Schools publish yearbooks to build community and preserve memories, and a digital yearbook is the best way to ensure everyone gets a copy — one that never gets lost. Read our in-depth guide on what should be included in a yearbook here.
First, it’s important to give readers more than pictures of students. They want the stories, events, and highlights that made the year memorable. Because digital yearbooks enable you to add interactivity that engages readers, they create more vivid memories than printed products. Learn more about how digital content has effectively fostered tight-knit student and educational communities here.
While there are variations in style, most yearbooks consist of these core sections:
Table of Contents
These sections are like buckets that need filling. But, before you fill them, you need to determine your theme for the year. Themes can be based on something relevant to the school year or on a specific message the principal and staff want to share.
For example, a theme can be based on a benchmark year, such as the school’s anniversary. It can also be based on a first-time event, like the school’s first year with a new addition or added learning program. Other themes include state championships, awards for academic excellence, or how the school handled a challenge like COVID-19. The important thing is to be authentic and timeless.
Once you have nailed down a theme, you can use it to develop the stories and pictures that will add excitement and interest to your yearbook. Everything should support your theme, including your yearbook design ideas. Kyiv International School published a digital yearbook on Issuu with the theme of keeping its global community connected during a time of crisis. What could be more important than that? Read more about their story here, and see a preview of their yearbook with student information omitted.
The visual appearance of your yearbook is important. It should support and communicate the theme and help readers easily navigate from section to section. You can design your yearbook using several platforms, including Canva, which offers many yearbook spread ideas, and Adobe InDesign. Once your design is finished, you can upload it directly to Issuu through our Canva and InDesign integrations to automatically transform your creation into a page-turning digital yearbook with many interactive components. Let’s look at three design elements that can make your book a memorable experience for faculty, staff, and interested readers.
Designing Your Yearbook Cover
You want a strong cover that makes recipients eager to buy a copy of the yearbook and look inside. The cover often supports your yearbook theme but can also be a strong message on its own. Think of a good title and include visuals that support it.
Regardless of what message you have on the cover, it should utilize some of the basic elements of good design, which include lines, shapes, texture, form, space, color, and value.
Designing a good cover starts with deciding what is most important and making it the dominant element on the page. The next important feature should be a bit smaller and the third smaller than that. Clear hierarchy is important; your design should move the reader’s eye from one element to another in a sequence that communicates the idea. Elements should also have some proximity to each other. In other words, the title and tag line should be close enough for the reader to recognize their relationship. Once you have your cover designed, the next important section is your Table of Contents (TOC).
Creating a Table of Contents
Here is where your digital yearbook really shines digitally. Once you have designed the TOC, you can link the contents to the section or chapter pages, allowing the reader to click on the section they want to see and navigate to it immediately. This makes it easy to locate the information readers want to access and is a real advantage over printed books.
You should also make the TOC easy to read. Use contrast to make chapter headings stand out by mixing bold and lighter-weight fonts. Use only one or possibly two font families at most, and make the TOC title large but not too overpowering. You can add some graphic elements, but don’t overdo it. You want your readers to easily absorb the information.
Yearbook Page Template Design
Canva offers free templates you can use as a base for your yearbook layout, but if you prefer, you can create your own templates. Using a template keeps your pages unified and helps readers easily understand your book. Be sure to use good design principles and create a solid grid.
To create a yearbook grid, begin with what designers call the eye line, which is a horizontal line that divides the top of the page from the bottom of the page. Generally, you want to leave more room at the top. Here, the Rule of Thirds can be helpful, allowing the bottom portion to take up about a third of the page.
Another trick is to keep white or negative space on the outside, which will keep the eye focused on the center of the page. Also, when laying out your images or your videos, be sure they lead the reader toward the center rather than the outside of the page.
Sections to Include
All yearbooks have at least four sections. While some editors will add more, these four are the foundation of any great yearbook. They include:
1. Student Life
Here is where you show images and videos of students in the classroom, eating lunch in the cafeteria, socializing in the halls, and transitioning to their next class. Students will eagerly be scanning these pages for photos and moments they may have forgotten about over the course of the school year. With so many images to share, it’s fun (and practical) to use collage styling in this part of the book. You can also create a great composite video with music that everyone will enjoy.
