave your theme into your coverage!

*If you want access to watch them all, visit the Yearbook Academy page and log in with your HJ credentials. Not yet a Herff  Jones customer? Click here to gain access to the entire collection of Yearbook Academy videos.

10 Tips for Selling Yearbook Ads

10 Tips for Selling Yearbook Ads

Selling copies of the yearbook is the most important source of the program’s income, while selling ads is the next best source of revenue. Senior parent ads and even student friendship ads can help, but the business community often supports your school by purchasing ad space in the yearbook. It’s really a win-win relationship — their business gets exposure and your yearbook program gains necessary funds. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind before your yearbook staff sets out to sell to surrounding businesses.


Brainstorm the potential target list, including previous years’ advertisers. Add from the local Chamber of Commerce membership list,  yearbook staffers’ contacts and  acquaintances and any businesses you drive past that aren’t already on your list.


Select dates that might provide the greatest response from local businesses. It’s not a bad idea to assign ad sales goals during the summer when school is out, and it’s an even greater feeling to go into the new school year having already sold ads and some established revenue.


Divide and conquer once you create a master list of potential advertisers. Assign specific businesses to specific staffers or if staffers have a personal connection to a business, or a preference to which businesses they approach, let your staff begin by calling “dibs” on those certain businesses.


Bring in your product — your staff’s yearbook, of course! Bookmark great examples of all ad sizes you offer, ads that have been pre-designed, business card ads that have been scanned in and show your point person ads that your staff have created. Show them what you can do for them and their business. Find out how many books you sold last year and let them know how an ad in your yearbook will increase their business’s visibility.


Consider community groups as potential advertisers. Community service groups, non-profits and military recruiters are all potential sources of ad revenue. More ads for school groups like band and student council are appearing in books from coast to coast. Some have expanded to include AP classes and other small groups that have purchased pages.


Patron ads are a way to make it possible for individuals to help support the yearbook. A one line, two line or three line listing can be an inexpensive way for individuals and small businesses to be included.


Follow-up is the key to getting as many business ads as possible included in the yearbook. If the owner/manager is out when the initial sales call is made, be sure someone goes back to talk to the decision maker.


When the time comes, whether you’re working on ads over the summer or first thing when school starts, be sure to proof all business ads very carefully. It is best to stop by the business or send a PDF of the ad by email for approval before it is finalized.


Collection of all ad revenue should be completed before ads are actually submitted to the plant. Make it clear in all communications with the advertisers that full payment needs to be made by a specified date. Leave no room for confusion — they’re busy and so are you.


Submit the pages after careful proofing, knowing that you have a jump start on the deadline process by being able to submit income-generating pages early in the production season. Checking ads off your list and having necessary funds can pave the way for stress-free yearbook days!

For more great tips and useful guides check out

Imitation vs Inspiration

Imitation vs Inspiration

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” In some instances, this phrase can be true, however, when it comes to design, imitation is more often a four-letter word that leads to hurt feelings, public shaming or even copyright lawsuits for “ripping off” the original designer’s work. Although those whose work is copied in the yearbook world may not go as far as to lawyer up, most consider it anything but a compliment.

Having a background as a Herff Jones traveling artist and product designer for almost a decade, I’ve seen and worked on A LOT of yearbook covers. While most of my sessions were filled with creative ideas fueled by inspiration, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down with a staff and they pulled out a magazine, poster or even another yearbook and say, “We want this design, but change it to our theme and school colors.” Good people, I give you imitation. Simply changing colors and text does not necessarily make a design your own.

There is nothing wrong with loving a design and gaining inspiration from it. You should, however, avoid copying it outright. Ask yourself WHY you like it. WHAT is it about the design that draws you in? The key in avoiding imitation and using inspiration is the ability to take aspects of a design you love and find a solution to make them work in a new way.

See below for examples of how marketing designers have used inspiration in the process of updating the HJ Litho Design covers.

Imitation vs Inspiration

The examples above show inspirational adaptations that involved combining ideas to create another. The great news is that is part of an easy solution. Rather than copy someone’s work, you can avoid all of the issues by changing aspects of the original that allow you to communicate more effectively. By changing colors, shapes, scale, fonts, order and other aspects of the work that inspired you, you can develop answers to your personal design “problems.”

Being a stronger designer is part inspiration, part adaptation and part the willingness to rework until you’re satisfied.


