Photo by: Summer Porter

A Folder System that Works: Tips for Staff Organization

Written by Danielle Finch

Who doesn’t love a good folder hack? Utilizing a folder system for your staff to keep important documents will provide you and your team with a one-stop-shop for all things yearbook. Here are some essentials you need to consider for your staff folders.

Folder Types

Folders with pockets are ideal for this system since you will be storing sticky notes and other smaller materials inside. Two-pocket folders like these on Amazon are ideal. Be sure to ask your teacher friends if they have any to spare before you go on a shopping spree.


Style Guide

No matter how big or small your staff may be, a style guide is a requirement for a cohesive yearbook. Style guides can be as broad or specific as you like, but the key elements to have in your guide include but are not limited to:

        • Color palette
        • Graphic elements
        • Fonts
        • Theme phrasing
        • AP Style standards

Having a physical copy for each staff member to flip through as they create and edit can minimize errors and maximize succinct theme development.

The ABCD’s of Captions

Even after reviewing and reviewing, students can mix up the structure of captions. Having an index card that labels the ABCD’s of caption writing (Attention-Getter, Basic Info, Complimentary Info, Direct Quote) is a tool students will reference time and time again when writing captions. You can tape it to the inner folder pocket to make sure it’s visible every time they open their folder.


Many times, students will sit and stare at the white spread of doom, defeated by the emptiness. Having inspiration to refer to is a great way to reignite their creativity and get them experimenting with layouts that fit your theme composition. Each week you can show some great examples of spreads and print them in color for your staff to keep in their folder.

Student Lists

By the middle of the year, you and your staff can begin to see the trends of John’s and Jane’s that keep reappearing on all your spreads. Take the time to evaluate your student coverage to get each staff member a list of students who do not have coverage. This list is great to keep in their folder, so they keep them in mind for modular packages and pull quotes.

Interview Questions

Having some go-to questions for students to use during interviews is a valuable resource to keep in their folder. Cut them out on an index card so students can easily grab it when they are on the go. Referring to these questions can prevent the sound of crickets during an interview.

Sticky Notes

Sometimes students need a pick-me-up during deadlines and stressful times of the year. Keep some sticky notes in each folder and encourage them to write positive messages at their desk. Who knows, maybe you will get one too!


Everyone loves a good checklist. Staffs can benefit from having checklists for copy, design, photography and overall spread completion. Having a laminated checklist for tasks is a great way to re-use your checklists for each deadline. Access our Yearbook Suite curriculum to see some examples of checklists you can print for your staff.

Make it Fun

At the very beginning of the year, pass out your folders and have your staff have a design contest for the best look. Allow them to make it their own so they are less likely to lose it. You can also keep their folders at their stations, so they never end up in the wrong place.

The key to this folder system is to be consistent. Use them as much as you can those first five minutes of class to review the style guide and any checklists students should be referring to. The more you use them with the class, the more likely they will form that habit, too. Happy folder-making!

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Danielle Finch

Danielle Finch is a former journalism adviser at Smithville High School and now works as a Digital Marketing Specialist for Walsworth. Danielle's passions lie in writing, managing web content and representing the needs of advisers.