March 25, 2011 / Yearbook Tips

Adding a disclaimer can soften yearbook mistakes

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Work with printed publications long enough and you know mistakes happen. The usual ones are typos and misspelled words. But sometimes it is a misidentified student in a caption or students left out of the book.

Some yearbooks put a disclaimer in the colophon reminding readers that the book is a student creation. Just like the rest of the colophon explains how the book was created with specific computers and cameras, the disclaimer adds that throughout the long process, which is done by students, mistakes can be made.

The colophon and disclaimer are informative for parents who know nothing about how a yearbook is produced. It explains that the yearbook is like a choir performance or a football game – a flat note or a misread play is going to appear sometimes because the participants are students.

The disclaimer in the 2010 Neshnabec of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Ill., is short and straightforward:

“Neshnabec is a student publication. Every effort was made to be accurate and exhaustive in student body coverage. As this is the only edition printed, we apologize for any mistakes that were made during this educational process.”

The colophon in the 2010 edition of The Torch of Athens Drive High School, Raleigh, N.C., lists the cover and contents materials and equipment used, but prefaces it with this verbiage:

“The Athens Drive High School yearbook staff is pleased to present this publication to our fellow students. The publication was created by students for students and is not meant to be a professional publication. All efforts were made to improve our product and catch all mistakes. We apologize for any inaccuracies.”

You may want to put a disclaimer on your colophon or staff page at the end of your book. While you think about it, here are a few examples of things that have gone wrong in yearbooks and how advisers addressed 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.