When your students receive their yearbooks in the spring, chances are, the first thing they will do is flip through the pages to find photos and mentions of themselves. With that moment in mind, you’ll want to be sure they’ll find more than just their class portrait.
An index is an obvious solution.
Creating one at the last minute can be a time suck during a busy season, though, and waiting until the end will keep you from other duties. Instead, you can begin work on your index early by keeping track of student appearances before they even begin to grace the pages.
While good yearbook software will automatically create a student index for you, you can still do it the “old-fashioned” way. If you’re in that boat, here are some tips for how we like to stay ahead of the game, so we aren’t struggling to track down and squeeze in extra students at the last minute.
Advantages of Tracking Student Appearances
Before you invest a ton of time into tracking student appearances, get yourself psyched up with all the benefits you’ll reap:
- You will have the means to identify the kids that are flying under the radar and pluck them out of obscurity. Each month, you will be able to create a list of students to hit up for polls and stories.
- You can easily keep track of new students. Starting a new school is hard enough. Make new students feel welcome by jumping at the opportunity to include them in a yearbook spread.
- You will be able to create a “freeze list” of students that have too many appearances in the book. Keeping track of these kids will give the rest of the student body a shot at leaving their mark.
- Creating the index at the end of the year will be a snap now, because you’ve done all the legwork piece-by-piece throughout the year.
Start With a Spreadsheet
The first thing you need to do is build a spreadsheet with each of your students listed alphabetically in the first column of the sheet (we’ve actually made a template of this already for you–you can just click here). In the second column, list their year in school. The third column is for notes (activities, locations, clubs, etc.) and the subsequent columns are for mentions and photos within the yearbook. Keep this spreadsheet as a shared document (similar to your timeline tool–in fact, that’s exactly where we included ours). Whenever new photos are brought in, enter the filename into the first available “mention” field. When that image is finalized on a page, you can replace the filename with the page number.
With the endless capacity of digital photography, you might find it labor intensive to keep track of student appearances in every single one of your photos, especially since a lot of those might not make it into the book. You can trim a little bit of that labor by only including your final selections, tracking their appearance once an image has been added to the book. In this case, under the mentions you will only need to include the page number on which the student has provided a quote or been captured on film.
Getting the Most Out of Your Spreadsheet
Begin the year with a goal. It will depend on the size of your school, but set a number of appearances you want each student to have in the yearbook outside of their portrait page.
On the first Monday of each month, take the list and audit for which students you have not yet met the goal, and create a list. Distribute this list to your photographers and reporters. The goal, of course, is to have this list shrink each month. And that’ll happen, if you have your photographers target students who haven’t been captured enough.
You can use the “notes” column to fill in any tidbits that may contribute to snagging a photo or quote. For example, some students can be easily found hanging out in the library or will be very involved in an upcoming sport or activity.
You can also create a maximum mention cap for those students who will inevitably end up appearing far too much (this is one of those benefits we mentioned above). Putting students on a “freeze” can help open up the field for others. Some students are just involved in so many activities that their numbers will naturally surpass your quota, so you won’t want to reach out to them for candids or quotes. This process will help the staff reach outside of the obvious subjects and find a more diverse cross-section of the student body.
The last piece of maintenance to be done monthly is to check with the attendance office to see if any new students have enrolled within the last month. These students can easily be lost in the yearbook shuffle. But if you stay organized and add them to this master list, none of these students will fall off the radar on your watch.
Tracking All the Appearances
In order to make this system work for you, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
The most important thing is to get the names of your subjects as soon as you take a photo. Athletes make it easy for us with their jerseys and rosters; it’s the candids that need extra attention. Don’t trust yourself to remember the names, write them down as soon as the photo is taken, and keep them wherever the photo is stored.
As you move forward with your yearbook production, uploading content into your yearbook software, you will be able to tag photos as they’re added to pages and keep an automated count of student appearances. But if you wait until that moment to track appearances, you might find yourself in a bit of a last-minute scramble. The earlier you begin to organize your student appearances, the easier it will be to create an inclusive yearbook experience for all of your students. Imagine all the happy faces of students who will be able to flip to page whatever and see their face smiling back at them. All because of a little planning and yearbook organization.