Determine Your Yearbook Sections: Get Your Content Organized Before School Starts



It’s almost August, and that means it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming school year–including for your yearbook, where you’ll need to start planning out what you’ll include on the pages of your book. Then you can start getting your top tasks in order, which will help your committee stay organized in the fall. While this might sound like a ton of prep work, remember that everything you do now will make the projects you tackle with your committee during the school year go much smoother. That means you’ll need less time for yearbook prep–and be much less stressed–when the first few weeks of the school year roll around. And with a little help from your favorite TreeRing expert, you’ll have your projects laid out and organized, and be back to summer fun before you even know it!

Identify Your Features

To start, lay out the major features and articles you want to cover throughout the year. This doesn’t need to be a detailed account of what you’ll include, just a basic list of your sections, and the major features you absolutely must include in your content. You can begin by using last year’s yearbook as an example. Go through and make a list of the sections you definitely want to include in this year’s publication. This will make up about 90% of the features you include in next year’s book. And for that remaining 10%? Well, that can be brainstormed with your committee once everything starts, and can be solidified as events and unexpected stories arise during the school year. This process helps ensure that none of the basics fall through the cracks once you get started on all the exciting special features. It also helps you dole out tasks to your committee from day one, ensuring all the big pieces get apportioned fairly.

Organize Your Thoughts

Now that you have this list, you need to find a way to get–and keep–your yearbook sections super organized from the first day of the school year. As I often recommend, a Google spreadsheet can be the perfect way to do this. Not only is it easy to access on the go, but you can share it with your committee without constantly sending files back and forth, keeping everyone on your team in the loop with content ideas, next steps, and a reminder of who’s tackling each project. To start, just create a tiered document (or use ours as a template) to track your ideas for each of your yearbook sections. Columns for the article status, deadline, and who is responsible for the content will help keep you organized once the season kicks off. Remember, you don’t have to fill in each of the columns now. This spreadsheet simply creates an organized direction for your content that you can work from in the fall.

This tab may look very similar to your master calendar, and feel a bit redundant. But it serves an important purpose–by grouping articles by topic, rather than timeline, you’re providing yourself with an overview of all your content, in similar sections. You can see the status of all class pages, all sports pages…and make sure nothing gets left out (a friend of mine has their Speech and Debate team completely left out of their published, finalized yearbook this year–an oversight that could have been caught with a spreadsheet like this!).

Prioritize Your Yearbook Sections

Next, prioritize what needs to happen first. To make this simple, there’s a column in your content spreadsheet that lists out due dates for each of your features. This will give you an idea of what needs to be completed immediately. As you identify due dates, add each piece of content to your master calendar. As you complete each feature, make sure you highlight it, or make it glaringly obvious what’s been completed and what still needs work (A ‘red-yellow-green’ color-coding system might help, as might strikethrough). This will ensure that articles don’t slip through the cracks, leaving you in a rush to complete them just before each deadline. And if you don’t have due dates for all of your features, don’t fret: you can always fill them in once the school year starts!

Prep Now for an Easy School Year

While summer is a time for teachers to take a break and relax, you can make your school year go much more smoothly when you do a little prep work for your yearbook process in advance. A few hours of your time now can help you get in the right mindset, and also create motivation for your committee from the moment you step back in the classroom. And that will definitely translate to a more organized process for your content, and more inspired articles for the pages of your book.