Seven Editorial Mistakes to Avoid in Your Yearbook

Yearbooks are an exciting representation of the year, the students, and the school overall. The creation of this artful token takes a lot of work, and a certain amount of dedication. In order to make the best book possible, the yearbook committee be comprised of those full of school spirit, an inclination for nostalgia, and an eye for catching mistakes. That’s right, even in a book that solely consists of gathering awesome memorabilia, you have to be on the lookout for errors.

With many different collaborators, there are bound to be editorial mistakes in the yearbook writing.

And no, I don’t mean that group shot they slipped in, taken before you had your braces removed, even though you told them to leave it out. I’m talking about editorial mistakes. If you’re on the committee, you may have thought you side-stepped this problem by only having the chosen few write the yearbook content. However, even the strongest, most eloquent yearbook writers can produce copy with errors here and there.

Here are seven common editorial mistakes seen in school yearbooks. To keep them our of your yearbook, keep this list handy when it’s time to proofread the yearbook.

Use a thesaurus to combat repeat or boring words.

  • Repeating Words: Writers, even the great ones, sometimes get stuck in their work. Their subconscious solution? To lean on a crutch word or phrase. But there are only so many times a writer can use the same word before people start to notice. As students are excitingly flipping yearbook pages, they shouldn’t see you constantly using the same descriptive words – like how “awesome” the soccer team’s season was, the “awesomely vintage” collection in fashion club, the “a-w-e-, s-o-m-e, awesome, awesome to-ta-lly” cheers of the pep squad. So change it up! If you find yourself using the same words and phrases over and over and over and over again, consult your thesaurus. There are some great keywords you may not always think of that will serve as even better replacements.
  • Inconsistency: When it comes to formatting and spelling, make sure you keep everything consistent. Don’t use “email” on one page and “e-mail” on the next page. Choose one or the other and use only that. The same goes for other things like a.m. versus AM and phone numbers, like those on the senior pages – choose (555) 155-5555 or 555-155-5555. There will be different writers contributing to the yearbook, so keep an eye out for these subtle differences. It looks sloppy and unprofessional not to keep everything consistent.
  • Numbers: One through nine should always be spelled out, but when you get to 10 and above, you can write it in numerical form. If you are using percentages, write the number and %. (However, if you’re writing “percent” by itself, don’t use the symbol.)
  • Adjectives and Adverbs: Keep your descriptive words straight. Remember that adjectives describe nouns while adverbs describe verbs. Confusing the two can result in confusion for your reader, as well. Describing the way the baseball player hit the ball? Use an adverb. Describing the player himself? Use an adjective.
  • Lists: If you’re explaining what a person’s actions were, or describing their qualities, don’t let the list go on and on. “He struggled to pickup all of the basketballs, baseballs, tennis rackets, ping-pong paddles, pompoms, hockey pucks, helmets, and gloves.” We get it; there was a lot of to pick up. Try to limit any lists to a few choice items, or group them together in a relatable category so that readers don’t lose track, or even worse, lose interest.
  • Italicizing: Titles of movies, books, publications, and other freestanding works are to be italicized – a la The New York Times. The often-made mistake is using quotes or underlining. However, chapters and magazine articles, like “Parents Rally Against School Bullying,” should be in quotes.
  • Commas: In the world of commas, there are those that don’t at all, and those that do too much (I’m inclined to be the latter). Find a happy medium – use commas only when necessary and use them correctly. Use commas to separate items in a series: “He hit the ball, passed first base, and stole second.”  Use commas with coordinating conjunctions. Use commas to set off introductory elements: “Sprinting to first base, he suddenly realized he was still carrying the bat.”

Now that you are equipped with some of the most common editorial mistakes,  you can ready yourself when it comes time for proofing. Make sure your writing team is aware of all of these potential slip-ups so they can avoid them in the first place. Then you’re one step closer to releasing your perfect yearbook!

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