There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, and those include commonly identifiable elements of design/verbal elements. A great example of this is “Keep Calm and Carry On” — lots of different adaptations of that common phrase, designed like the original, have been created, and that’s okay. It’s relatable to varied audiences, no matter what it says to keep calm about. Another example is Mastercard’s ads that list objects with prices and lastly, closes with a sentimental piece and deeming it “priceless” — we all are familiar with that. When going with one of these popular elements often seen through the window of pop culture, it’s easy to do it the right way. You may choose to incorporate a phrase, icone or device due to its timely relevance. It could help mark your school year. In order to actually resonate with your readers, the design elements have to resemble the original to the point where the play on words and design is immediately identifiable without tons of interpretation. This is a completely different ballpark, and therefore not imitation. The more you know…


Curate an inspiration board. Whether it be a Pinterest board, a saved folder of images on your desktop or a corkboard in the classroom, save photos, color palettes and design elements that speak to you. Having these things to shuffle through on the days you’re feeling stuck will help to keep those creative juices flowing.

They’re in the Book, but Haven’t Purchased One. What Now?

they're in the book

Referring to the index list/coverage report constantly is a best practice of top-notch yearbook staffs. It lets you know to schedule an interview with Bryan about his passion for antique cars, and in turn, avoid Sara who plays varsity soccer, is president of SGA and was on homecoming court. You want your book and your staff to be credible. Your student body doesn’t want to receive a book with the same handful of faces throughout, so make an extra effort to include everyone.

Hopefully this is something your staff does as a matter of practice. So now it’s time to take a look at a list of students who have or haven’t bought a book, and compare that with the ongoing coverage list. If there are students who are in the book three times, but haven’t bought a book yet, make a point to let them know!

You can do this a few ways. Order “Last Chance” postcards to distribute. (Call your CSA with item number: 0406-000-667 to order free of charge.) Or stick a Post-It note on their locker letting them know they’re in it and don’t want to miss out. Or, if you’re an eDesign and eBusiness user, take advantage of Send and Sell to create custom messages and email them to non-buyers. Create a sense of urgency surrounding the need to own a copy of the yearbook which will house the year’s memories, forever!

Keep the Coverage Flowing

Keep the Coverage Flowing

A new term, proofs on top of deadlines, early onset senioritis and winter weather doldrums can all take their toll on yearbook production. But remember — the finish line is almost here. A couple more deadlines and the yearbook will be finished!

This is a great time to step back and recall that enthusiasm we all had at theme-planning time and bring some of that excitement back into the yearbook room. Now is also the perfect time to look ahead and envision the excitement of yearbooks arriving on campus and distribution events where the entire school community gets to share and re-live all the memories of the year that have been preserved forever in the 2016 yearbook.

But first, we need to finish those final deadlines which might entail some, or all, of the following tasks:

  • Finishing up winter sports coverage, including any playoff games or meets
  • Getting a head-start on spring sports coverage by gathering team schedules, spread editors introducing themselves to coaches, interviews with players about preseason training and preparation
  • Double checking the activities calendar to make sure all events planned for inclusion on the final deadlines are still on track to actually happen and that pre-event coverage gets done
  • Verifying all remaining group shots are scheduled and necessary advance information is taken care of so club members and faculty advisers all know the details for their groups
  • Keeping the index updated and running coverage reports to make sure every person at your school is included in the book, or will be on the pages for upcoming deadlines

While there are still plenty of details to attend to as we approach the deadline finish line, also remember to continue to have fun as a yearbook team. Right now may be the perfect time to pull out one of the stress relief activity cards from the HJ Curriculum Skill Set Cards and write a deadline haiku or share some “Me” Time, all of which may help generate some coverage ideas in the process.

Repeat after me – “We’re almost there. We’re almost there. We’re almost…”

Additional resources: Contact your HJ Rep for the entire set.

Teaching Yearbook Journalism Skill Set Cards

Will You Remember?

Will You Remember?

Very few people will be willing to do the extra work to go back and look up the cost of a pair of jeans, a movie ticket, a gallon of gas or a first class stamp during their years in high school. Even fewer could accurately remember the cost of taking the SAT, that daily coffee or a seat at the concert of the year.

And while those details might not really seem to matter, they are an important part of the history that a great yearbook creates. Recording the details of the year means more than making sure to identify photos, including complete scoreboards and having an accurate index. Your staff is creating the only permanent record of this year at your school, and keeping the goal of recording history in mind means your yearbook will be valuable for more than just memories in 10 years and 20 and more.

Aspire to include information that might mean little today, but will be certain to capture the readers’ attention in years to come. Long captions allow you to preserve details about new apps, the cost of new technology, students’ favorite brands for fashion and prices they paid for everything from snacks and entertainment to clothes, phones and college applications.

It’s often said that if a group/event/topic is not included in the yearbook, in five years, it will be as though it never existed. As simplistic as it sounds, the adage is definitely true. You have the power — and the responsibility — to preserve this year for your readers forever.

And, for the record, gas was 59¢ a gallon when I was a senior; jeans and concerts ranged from $8-12 and a stamp cost 13¢. Knowing this today, I’m a leading contender in our class trivia game at next year’s class reunion, where we’ll pay more for the weekend’s festivities than we did for all of our college applications combined!