Seven Yearbook Layout Design Elements to Never Overlook

yearbook layout elements you don't want to overlook

Good yearbook layouts do two things: they organize your stories and draw in your readers.

You could debate all day about which of those two things happens first, but we’re not going to do that. After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re designing a yearbook layout for an elementary, middle, or high school; your goal is likely the same: Put together a yearbook page that everyone wants to read.

Smile-inducing writing and stunning photos are essential, but any well-directed, passionate staff can administer surveys and snap pictures. Design is more elusive.

But there is a way to make sure you create a good yearbook layout. And this is it: Know each element in the layout, the role it plays, and what you can do to make it awesome.

Inside this blog post, we’ll walk you through the seven elements of yearbook layouts that you don’t want to overlook, explain why they’re important, and show you examples of each element in action.

A good yearbook layout is the sum of its part, but it’s also a matter of finesse and hawk-like attention to detail. So, stay focused. And read on.

But First… Organize Your Yearbook Page Materials

You’ve got pages upon pages of notes and folders full of photos, but now you’re facing the task of turning that stack into something cohesive. It’s a problem faced by every yearbook adviser. Ever.

Endless blocks of text might be enjoyable for the handful of people who love cracking open a good tome on a Friday night, but it’s also a no-go for those who don’t like to start their weekends with a Infinite Jest. On the other end of the spectrum, a glorified photo album leaves you without the ability to share the stories behind the photos, meaning you’re making your readers work harder to figure out what, exactly, is going on.

What you need, good friend, is to strike a delicate balance through the power of organization.

And you can do that by using the inverted pyramid.

The inverted pyramid is a long-used tool that forces writers to present the most important information first, but it can also be used to help organize your team before they start designing their yearbook layouts.

It looks like this:

inverted pyramid

It’s a pretty simple structure, but it works like a charm. Every time.

Encourage your team to use this approach, because it’ll streamline the stories you tell on your yearbook pages and eliminate multiple (and sometimes conflicting) storylines. , and generally help you make your layouts a little more fantastic.

Speaking of fantastic layouts…

The Seven Elements of Yearbook Layouts

Here’s one right now:

7 elements of yearbook layouts

What you’re looking at here is an example page from one of our yearbook themes.

We chose it, because we think it illustrates the organizational balance of the inverted pyramid and it contains all seven elements of a sweet yearbook layout. (Andddd… it’s pretty snazzy looking, if you ask us.)

Without balance, your yearbook layouts run the risk of being a jumble of pictures and words. That’s not something you—or your readers—want. In fact, readers need a scaffolding of pleasing color schemes, great photos, coherent design, and ease of readability. It makes it easier for them to get through a page. And helping them do that should be your goal.

Here, then, are the seven elements of a yearbook layout that you need to master:

The Primary Headline.

headline highlight

The biggest, boldest words on each page, the primary headline needs to pop. Pair a readable font with powerful, descriptive language and relay the key elements of your coverage. But keep it concise. You’ve got plenty of room to elaborate…

The Sub-Heads.

subhead highlight

Secondary headlines can add context to a big idea, and help readers quickly digest information. They also allow readers to scan a page without feeling lost. Don’t overdo it, though: you want to give use subheads where additional context or scanning queues are needed, but you still want readers to dive into the meat of the layout.

The Dominant Photo.

photo highlight

Think of your dominant photo as your visual headline. It should stand out, tell a story on its own, and propel the reader to want to learn more. Additional photos on the page should complement this photo and build off it.

captions highlight

There’s always more to say, right? Great yearbook captions are worth their weight in gold, because they inform and entertain readers while adding additional details to the layout’s story.

The Narrative.

narrative highlight

Regardless of its form (think traditional journalism stories, interview Q&As, and polling results), the narratives in your yearbook layouts are the meat and potatoes of your page. They may not be the first things that readers see, but they provide key details that aren’t found in the other elements listed above. Included here, are sidebars and mods that can help add boost your layouts, highlight more students in the yearbook, and tell more of your school’s story.

The Folio.

folio highlight

Don’t spend all those hours making the perfect layout just to overlook the page numbers. Nothing is worse than flipping through a book without ‘em. After all, readers want to know where they’re at in a book, and where to go to find pages they seek in the index. Your folio, which continues page numbers and, usually section titles, is a total necessity. Make sure to plan the room for it.

The Typeface.

Using fancy fonts can be a really tempting way to spruce up your pages, but don’t fall for it. Let your layout speak for itself without the bells and whistles. Good, clean yearbook fonts are the key to a strong design. In fact, having a strong font game can mean your text can become part of your design. Check out our example layout above for proof of that.

Look back at the example layout and you’ll see each of these in action. Notice how your eye moves around the page with minimal confusion? That’s exactly what you want to achieve with your yearbook layouts.

The perfect set of yearbook layouts can elevate your coverage and make your yearbook a collection of moments and memories for students to reflect on and discuss. Go with average page designs, though, and kids’ll be finished reading the yearbook quicker than they were Pokemon Go.

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