September 28, 2008 / Coverage / Fall 2008 / Five Simple Ideas

Five Simple Ideas for – A creative index

Written by Dow Tate

Yearbook staffs view the index like the mom with four children contemplates her youngest child’s baby book. Ideas for what to put in it are few, and time is limited. Because yearbook staffs wait until the last deadline to think about the index, the section is often only a boring gray list that students open simply to find their own names. But the index can be a section in itself, an archive with sidebars, group shots and group coverage. Assign a staff member to the index and let them use one of these five simple ideas to give it a little flair.

1. Give the reader current data for graduates to compare in 10 to 15 years, such as gas prices, new soft drinks or the price of a pair of jeans. VH1’s, “I Love the ’80s,” relived pop culture of the period, and the yearbook could follow that cue. Also consider sidebars of pro sports champions, Hollywood magazines and Academy Award winners.

2. Include group photos, placed alphabetically and organized within the layout so readers can easily follow the index text. Scoreboards and school records could be packaged with sports group images. Adding academic meet point totals for the Science Team or the regional golf meet results mean increasing the number of people in the yearbook. Sending these pages in on the last deadline could increase last-minute coverage in spring books.

3. Archive student creations. Students make so many items during the year — club T-shirts, student council election signs and happy birthday posters hung on lockers. Using them as visuals would preserve those high school expressions of that school year. These funny slogans and colorful, clever designs could stand alone with captions or accentuate sidebar information.

4. Make the section a reference for club and student awards. Scan in letter jacket patches. Photograph plaques. Use these in sidebars to accompany club award lists — the All-District jazz band members, the debate team honors and science fair winners. A Quiz Bowl team story in the clubs section should capture the heart of the year through scenes of frenzied late night cram sessions and three-hour bus rides to regional, but a compilation of state meet results gives the reader history that is otherwise often lost in boxes thrown in the attic.

5. Archive the classes’ statistics and school information. Some of this may be easy to gather from school officials. Just to get started, here’s a list of information to include: Who’s Who, Top 10 in each class, number of students in each class, school demographics, scholarship award winners or total scholarship amounts awarded.

While many yearbooks staffs see the index as a list, this section could give readers a more complete school history and archive that could be fun and useful in 20 years, when the mom with four children is lucky to remember if she closed the garage door when she left the house.

  • Bruce Wayne

    This relly helped me

  • blue vampire

    lovd these ideas… i’m sure that our class magazine is gonna be the best!!!!

Dow Tate

Dow Tate advises the yearbook, newspaper and news website at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas. He is co-author of Scholastic Journalism, 12th edition and his students’ publications are consistent winners of the NSPA Pacemaker and the CSPA Gold Crown. Dow is in the Scholastic Journalism Hall of Fame at the University of Oklahoma and has been named a Texas Legend, as one of the most influential people in the state’s scholastic journalism history. Tate was the 1997 Dow Jones News Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year and was chosen a JEA Distinguished Adviser in 2007.