Think drama. Athletics is where a school wins or loses every game they play. Emotions are high, and sometimes the stakes are even higher. A school’s honor can hang on every forward pass, with its pride on every stolen base. Here, you have the opportunity to tell a real story. Embedded videos can play a major role on key pages within this section. Use your still images to preview the excitement of your videos and add a narrative to complete the story.
There are literary clubs, math clubs, chess clubs, and even volunteer clubs that help the community. These images are usually reserved for group shots of club members, but you can add more interest by creating a video of members introducing themselves or doing something related to the club’s activity. Share the outcomes and impact made by each club.
As with clubs, students participating in extracurricular activities, such as the school newspaper or student government, also deserve some recognition. Again, this is a great opportunity for not only videos but also web links to the program brochures, blog posts, social media groups, or other online information. Highlight exciting moments from study abroad programs, the success of peer tutoring, or the themed celebrations of foreign languages.
Types of Pages
Each of the above sections in your digital yearbook should be filled with pages similar to the following:
Student Photos With Spaces for Quotes
Photos of students engaged in school activities, along with some text, help tell the story of the school year and are popular with readers. Pull-out quotes grab attention and add flair to your yearbook design.
Facts Page About the School
Sometimes, facts about the school can be a stand-alone section. Otherwise, you can incorporate them throughout the book. Consider graphs or other graphic elements to help illustrate some of the data.
These pages engage readers because they include a variety of images that attract attention. However, be careful not to have too many pictures (making it hard to see), and vary the picture sizes to keep it visually interesting.
Letters From Teachers, Principals, and Staff
Here, you can deviate from the overall style of the book and page templates somewhat. Remember, don’t get too fancy or crazy! Keep things easy to read, but make these pages look more personal and friendly. Sometimes, letters from faculty and staff can be added to one or two sections or exist as a stand-alone section.
As a digital product, your yearbook can feature plenty of interactive elements. Let’s look at a few of the elements made available when you create digital yearbooks and publish them on Issuu.
Add Videos and Links
The beauty of a digital yearbook is the ability to include embedded videos, ones that display in specific sections of a page or take up an entire page, to add motion and excitement. You can also include web links and shopping links to direct readers to parts of your school’s website or spirit store. These elements make information more accessible.
Create animated GIFs to include in email blasts and social posts to students, parents, staff, etc., teasing the sale and release of your digital yearbook. In addition, with Issuu premium, members can link the GIF to a fullscreen version of the yearbook, which can dramatically increase reader interest and engagement by removing all distractions. Fullscreen sharing simply delivers a better viewing experience.
Embed Your Yearbook on Your School’s Website
Because your book is digital, you can easily embed it on your school website, where the entire school and students, both past and present, can access it. If your school has an alumni association or accepts donations, having the yearbook on your website can double as a potential fundraiser or PR tool.
Issuu’s built-in Digital Sales feature makes it easy to sell your yearbook online just like you did with printed books in years past. This feature is available with a Premium or Optimum plan and allows your school to keep all of the profits, as Issuu never takes a commission. Set up a captivating preview, giving parents and students a sneak peek, and then invite recipients to purchase your pay-wall-protected yearbook to unlock the full publication.
To utilize Digital Sales, simply enable the feature on your desired yearbook, and let Issuu take care of the rest. Transactions are processed through Stripe, all completely within the Issuu platform.
Creating Throughout the Year
One area that is not often considered is the potential to expand your yearbook team. It is important for editors to be able to collaborate digitally with other members of the school who can contribute stories, pictures, and ideas. With the ability to add multiple users and continue creating and perfecting your yearbook throughout the entire school year, the end result is sure to be amazing.
Issuu is a user-friendly platform that anyone can navigate, providing a quick way to turn your flat yearbook into an interactive digital product that people will enjoy reading for years to come.