A staff manual is an essential element in building a strong yearbook program. Without it, the year’s experience is lost and each new staff is forced to grapple with the same problems from year to year. Each staffer should keep a notebook in a three-ring binder. Once a week (i.e. the first 10 minutes of class on Friday), staffers should update their notebooks. At the end of each grading period, the notebooks can be evaluated as an important part of the class.

The staff manual benefits the yearbook program in three ways: it helps staffers stay on task and organized, it helps the adviser with the grading process and, most importantly, it gives next year’s staff the benefit of this year’s staff experiences. In short, it is extremely helpful in building a strong program and a quality book.

Your manual may vary from this sample. Customize it to fit your needs.


• Letter from adviser/editor
• Mission statement of yearbook staff goals
• Organization chart
• Yearbook staff job descriptions and responsibilities
• Staff contract signed by staff members
• Staff directory with contact info, work schedules, birthdays, etc.
• Month-by-month calendar of deadlines, production nights, birthdays, holidays, etc.
• Deadlines – When, what and who is responsible
• Deadline check list: from page design to complete spread
• Week-to-week staff work plan
• Weekly progress reports
• Production check list for each completed spread
• Glossary of terms
• AP style guidelines for spelling and grammar consistency
• Press law information
• Design guidebook of templates
• Ladder and coverage ideas
• Fact-finding sheet for copywriting
• Writing samples: list of present tense verbs, types of captions, types of leads, headlines, etc.
• Section guide sheet: fonts, graphics, type, number of columns, etc. for each section
• Grading criteria
• List of who to contact for sports/organizations
• Philosophy of problems: (Worked out with staff, adviser and principal)
– obituaries
– portraits (how to handle absences, moves, change in grade, etc.)
-book sales
-controversial issues
-personal ads

Contributed by:
Jane Roehrig & Heidi Bryant
Herff Jones Sales Professionals, CA