Every year when the first yearbooks meeting rolls around, there is a sense of dread and overwhelm. “Where do we start?” Given that yearbooks are such momentous publications that mean so much to so many and for such a long time, the feeling of responsibility can seem like a weight on the shoulders of all those involved in its creation. We suggest you start with a deep breath, acknowledge the joy that the yearbooks will give readers and then step into the following considerations.
Assemble the team
Firstly, remember that yearbooks are a team effort. No one person should have all of the responsibility at their feet. Determine who has left the team and who has joined it and assign tasks according to suitability and availability of time. In any team, it’s necessary to assign a leader to whom all other participants will report. This leader should call the first meeting and outline the goals, have everyone introduce themselves and their roles and collectively, everyone must adopt a collaborative and encouraging mindset. The leader will be instrumental in making this happen.
Book your printer
Never leave it until halfway through the year to book your yearbook printer. There is too much at stake to risk not being able to find a printer that can supply quality printing and on-time delivery.
Organise group photos to be taken
The earlier you organise for group photos to be scheduled, the surer you can be of the photographs to be delivered by the copy deadline. Name spellings must be checked for accuracy, captions have to be created and the final number of photos needs to be accommodated in the page layouts. Never take it for granted that all teams, departments, classes and boards will be available at the same time for the photoshoot. It will be easier to organise if scheduled early in the year.
Set out the yearbook calendar
One of the first tasks of the year should be to determine the milestones that need to occur for the yearbook to be on pace for the publication and delivery deadline. Your Production Timeline can be as fluid as necessary, with dates changing as targets are met, and also if unforeseen delays occur. It’s best if one person is assigned the task of managing the timeline so that he or she can alert different departments if materials are needed earlier.
Plan the page framework
Creating a yearbook happens in the opposite way to building a house. Whereas in construction, you start with the foundations, then the framing then the outer shell, a yearbook requires a big picture approach. Refer to previous years’ yearbooks to ensure the format remains consistent – or determine where changes can be made if a revamp is in order – and plan each page in advance. In this way, you can work out which sections will be so devoted to what, calculate approximate word count, where images will be required and who will be responsible for particular contributions.
Provide tools to facilitate content creation
It will naturally fall to teachers to provide the bulk of the content for your yearbook however, given their already loaded schedules, giving them some tools will ensure your deadlines are met. Consider assembling a kit, either via a cloud-based system such as Dropbox that they can access and upload as the material is completed or via a USB. Include the following:
- Your yearbook’s page framework
- Word count parameters (minimum and maximum)
- How many images do you require
- A Microsoft Word template into which they can submit stories
- Your yearbook’s style guide
- Instructions regarding submitted images
- A Microsoft Excel template into which they can type salutations, names, titles and qualifications of people who appear in the images (naturally with an emphasis on supplying accurate spelling)
- Assemble branding collateral
Your school’s yearbook is an important branding exercise that will endure the generations. How your yearbook tells the story of your school’s image will be recorded right there in the covers and pages. Source the appropriate materials and have them ready for the graphic designer so that there will be no delays in requesting them. These will include logos, fonts, the school’s USP, key messages and professional imagery.
Consult with a graphic designer
Whilst graphic designers are highly skilled in their craft, they rely on guidance from clients to fully meet the brief. They will need to take you through some design concepts and nail down specifics before creating drafts. This is where you will discuss how the front and back covers should look, how the internal sections will appear and any other individual features such as title pages, contents and index pages and gallery pages. You will also provide them with a collection of branding collaterals as mentioned above.
Assign a Copy Manager
Your yearbook must have a cohesive voice throughout. This can be difficult when you have contributions from a number of different professionals including administrators, teachers, department heads and board members. Your Copy Manager should be someone who is skilled in the use of the written word and will be responsible for editing the submissions so that they present a uniform ‘voice’ throughout the yearbook. They will ensure that the brand message is on point and the tone is consistent.
Meeting timeline goals
The yearbook calendar should be revisited at every meeting and revised accordingly. One team member must be responsible for administering deadlines and following up on outstanding materials. Remember, approvals must be sought for particular items and for the yearbook as a whole. Consider posting a final deadline one month earlier than may at first seem necessary. This will give essential breathing space if some components are late.
The experts are here to help!
We know so much about yearbooks because we print and design them, a lot! If you ever need help, we’re only a phone call or an email away!