Create a School Yearbook for Lasting Student Memories

Source: Edutopia

We all indulge in a walk down memory lane. We go back as far as our student days, giggle at the memory of our embarrassment when we said something silly in class, or we think about our high school sweetheart and the moments we had together. The memory of those moments and events that we take into adulthood is embodied in a school yearbook.

For all students to have that chest of precious memories in the future, you should carefully plan your yearbook project and include everything students and other stakeholders will hold dear forever. Though it is a whole-year project requiring deep thinking and much legwork, you and your team will undoubtedly enjoy the process.

Read on to learn more about how to create a yearbook everybody will always gladly go back to.

What Is the Purpose of the School Yearbook?

Yearbooks generate a sense of history and tradition. Alongside other publications, such as a school newsletter, an attractive and successful yearbook promotes the school’s identity, culture, and social standing. A yearbook aims to promote:

  1. School pride
  2. Student pride
  3. Social interaction
  4. Alumni relations
  5. School involvement

School Pride

Yearbooks are the school’s PR tool, and they help convey a sense of school pride and unity. The cover and pages of the yearbook often feature school emblems, mottoes, colors, or even school innovations and culture quotes. Yearbooks are a reminder that teachers, students, and staff members share a purpose.

Student Pride

Yearbooks are also a source of student pride. Students appreciate seeing their own stories and school progress covered in yearbook sections. You should include pages devoted to student achievements and accomplishments in athletics, academics, and community service.

Social Interaction

Most students appreciate having their yearbooks signed by classmates and teachers. It is something they look forward to revisiting in the future, and it is a positive and fun type of social interaction. The notes and messages in yearbooks add an extra layer of significance for students to keep for life.

Alumni Relations

As years go by, yearbooks are a great way to refresh people’s memories of their student days. Walking down that memory lane is an enjoyable experience for all of us, and it can help reunite us with the school and our peers.

The Main Parts of a Yearbook

Although the design and size of school yearbooks may vary, all yearbooks have a similar structure. As school yearbooks are a physical reminder of the past year, you should structure it in such a way so that it reflects the chronology of that year. The parts of a traditional yearbook are presented in the table below.

Main Yearbook Parts A Brief Overview
Yearbook cover It makes the first impression on the reader and usually sets the theme for the entire yearbook.
Title page It includes the school name, city, state, year, and any other related information.
Opening section It introduces the theme or explains the concept of the yearbook and often includes the Table of Contents.
Coverage sections These segments are all about sports, academics, student life, special events, school organizations, and more.
Dividers They indicate new sections and improve the flow of the yearbook.
Endsheets Usually featuring a message from the editor, they close the story of the school year.
Closing section It reflects the theme of the yearbook or the school’s colors.
Index It is a complete alphabetical listing of all students, teachers, and staff with indicated pages featuring their photos.

How To Create a School Yearbook

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Being a school project that takes a whole academic year to complete, a yearbook requires a lot of consideration and thorough planning. To make one that the school stakeholders will be willing to read and gladly revisit after many years, you have to mind the following:

  1. The yearbook team
  2. The budget
  3. Deadlines and the calendar
  4. Content outline
  5. Photos
  6. Page template
  7. Page design
  8. Cover design
  9. Editing

Assembling the Team

One of the fundamental steps to creating a yearbook is ensuring that the right and enthusiastic people are on it. They will make a team that will collaborate throughout the year, making sure that they display diverse skills as a whole.

The crucial role to assign is that of the chief editor, as they will take on the major workload. This role should go to an experienced person—for example, a seasoned student who has been an editor or a yearbook team member before.

Now, you can move on to designate other roles, such as writers and photographers. Writers can be students who belong to the literary club or who are enthusiastic about the role. Similarly, photographers can be professionals or any students willing to take photos at school events, such as fundraisers, sports competitions, and many more. They do not even need professional cameras as modern smartphones can do the work just fine.

Setting the Budget

Establishing the budget is vital for your yearbook project team since it will serve as a guide to what expenses they can incur and what to avoid. The team has to prioritize so that the school does not go into debt and that students and parents can afford a copy, which can be quite pricey if the production costs are high.

