24 Yearbook Terms Everyone Needs to Know

Stuff. Thingamajig. Whatchamacallit.

If your day job isn’t in desktop publishing or graphic design (or teaching it), you and your yearbook team probably use those words to get across what you’re trying to say. You know what it is you’re trying to say, but you just … can’t … find … the yearbook terms you need to do it in a way that makes sense to everyone.

So, you use filler that causes more confusion than clarity.

We’ve talked to a bunch of yearbook advisers, and a lack of proper yearbook vocabulary is a common problem. Especially when new people join the team. We figured, then, that it would be good to pull together a list of yearbook terms everyone needs to know (and a whole bunch more that just about everyone should know).

Study up, and you could be skipping this type of painful conversation in nearly no time at all:

“We need to get that thing on page 8 done, so we can get those pages proofed?”

“What stuff?”

“You know… the… the… It’s right next to the whatchamacallit.”

“I’m not really sure what you’re talking about… You mean the thingamajig that I was working on?”


And, besides avoiding a conversation as bad and confusing as this, who doesn’t like learning new… uhh… stuff?


A List of Yearbook Terms Everyone Needs to Know

  • Bleed. The bleed is extra space around your page that is intentionally printed, then trimmed by the printer. The standard bleed size is 1/8 inch, and is usually used to allow for movement the paper during printing.
  • Byline. A byline is a line that gives credit to the author of a story. It can appear either at the beginning or end of copy.
  • Candids. Candids are photos that are captured without posing your subjects or distracting them from what they’re doing. They’re great for capturing everyday aspects of school life.
  • Caption. A caption is a page element that explains the who, what, when, where, and why of a photo. Captions can also be used in the yearbook to tell readers something they would not otherwise know when looking at a photograph.
  • Copy. Copy is the content of an article or news element. (Basically, it’s the words used to tell a story.)
  • Copy Editing. Copy editing is work done to improve the format, style, and accuracy of a story. Though copy editing can involve correcting grammar and spelling, the primary reason to copy edit a story is to improve its clarity and ensure it aligns with a yearbook’s style.
  • Dominant Element. A dominant element is the element on a page that immediately attracts a reader’s attention.
  • Drop Cap. Drop cap is a design treatment used to introduce copy. It is distinguishable by a large letter (usually capital) that appears at the beginning of a text block and has the depth of two or more lines of regular text.
  • Folio. Folio is page numbering that appears on the outside portion of pages, usually at the bottom. A folio may also contain the title of your yearbook or your section title.
  • Gutter. No, it’s not attached to your roof. And, no, you don’t have to keep your mind out of it. When it comes to yearbooks, a gutter is the space between two facing pages (an important place to keep clear, because, when a yearbook is bound, the space between the pages shrinks). It’s best to apply a 1/2 inch margin to both sides of the gutter, or 1 inch in total.
  • Headline. A headline is a line (or lines) of large type used to introduce the most important fact to the reader.
  • Kerning. Kerning is the space between two letters that are next to one another. You can adjust the kerning to avoid gaps in your text (for example: if character pairs are spaced too far apart).
  • Ladder. A ladder is a chart that represents the pages in a yearbook. It can be helpful when planning section placement and page content.
  • Layout. A layout is a design plan for a page or spread in a yearbook. It accounts for the size and position of all elements on a page.
  • Lead (or Lede). The lead is the introductory portion of a news story; usually the first sentence or paragraph. It relays to the reader the most essential information. In traditional journalism, it is spelled “lede.”
  • Leading. Leading is the space between lines of text. You can adjust the leading of a text block to increase its readability or to squeeze more text onto a page. (Rule of thumb: The more space there is between lines of text, the easier that text is to read.)
  • Modules. A module, also called a “mod,”  is, essentially, the yearbook equivalent of a sidebar. It is a smaller amount of text with accompanying photos that supports a page’s main story.
  • Portraits. Portraits are posed photographs of individuals. These photos are the photos that are usually being referred to when someone is talking about their “yearbook photo” or “school portrait.”
  • Proof. A proof is a copy of the yearbook’s final pages that are sent to the staff for a final review and approval.
  • Proofreading. Proofreading is used to catch any typos before sending a yearbook to print. It’s the last read of the yearbook and should be done on a printed proof.
  • Pull Quote. A pull quote is a phrase or quote pulled from a story and used as a graphic element. It highlights a key topic or point in a story and is usually placed in larger, more distinctive type.
  • Spread. A spread refers to two pages that face each other in a yearbook.
  • Theme. A yearbook theme is an idea or concept that’s used to tie together the various sections and stories found throughout the yearbook.
  • Template. A template is a predesigned layout that helps maintain visual consistency throughout a book. Different sections may have different templates.

Some More Yearbook Vocabulary For Overachievers

  • CMYK. CMYK is a color model traditionally used in printing. Printers use subtractive color, or CMYK, where cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks are applied to paper. The color of the inks is altered by subtracting (or absorbing) light wavelengths.
  • DPI. The abbreviation for dots per inch, DPI is a measurement of an image’s resolution. The higher the DPI of an image, the clearer and more detailed that image will print.
  • Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is a mathematical rule that’s used to repeatedly create visually pleasing designs. In yearbooks, you can use it to create different layouts, and it’s best to visualize the Golden Ratio as a rectangle with its length (side B) being roughly one and a half (1.618) times its width (side A).
  • Monospaced Fonts. Monospaced fonts are fonts that have equal width for each letter. They can be serifed or sans serifed.
  • Orphans. Orphans aren’t just in Annie or Charles Dickens’ books. In yearbook publishing, they’re also a word, part of a word, or a small line of text that falls at the end of a paragraph on a line by itself. These “hangers” (if you will) create unwanted white space and are distracting to readers.
  • Pica. A pica is a unit of measurement, often used to determine the width of an element on a yearbook page. It is equal to ⅙ inch (or 12 points).
  • Resolution. Resolution is the sharpness of an image. In print, resolution is measured in DPI. In digital, it is measured in pixels.
  • RGB. RGB is a color model traditionally used in digital publishing. Colors are created in the RGB color model by adding red, green, and blue pixels to a black base.
  • Rule of Thirds. The “rule of thirds” is a guideline in photography that encourages a photographer to move the primary subject of the photograph away from the center.
  • Sans Serif Fonts. Sans serif fonts lack the decorative elements found on serif fonts. They’re great for digital projects, since they are easy to read on computer screens, but are also very popular for printed headlines.
  • Serif Fonts. Serif fonts have small decorative elements (called serifs) at the end of letter strokes. These fonts are more legible at smaller sizes and are great to use in large bodies of text, like the body copy in your yearbook.
  • Style Guide. A style guide is a set of standards used to create consistency in your yearbook. Also known as a style sheet, it can be used for typographic, graphic design, and copywriting.
  • White Space. White space, also known as negative space, is the empty area around an object. White space can be used to draw the viewer into a particular spot in the design. It prevents content from overcrowding the page.
  • Widows. A widow is a word or line of text that sits alone at the start of a column or page. They’re similar to orphans in that they are distracting to readers.

Got ‘em?

Though it might seem like a waste to study these terms, we promise it’ll prove helpful in the long run. Just imagine how much more sense it will make to talk about finishing your “mod” (instead of “thingamajig”) or how you need to find someone to do “copy editing” (instead of “editing all this stuff”).

Test your new-found knowledge with our quiz.

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