Don't Know What to Include in a Yearbook? Start With This List

what to include in a yearbook

Dialing down what to include in a yearbook is much easier when you have a starting point. It will also help keep you from feeling flustered, frustrated, and forgetful. And that’s not a good look for anybody.

In this post, we’ll list everything you can put in your book. Consider it a ready-made starting point for you and your team.

You can use this list of typical yearbook sections, page and spread types, special features, photo types, and finishing touches to determine what will make the cut for your yearbook and to kickstart your brainstorming sessions about yearbook coverage and layout. Better yet, pair it with our yearbook ladder template, and create your entire plan of what’s going in your book and where it will go.

What to Include In a Yearbook: The Essentials

  • Portraits. Everyone flips to the portrait section of the yearbook to see themselves and their friends. You should include faculty, staff, and administration, too, and it’s always a great idea to give your graduating class the star treatment.
  • Student Life. This is the section that lets you capture the moments that stand out from the crowd. Think high school homecomings, elementary school Halloween parades, and middle school battles of the bands. Anything that involves your whole school is fair game.
  • Academics. Lots of fun things happen throughout the school year. But you know what else happens? A whole bunch of learning. Adding a section covering interesting electives, cool projects, and schoolwide accomplishments is definitely on trend.
  • Athletics. Vast sections of middle and high school yearbooks are devoted to sports. The coolest spreads we’ve seen included in these yearbooks have a magazine-like quality in their design. They give readers a fresh perspective on a particular sports season, covering pre-game rituals, pep talks, and celebrations.
  • Clubs. If student life, academics, and athletics paint a picture of what happened during the school year, your clubs section paints a picture of what motivated students. Include all clubs here to show the diversity of your school’s interests and accomplishments. (If you run a yearbook club, this is the perfect place to give those students some props.)
  • Ads. If you include ads from local businesses or proud parents, they deserve their own section. A nice section break before you turn the pages over to your sponsors should do the trick.

Five Page & Spread Types to Include in Your Yearbook

  • Collage. The most common way to fit many faces onto a page or into a spread, a photo collage is also the easiest to overdose on. You’ll want to avoid cramming too many photos on too many pages. Otherwise, you’ll never tell the story you intended. Prevent that by following these tips: Make sure each image is big enough so that everyone is easily identifiable. Use only the best photos. Complement portrait pages and recap events where you can’t spend the time it takes to tell a compelling story.
  • Photo Essay. A photo essay is much like a collage, but its goal is way more purposeful: To tell the story of a specific moment and evoke strong emotions from the viewer. Sometimes, they include captions or small blocks of explanatory text. Other times, they don’t. The one thing they always have, though, is fantastic photos.
  • Photos + Copy. High school yearbook programs have long used spreads to tell stories. The winning combo is usually something like this: one excellent image + lots of great photos + a short story on what happened = success. You can replicate this all day, and no one would tire of it.
  • Essay. Dedication pages, letters from principals, yearbook staff notes, etc., focus more on written words than images. And that can be a good thing. Including these essay pages can help you center your yearbook around a theme or a key message.
  • Section Dividers. The yearbook is similar to other books in one fundamental way: It needs to give a reader a heads-up when it ends one part of the story and starts another. Section dividers are perfect for saying, “Hey, the staff has finished covering academics. Now, it’s time to talk about athletics.” Plus, there are some seriously awesome design ideas for these page types.

Include These Seven Different Photo Types For Some Pop

  • Portraits. No, we’re not talking about those headshots your photographer comes to take. (Although these are necessary.) We’re talking about posed photos of one or two people that make you stop and go, “Whoa!” These are great for section divider pages, mods, and special features.
  • Groups. An essential photo type for fitting in more people with fewer photos, a good group shot can be the focal point of any page—just keep a few good poses in your back pocket.
  • Candids. Yearbooks require many photos, but you can only pose some. Always have a few stellar candids to build pages around. (Besides, these tell the real story.)
  • Scenic shots. There‘s someplace in your building that people instantly associate with your school. If you can capture that essence, you’re way ahead of the game when building a school-specific theme. These shots are great for covers, backgrounds, and special features.
  • Macros. Macro photography refers to close-up photography of small subjects. It’s also perfect for capturing intimate details of everyday objects and presenting them in a different way: think locks on lockers and coils on a notebook. These photos work well as background images or as part of a photo essay or collage page.
  • Baby Pictures. When you’re doing a dedicated section for your graduating class, baby pictures are a great way to show how much those students have changed. And if baby photos feel cliche, consider Kindergarten or freshman portraits.
  • Historical Photos. Though you may wonder what role historical photos have in your yearbook, they can offer a compelling look into how your school has changed over time. (Check out this unique gallery of mashed-up photos from past- and current-day Detroit.) Also, consider flipping the layering to use historical photos as the backdrop and new images as the focal point.

Five Special Features That Make Yearbooks Even More Lovable

  • Graduating Class Coverage. Whether you allow extra room for short bios and quotes in the portraits section or full-on dedication pages from parents, giving your graduating class special treatment is always appreciated. It makes the yearbook even more special to your graduating students – which is an easy way to build a strong yearbook culture.
  • Awards & Superlatives. Yearbooks often reserve awards and superlatives for seniors, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Superlatives can become places where students create awards for themselves, and“Most Likely To” distinctions can turn into “When I Grow Up” career predictions.
  • Principal’s Message. Schools that see their yearbook as a means of strengthening their community have their school’s leader write a message to set the tone. At the high school level, it’s often tied to the book’s theme. At the elementary school level, it’s often tied to a yearlong theme, mission statement, or yearbook cover.
  • Autographs. A place to let students gather signatures is always appreciated. The inside covers of the yearbook are as good a place as any, but an extra page or two can give students more room (and give you a break from trying to figure out what to do with any additional pages you forgot to plan out).
  • Year-in-Review. Year-in-review pages are trendy. They’re the quintessential set of pages that connect your school year to what happened in the outside world. Including them can remind students “what life was like” throughout the year. Nearly every yearbook company will give you templated year-in-review pages to use, but you’ll want to make them your own, too.

Four No-Brainer Finishing Touches To Include in Your Yearbook

  • Cover. You may not consider this a finishing touch, but your book needs it. It can be traditional or modern, school-specific or ready-made, but it needs to be there. Plan your cover early, so the designs of your interior pages and spreads can flow from there.
  • Folio. If you’ve never heard of a folio, it’s a fancy word for the page numbering that appears on the outside portion of pages, usually at the bottom. It can also contain the title of your yearbook and the title of the section that the page is in. How much detail you decide to add to your folio is up to you, but adding page numbers is a good place to start.
  • Table of Contents. Being lost in a yearbook is probably the best place to be lost, but, as a general rule, people don’t like feeling lost. Big books with big sections are big strains on little attention spans. If your readers may wonder where all the club coverage is, break it down for them.
  • Index. If you’re creating a more inclusive yearbook, you’re probably marking off how many times each student appears in the yearbook. And if you’re using excellent yearbook software (*cough* like Treering *cough*), you can quickly turn that list of appearances into an index. So why not include one? An index does more than help students find themselves; it also lets you add extra candid photos, package leftover content into mods, and even spotlight your staff.

So, that’s it. Twenty-seven ideas on what to include in your yearbook. In the immortal words of The Notorious B.I.G., “If you don’t know, now you know.”

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