Climbing the Yearbook Ladder

If you haven’t started working on your yearbook yet, you’re probably not alone. Just because over here we are in yearbook frenzy all year round doesn’t mean we expect everyone to be. Heck, you probably just finally got everyone’s name correctly matched with their face. So we figured now would be a good time to post about the beginning stages of organizing your yearbook. The Ladder Stage! We know, we know, it’s not NEARLY as exciting as picking candids or deciding on yearbook theme ideas. But it is an essential part of the yearbook creation process and will make your life a whole lot easier after it’s done.

The great thing about your Yearbook Ladder is it will help you determine how many pages to allocate to each specific activity and section (portraits, sports, organizations, academics, advertisements, student life, etc.). It will also help you organize the sequencing of sections to give a nice flow to your yearbook. Even better, it can be used as a checklist during the year to help track progress. So many functions. So helpful. So cool, right? (We’re trying here.)

To get started, whip out that Ladder Worksheet (need one? download one here) and determine the approximate number of pages you are going to need in your yearbook. Base this on the number of students and staff members you have, number of grades, extracurricular activities, special events and clubs or organizations, you will be including. It is helpful to know at this point what type of yearbook binding you will be doing. Most yearbook binding types work in increments of 4 pages, so if you aren’t sure that’s a good increment to stick with. If you know you are doing a Smyth-Sewn yearbook though, your page count should be divisible by 16. Also, keep in mind the inclusion of things like Division Pages that separate one section from the next, Current Events pages and Autograph pages when factoring your page count.

Oh! And we suggest using a pencil. One with a good eraser.

Okay, so you’ve got the page count determined (or at least a rough estimate), now what? Figuring out what will be on every page can be daunting. But alas! No more! That is what we’re here for! We’ll walk you through the “how to figure out what to include in my yearbook!?” question so you can keep some of that hair on your head.

Below is a list of yearbook content ideas to help you determine what sections to include in your yearbook. We gleaned from thousands of yearbooks to come up with this sample list so if it’s missing something or you have an awesome idea for a section…let us know! We’re sure other schools will appreciate your insight as well.

  • Title Page/Colophon
  • Table of Contents
  • Divider Pages
  • Letter from Principal
  • Opening Theme/Story
  • Portrait Pages - Staff Portraits - Student Portraits
  • Candid Pages
  • Student Life Pages
  • Sports Pages
  • Clubs/Organizations Pages
  • Events Pages
  • Advertisement Pages - Recognition Ads - Business Ads
  • Current Events Pages
  • Autograph Pages
  • Closing/Yearbook Editor Page
  • Index

So how many pages should you allocate for each section? That is completely up to you! And completely dependent on what you are including. But don't stress. You don't have to have that all set in stone right now. The same goes for the order of your sections. You can choose any order for the sections in your book. That’s part of the fun of making it unique! But it doesn't have to be concrete this early in the game. For now,  just focus on getting the sections determined and a rough estimate of pages allocated. You can always change the order and content later, even after the pages are already laid out.

Yearbook ideas are WONDERUL. We’re full of them. And we can’t wait to share more of them with you as the school year progresses. Hopefully you’ll share some with us as well!

It's Crunch Time!

For those of you that have a "spring delivery" book, it's officially crunch time. It's time to proof pages, make finishing touches and proof some more. Many publishing companies require early cover submission when you've chosen to design your own cover, commonly called a "custom cover". Check your submission dates and make sure you're design staff is on track with your cover design, final files and any other custom options you may have chosen. Often times, custom printed endsheets also require extra production time, and should be submitted with a custom cover. Once again, make sure you're sending all the necessary paperwork, digital files, and printouts your publisher needs to ensure that once your info is received, it's all smooth sailing for your project! Handing any part of your yearbook over to someone else for production can be nerve wracking...making doubly sure that all things are proofed thoroughly, filled out completely and submitted on time will save questions or miscommunications between you and your publisher.

