Tips for Designing an Attention-Grabbing Yearbook Cover

Yearbook covers over the years on display
Photo credit: Flickr CC user: Skokie Public Library

Everyone knows the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” And while some people might agree with the sentiment, many people (including myself) do judge a book by its cover.

Many people also know the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” which is very true when it comes to a book cover. When done right, a book cover can entice someone to stop, walk over, grab it, and open it up. When done poorly, it can cause someone to breeze right past it and go for a shinier, more interesting option. The cover is the gateway into the story – a porthole into another world, and one of the reasons people pick it up in the first place.

Your yearbook cover is just like those books on display at the store, but with one big difference – unlike trendy paperbacks or textbooks, people tend to keep their yearbooks as a memento for their entire lives. No wonder you want the cover to be memorable – it’s going to be on lots of people’s shelves for decades to come! As a committee, you have to figure out what you want the cover to portray: do you want it to exude school colors and pride or do you want to take a more out-of-the-box approach? Do you want to keep the images clean and simple or have the cover burst with color? The yearbook is an extension of your school’s personality, so you need to decide: how do you want to show yours?

When it’s time to design your school’s yearbook cover, keep some things in mind:

1) Do you want to keep it traditional?

Some schools encourage that the yearbook cover reflects their colors, mascots, and symbols. For example, if your school colors are green and yellow, you have to incorporate them into the design. As a yearbook committee, you need to brainstorm if you want to stick with traditional elements or branch out. Talk to school officials and ask them what their ideal cover looks like. Look through old yearbook archives in your school’s library and draw inspiration from students who have designed the book before you. There are so many ways you can tie in traditional themes with a modern spin.

2) Or do you want to change it up?

Maybe you’re ready to start new traditions with this year’s yearbook cover. Perhaps you want to use a photo collage instead of an illustration of the mascot in the school colors, or perhaps you want a striking black-and-white cover that feels modern and clean. Utilize your Twitter account and ask the students what they think about it, as well, and get opinions on what they would want in a cover. Students may have new ideas that you’ve never thought of!

3) Do you want to include students in the design process?

A cool way to see the school through the students eyes is to encourage them to participate in the design process. This could include having a yearbook cover design contest where students can enter their work. You can give them a prompt like, “What does Hope High mean to you?” or “If our halls could talk, how would these halls show school spirit?” and give them a deadline. A panel of teacher and administrative judges can pick the winning entry. Runners-up can be featured on the web page or in a spread inside the published yearbook.

4) Do you want to create a yearbook cover that will have people talking?

The answer here is: Duh! You want people to be excited when they see the cover for the first time. You want them to be proud to own it and share it with people, and you want them to think it rocks!

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