June 29, 2011 / 2011 Adviser Academy

Academy yearbook critiques help advisers improve

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

A successful yearbook is one that readers enjoy, so they buy it, enabling the staff to meet its financial obligations.

“If you meet those two criteria, then your book is a success,” said Susan Massy, yearbook adviser at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee, Kan., and leader of the Roundtable Yearbook Critiques session at Walsworth’s Adviser Academy on Wednesday morning.

Following that pronouncement, Massy used her engaging critiquing style to make five yearbook advisers laugh while helping them improve their 2012 yearbooks.

Without divulging the names of the schools, yearbooks or advisers, here are some tips given by Massy and Valerie Tanke, Walsworth yearbook sales representative in northern Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, that are valuable to any yearbook adviser.

  1. Use captions. Captions are necessary to remember people in the coming decades. If photos are submitted by a parent or professional photographer who does not know the people in the photos, try using email or Facebook to show the photo and get feedback and information.
  2. White space is your friend. You don’t have to fill up every inch of space on a spread. A spread is a rectangle; think about designing the spread in the shape of an eye. If the bulk of the photos and information is in that eyeball-shaped space, that leaves white corners for eyes to rest.
  3. If you have a small book and you have coverage on pages and not spreads, still create spreads. Put like topics together, like English classes and the media center/library, or economics classes and DECA. Consider a main story and a sidebar and not two main stories.
  4. Mug shots should go in the back of the book, not the front. You might just get more support from your administration if you put academics coverage first. Academics is why students show up to school each day.
  5. Keep your fonts consistent. Pick a few and stick with them.

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Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Elizabeth Braden, CJE, is the former editor of Idea File magazine. Before retiring, she was a copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks for more than 15 years, writing articles for various marketing materials, and proofreading copy for the Yearbook and Commercial divisions. Her career included reporting and editing for United Press International and editing for Knight-Ridder Financial News. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media News from the University of Tulsa.