Beauty is supposed to be subjective, but math has proven that you can inject beauty into anything by applying the golden ratio. A miracle of nature, you can use the golden ratio a bunch of different ways in your yearbook to guarantee a good-looking spread. By applying its principles to size, proportions, and organization, your yearbook layout will be sure to please.
The Golden Ratio Refresher Course
At its most basic core, the golden ratio is the comparison or combination of two objects where one component is 1.618 times longer than the other component. The reason this is so cool is that by using this multiplier, the sum of components is also 1.618 times longer than the larger of the two original segments. In the graphic below, you can see how the ratio between a and b is the same as the ratio between a+b and a.Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
We’ve gone in depth about the history of the golden ratio before. To summarize: once you start looking for it, the golden ratio is everywhere. It exists in the proportions of the human body and the pattern of how a flower grows. The ancient Greeks used it to build the Parthenon and the Egyptians leveraged it to build the pyramids. If you can work it into your yearbook, you will be using the same tool as Leonardo da Vinci, a confirmed master of design. There are several different ways you can use this tool in your yearbook. Let’s explore.
How to Use the Golden Ratio in Your Yearbook
What it is: When measuring two or more objects in a straight line, each item should be roughly 1.618 times longer than its predecessor.
Where it is: Your forearm is proportioned to be 1.618 times longer than your hand. Your fingers, broken down at the knuckle, are also proportioned in this way.
Yearbook Application: You can use this to break down the heights of modules on a page or to decide on a series of font sizes. Having your headline be 1.618 times larger than your subheading font size, for example, yields wonderfully pleasing proportions.
What it is: When creating a rectangle, one side is 1.618 times longer than the other.
Where it is: Playing cards and some smartphone screens are designed with this proportion.
Yearbook Application: When resizing images, you can create a golden rectangle by keeping one side 1.618 times longer than the other. For example, if you want an image that is 600 pixels tall, you can crop it to be 971 pixels wide. Below are two images of a camping trip, one is cropped to a square while the other is sized to match the golden ratio. Can you see how the crop with the golden ratio is more pleasing to the eye? When making a collage, you can also cluster a series of photos to create a golden rectangle — adding a little extra visual punch to a collection of images.
What it is: The golden spiral is what is created when a series of rectangles widens by a factor of 1.618 for every quarter turn it takes. You’ll also notice that the base objects are squares that follow the Fibonacci sequence. (That’s “1, 1, 2, 3, 5, eureka!” for all my Mathnet 80’s kids out there.)
Where it is: It is absolutely fascinating how often this appears in nature. The most obvious example is a spiral shell, but you’ll find this proportion playing out everywhere from the human ear to hurricane development.
Yearbook Application: You can use the golden spiral to add visual interest to each spread (this free tool should help). The “Around Campus” example shows how a visually pleasing layout can be created by leveraging the awesome magic of the golden spiral.
You can use the golden spiral to create templates or to fix pages that just aren’t working for you. Below are two yearbook spreads with identical themes and similar content. The spread on the left is the original concept. Overall, it feels a little busy and disorganized. If you take the content and arrange it following the golden spiral, you will have created a much more polished look, as seen in the spread on the right.
When we overlay the golden spiral on this spread, we see just how it fits. Notice how the sizing of the content consistently grows as your eye travels along the curve. The result is an aesthetically pleasing page.
Apply the Golden Ratio to Your Yearbook
It’s easy to see how this amazing ratio can benefit the design of your yearbook. If you want to give it a shot, we’ve made it easy with this free tool that you can download and use as an overlay when arranging yearbook spreads and images to follow the golden spiral. But whether spiral, rectangle, or line, just remember: 1.618 is the number to keep your yearbook golden.