September 2, 2003 / Fall 2003 / Theme

Creating Unity With Theme

Written by Idea File Staff

The new editor could visualize it: a pink and purple yearbook cover with a castle and the words, “Once Upon a Time….”

Besides the fact that no male high school student would be caught carrying it, there is another major flaw — it is a cover, not a theme. Theme development must go beyond the cover and carry the reader throughout the book.

David Zinsmeister, adviser at Manchester High School, North Manchester, Ind., has heard many ideas mistaken for themes while teaching at workshops. This usually means the students do not understand the purpose of a yearbook theme.

“A theme is a unifying idea or concept which links the book to the students and the school and the activities in the school that year,” Zinsmeister said.

Themes, whether a catch-phrase or a concept, can be presented both verbally and graphically to express the idea and should be repeated and developed throughout the book. The theme should set the mood and influence the coverage of topics, the way the copy is written, the photography, layout, and even font choice. But while it is an influencing factor, every page does not have to drip with theme. Sometimes subtlety is the best approach.

A theme should work well in every section of the book. But do not get caught up in the idea that each year’s theme must be perfect.

“You are never going to know it is the perfect theme,” he said. “As an adviser, you have to be able to understand the depth of the theme.”

Mainly, a good theme allows the staff to tell the story of the school year and touches every student who attended, Zinsmeister said.

Shield
2003 Thomas Downey H.S., Modesto, Calif.

The design for this student life division spread helps to carry the theme, “Distractions,” throughout the book by only using photos whose content reflect it. The staff further developed the theme on each of the division spreads by using a photo from the cover as the dominate image.

 

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.