To track their expenses, your team can develop a method of approving and recording their activity. It will help them stay within the school’s budget limits.

Setting Deadlines and Minding the Calendar

As the yearbook project spans throughout the academic year and covers events that happen within that time, setting deadlines is a must.

All events that transpire during the academic year are potential content for the yearbook, and your team has to decide what events deserve to be featured in it. To make a selection of those that will make it to the book, the team has to keep track of the school calendar to be able to cover them. In addition to that, the calendar helps them meet the deadlines for each category of the yearbook compilation.

Creating Content Outline

Brainstorm ideas as to what categories you want to include in the school yearbook. It is easier to start with the basics, such as photos, and proceed to more demanding content, such as events, clubs, field trips, musical performances, and school competitions.

Once you have finished brainstorming content ideas, you can develop page ideas. You should keep in mind to include pages on students, teachers, and other staff.

The standard yearbook items are presented in the table below.

Yearbook Content Specifics
School administrators Names, titles, photos, and messages
Faculty portraits Teachers, office staff, and other personnel
Student portraits Class group photos and head-shots
Special awards Students and teachers
School events Field trips, spirit day, and more
Special classes P.E., art, music, science, and others
Clubs and teams Book club, charity club, sports team
Graduating class Achievements, college admissions, and more

Requesting Photo Submissions

You want your yearbook to display a variety of moments, and pictures are a great way to convey them. Some photos can feature:

  • Clubs
  • Field trips
  • Sports teams
  • Students at recess

Notify the student body that you are gathering photos capturing memorable moments for the yearbook. Encourage them to be creative while making those photos and share them with your team.

Making a Page Template

You have to create and maintain a sense of consistency throughout each page layout. A great yearbook has cohesion and a common theme that ties all the pages together.

You can harness the chief editor’s expertise to help you set guidelines so that your team has parameters to work within and meet the goals set for each page.

Designing Pages

Designing pages is a crucial step to making a successful and memorable yearbook. At this stage, your team starts to add the content—stories and photos—to the pages. The chief editor should supervise this process to ensure that the team follows the schedule, template, and content outline.

Make sure to strike a balance between the stories and photos, as overlooking one in favor of another will generate an incomplete yearbook.

Designing the Cover

As it is the first thing readers see, the cover has to set the yearbook’s tone. The design can range from simple to more elaborate, but it is important that it is engaging. You should brainstorm ideas with the team as to what theme it will feature.

You can also engage other students to create their designs and submit them to the team by the due date.


This stage is all about the editor’s work, especially the work of the chief editor.

Editors now have to review each page in the yearbook, checking the page layout designs, making sure that each photo is properly formatted, and scanning the text for potential typos.

Having finished the editing phase, you can now have the yearbook printed.

Tips for Writing Effective Yearbook Stories

Source: Suzy Hazelwood@Pexels

When writing a yearbook story, it helps to set principles that will guide your writing process. You have to tailor your story so that the reader will be willing to read it through to the end. The following are some tips to make your story impeccable:

  1. Boost the headline
  2. Make a powerful lede
  3. Keep the paragraph and sentence structures short and simple
  4. Garner reader attention
  5. Be specific and accurate
  6. Follow the set style guide

Boost the Headline

A headline can either make or break your story. Its purpose is to draw the reader in with a promise of high-quality content and anticipation.

A powerful headline is:

  • Short
  • Specific
  • Standalone
  • Unique

Make a Powerful Lede

Start your story with critical information to attract your readers and make sure they grasp the story’s message. When you write the introduction to a yearbook’s story, keep the following in mind:

  • Fulfill the promise made in the headline
  • Provide critical information that readers need
  • Introduce action, conflict, or emotion
  • Make readers want to learn more

Keep the Paragraph and Sentence Structures Short and Simple

Nowadays, people tend not to read long sentences. The safest possible route to writing a memorable yearbook is to keep sentences short and simple, as well as use strong verbs and nouns. Discard all the excess.

As people find short paragraphs more alluring, your paragraphs should focus on one thought or quote, even one sentence.