Even though we're over halfway through January, we figured a checklist would still be helpful for those of you rushing around making sure everything is checked off your list!

Printable version here.

See that light over there? It's the end of the yearbook creation're almost there!

Happy Yearbooking!

The Idea Garden Team

Got It Covered | Exploring Options For Yearbook Covers

Your yearbook cover needs to "say it all" in one design statement. Your cover should motivate people to WANT to see what's inside. Whoever said you can't judge a book by it's cover, certainly couldn't have been talking about yearbooks! There are many options available to you when making decisions about yearbook covers. The most common is a four color printed cover.

If you'd like to add a little 'flair' to your four color cover, you can add some color foil and/or embossing.

Leatherette covers are often a more "traditional" look, but by using graphics that have a more modern edge, your cover can still be as unique as your student body!

If you really like bells and whistles, a leatherette cover with foil imprint and embossing may be just the cover for you.

Not all publishing companies offer all of the options mentioned above. When choosing who to print with, it's important to find out if they can provide your school with the options you'd like to see in a finished product. It's also important to find out if adding options to your cover will add cost or production time!

Speaking of's time for another checklist! December is right around the corner and we want to make sure our readers are staying on task!

Print friendly version here.

Stay warm and happy yearbooking!

The Idea Garden Team

New Season, New Challenges

Winter sports season is upon us, which means most yearbook photographers are finding just how tricky this season can be. Indoor sports photography is, even for professional photographers, a challenge. Gymnasium lighting is almost NEVER 'good' lighting for photography, and if you don't have a high power flash to work with your camera, stop-action shots with good color are difficult to capture. Let's go through a few tips to help you get the most out of your indoor sports photography assignments: 1 - Watch for action! Position yourself somewhere the shots are going to SHOW how action packed the game was. Don't be afraid! You aren't going to get the shots you want by sitting up in the bleachers, half a gymnasium away from the winning serve/basket/throw. Get down on those sidelines and shoot, shoot, shoot! If you're using a digital SLR, shoot even more! Without having to worry about the cost of film, you have nothing holding you back on that trigger!

2 - Set your camera to a high ISO. Almost all digital SLRs allow you to choose your ISO or "film speed". Setting this to a higher number (1000 or above) makes your camera more sensitive to the light available...however, remember that the higher your ISO, the more 'noise' or 'grain' you will see in your images. Keep in mind, you are not typically going to enlarge these images, so a little grain is okay.

3 - Shoot with a faster shutter speed. When trying to capture action, your shutter needs to be QUICK! The sharper your photo from the beginning, the easier it is to adjust later in post production. When dealing with a blurry image, there isn't much you can do to sharpen it up. We recommend trying to get your shutter speed to 150 or above for action shots.

4 - Use a lens with a low aperture. When dealing with limited available light, a wide aperture (low f-stop number) is going to help you out quite a bit. It's important to make sure your camera is focusing on the player or details you want sharp, because the lower the f-stop, the more shallow the depth of field will be for your camera. That's how images like the following one can show the action in the foreground without being distracted by the writing on the banner in the background.

5 - Shoot in RAW setting if you can. The likelihood that you will achieve great coloring in a gymnasium is slim. Gym lighting is notorious for tinting things green. If your camera has the capability to shoot in RAW, the files WILL be larger, but it will be easier to address color issues as well as some noise and lighting issues post production as opppsed to shooting a straight jpeg.

We hope that these tips are helpful and if some of the photography terms sound foreign, maybe this is a good time to get out there and learn a little more about your camera settings! Your yearbook photos will thank you for it!

Speaking of being thankful, it IS November...and you know what that means! Your next checklist for keeping your project on schedule!

Print friendly version here.

Stay organized and be inspired!

The Idea Garden Team

Spooked by Yearbook Organization?

Don't be! As promised, we have provided you with yet another handy dandy checklist to keep your yearbook project on track!

Here is the printer friendly version.

Be organized, stay on track, and, as always, be inspired! The Idea Garden Team