5 Tips to Help You Find Your Yearbook Theme

Whether you’re scrambling at the end of the year, or trying to decide at the beginning of the year, coming up with a yearbook theme is tough. How do you come up with the title of a book that hasn’t been written? You can play it safe and gather everyone’s feedback to eventually land on a yearbook theme that everyone hates the least, or you can choose for the group, and face criticism–but no help–for your idea. Let’s be real, neither option sounds fun.

I interviewed different yearbook editors to try and gather some advice to help you get started. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself, and 5 thought-provoking theme ideas to inspire creativity. 

Why Should You Run a Yearbook Cover Contest?

Academic goals are of course the primary focus at school, but consider asking the students to layout SMART (specific, measurable, action, reasonable, time) goals at the beginning of the year. Come the end of the year they can go through a self evaluation that will lend itself nicely to the story of your yearbook. Goals could be long or short term. I remember having goals to read a certain number of books throughout the school year as well as trying to make it through a day without doodling on my hands/arms/legs.

What’s popular with your students this year? 

From movies to music, snacks to snapchat, pop-culture can be a great way to get some inspiration for your theme. The benefit to using a theme centered on pop culture is it adds an extra layer of nostalgia beyond your photo and story memories. The down-side, well as a child of the ‘80’s I can honestly say the photo of me with 5 foot tall bangs and fanny pack was embarrassing enough, not sure I need to be reminded of the countless hours lost to New Kids and Nintendo.

How are your student’s different from others? 

This might seem like a difficult question, but ask your students. They will typically know what makes their school “better” than the rival neighboring school. Growing up most of my classmates lived on a lake, because of this we were all about the water sports. We knew how to waterski off the dock, build pyramids, and wakeboard. We would have loved to see this represented in the theme of our yearbook, as it was unique to our school. You don’t need to limit yourself by the schools colors, the yearbook should tell the story of one moment in time and school colors are not unique to one year.

What issues are student’s passionate about? 

Pop culture changes year-over-year and with that children become passionate about different issues facing the world today. Similar to Michael Jackson and Free Willy raising awareness on preserving and protecting the ocean and its inhabitants, today children are talking about climate change and fact checking. Lucky for them they will never understand the frustrations of the card catalog now that Alexa can answer just about all their questions. Consider what issues students are talking about in class and how they are learning to make a positive impact in our future.

Who are your student’s role models? 

You might be surprised; kids today are #woke. Gone are the days where Micheal Jordan and Madonna served as the role models of youth. Kids today are looking up to people like Elon Musk and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. They are not just aware of what’s happening in the world, but they are choosing their role models wisely.

Now that you’ve asked yourself a few questions, I thought I’d share some brand new themes that might get you on the road to something truly unique for your yearbook. Below are 5 fresh themes for you to consider for your tribe.


This theme captures the spirit of imagination, similar to Harold and his purple crayon, each student has the ability to draw whatever they might need, leaving their unique handprints behind as a reminder of what they have achieved.  


Early learning experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are critical in preparing elementary school students for STEM learning in middle and high school, as well as for future careers in STEM-related fields. This theme talks to more than just the tech culture our children live in, but how schools are more focused now than ever in bringing STEM to the forefront of learning.


With multiple different color options, this is a classic, bold, choice for a yearbook tribe wanting to add some graphic texture to their book.  It’s sentimental in begging the question, “What does the school care about for the year?” There are many ways to play with this theme. Consider some wordplay: 

  • Y[our] goals
  • Enc[our]agement
  • N[our]ishment
  • Study h[our]
  • Y[our] story

Color Splash

It’s subtle yet elegant in the movement of the dots first flowing together then breaking off to find their own individual path, but not before first making a splash. This yearbook theme would be best for books that are text heavy, given the words will pop on the purple background, and there isn’t a lot of distracting artwork. 


The applications of this theme reach to infinity and beyond. From the single star that shines bright to the entire constellation of stars, our students are pushing the boundaries of learning to their outer limits.

Each yearbook tells the story of just one year, whether your theme is how power corrupts, as in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or love and loss as in Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, (I genuinely hope those aren’t actually your themes) these ideas should help you get started. If you are looking for more inspiration, check out this handy theme generator, it might get you and your yearbook tribe a bit further on your journey. 

More Design

yearbook student sketching potential modules for th academics and sports sections Design
What is Modular Yearbook Design?
Read Article
Board game pathway to illustrate the yearbook journey Design
10 Reasons We're Excited About TRL
Read Article
Comparison of popular san serif (Arial, DM Sans, Helvetics), serif fonts (Times New Roman, Garamond, and Courier) with OpenDyslexic Design
Making Yearbooks More Accessible with OpenDyslexic
Read Article
Trophy graphic to denote winner of social media voting Design
Winners of the 2023 Custom Pages Contest
Read Article