Garner Reader Attention

The style and vocabulary of your writing should reflect the way you speak. The yearbook is not an academic piece of writing, so keep the conversational tone in your stories. That said, there are things to mind—slang and grammar. Avoid slang as much as possible and abide by basic grammar rules.

Every once in a while, give your reader a treat with Q&A sections, facts boxes, timelines, public opinion polls, or quote collections. They will help the reader take a break from the text, and they will maintain the dynamics of the covered topic.

Be Specific and Accurate

As the yearbook is a report of the events that happen throughout the year, it is vital that you are as specific and accurate as possible. For example, if your story is about the school’s sports team having a winning season, you should mention their score.

Follow the Set Style Guide

Before starting the actual writing, set the rules for using names, titles, and figures. There should also be rules for punctuation and capitalization. Refer to The Associated Press Stylebook if you have any dilemmas.

In the table below, you can find additional tips for writing an interesting yearbook story.

Dos Don’ts
Use active voice Avoid vague words, such as a lot, several, many, a few, or some
Write in the third person Use clichés
Use direct quotes and attribute them Use dates and labels
Make positive statements Write your opinion—focus on the facts

How To Cut the Costs of Creating a School Yearbook

Yearbooks are a great way for school stakeholders to look back to the carefree time at school. In terms of memories, school yearbooks are priceless, but they can cost you dearly when it comes to money. Since yearbooks typically cost between $50 and $150, many students and parents cannot afford them. To many parents, that is a lot of money when compared to the price of textbooks.

The traditional printing model benefits the publisher because it guarantees them the revenue, but schools usually suffer huge losses if they at least do not break even. To minimize school’s losses, you can do some of the following:

  1. Proper budget planning
  2. On-demand publishing
  3. Self-publishing

Proper Budget Planning

Proper planning refers to what steps schools can take to cut the production costs—plan the budget—before they start to create an actual yearbook. They need to look at the bigger picture and see whether there is a demand for yearbooks, what publishing company to contract, and how to raise additional money to support the yearbook project. The crucial steps to take are:

  • Check how many students are interested in getting a yearbook and at what price
  • Analyze the statistics of the previous years to see whether the total number of copies was sold
  • Check what conditions publishing companies offer to avoid hidden costs
  • Estimate the final printing expenditures
  • Obtain money through ads or fundraisers
  • Check whether the project requires additional expenditures in terms of technology, office supplies, travel expenses for the team’s field trips, and more

On-Demand Publishing

On-demand publishing is an excellent solution for schools aiming to save money on yearbook production. It is because the publishing company does not require the school to commit to a set number of copies in advance.

It uses modern technology to print one copy at a time, which means that they can produce as many books as required. They also provide the option of customization in terms of size and colors.

The on-demand publishing model enables schools to step aside and allow parents and students to approach the publisher and order a copy directly. If the school is in charge of distributing the copies of the yearbook, they can request a small number of copies at first and reorder if the demand increases.

This is a cost-effective method for schools since they will not end up with a surplus of copies—which often happens with traditional publishers—if they miscalculate the quantity they need or students change their minds about buying one.


Another great way to cut the inessential costs is self-publishing. Similarly to on-demand publishing, it allows more flexibility regarding the purchase order. Sometimes, they do have a minimum order requirement—most of them do not—but it is insignificant compared to the one traditional publishers do. That means that schools can order the exact number of copies they need, without piling up the extra ones and losing money if they miscalculate the demand.

The self-publishing method also offers a customization option, which means that individuals can personalize their yearbook to emphasize the mark of each student and reflect their achievements and successes. After finishing the design, schools can place an online order and soon receive their final product.

The production process and turnaround time are much faster, which gives the team working on the yearbook more time to compile the material and include activities that happen in the last couple of months before the school ends.

Thinking Yearbook?

A school yearbook should be a memento of priceless moments that students carry to and cherish in their adulthood.

Yes, it is an elaborate whole-year project requiring a lot of dedication, but it is worth all the effort when you reminisce with pleasure about antics you and your peers performed in the classroom and schoolyard, on field trips and other events.

Are you planning a yearbook? Do you have any novel ideas? Is there anything you would like to do differently in your yearbook? Be imaginative! Write your story, and we will publish it on our blog.

Give your contribution now.