While a fun theme, memorable photos, and great content are crucial when creating a well-loved yearbook, good graphic design and solid page layouts are the glue that holds the many components of the book together. Last week we concentrated on how to find inspirations for the design of your yearbook – where to seek inspiration, how to target your audience, and what to do… and not do. In this week’s Part II, we’ll explore how to compose quality designs and page layouts.
A page layout is the process of placing and arranging photos, text, graphics, and titles on a page. A good layout is pleasing to the eye, easy to move around, and conveys what the images and text are trying to say in an effective way. Arranging and rearranging these components takes a tremendous amount of work and attention to detail. This will have to be done, and done well, for every single page of the yearbook.
COMPOSING PAGE LAYOUTS
- Remember the message: It can be fun to explore with different graphics, but don’t lose track of the yearbook’s message. Keep in mind the book’s theme, and what is important to your target audience. Bring that message to each and every page, and don’t get distracted by unrelated ideas.
- Use a grid: Place all text, photos, and graphics on the page so that they are connected not only through the message, but also visually. This can be achieved by simply aligning them vertically or horizontally on the edge of the page, or in the center. Use a grid on your computer (or make one by hand!) to visualize your placement.
- Maintain balance: Don’t make pages all one thing or all another. If you are going to incorporate photos and text, for example, maintain a visual balance between the two. You don’t want one tiny image surrounded by columns of impenetrable text, for example.
- Keep hands in mind: The power of margins! When laying out a page, keep in mind where people will be holding the yearbook, and try to keep important content out of those areas.
- White space isn’t a bad thing: For this reason, don’t have every square inch of the page covered. Give the photos and content room to breathe. Start by keeping white space around the edges in the margins, and then keep an eye out for other places that could use a little breathing room.
- Stretching is only for exercise: There are people that study fonts and typefaces for years before getting them perfect and figuring out what works and why. However, one major tip is to never stretch or skew fonts. If you are looking for a font to change shape – be taller or thinner, for example – look for a different version of that font, rather than moving the arrows to the desired height or width. Stretched fonts are very noticeable and the first sign of poor amateur design.
- Don’t overwhelm: Don’t use too many fonts and colors per page, or per section. If you’re trying to get funky with different fonts, capitalizations, etc. that is fine, but remember to keep it consistent, and proportional to the page. You don’t want to visually overwhelm readers with too many design elements in a small space.
- Size matters: Use larger graphics or titles to communicate the most important goals of the page. It’s where the reader’s eyes will be drawn automatically.
- Keep it simple: With every design choice you make, ask yourself why you’re choosing that and if the reason is strong enough to include that design element. Don’t add zig-zag lines just for something “pretty” to look at. Keep it limited to a few select fonts, and use as few lines, shapes, and colors as possible.
The more you know about page layouts, the more creatively they can be designed, the more effectively they will communicate your message, and the better your yearbook will come out. So study up and happy yearbooking!