March 23, 2015 / Ask Mike / Spring 2015

Curb your inspiration enthusiasm

Written by Mike Taylor, CJE

Inspiration is everywhere. It is on the Internet via sites such as Pinterest and Issuu. It is at the local grocery story on the magazine racks or greeting card aisle. It’s even in store windows and on television.

But how exactly do you go from a cool magazine idea that you find to an awesome yearbook spread? And the bigger question is: how do you adapt something and make it look like it fits with other pages of your yearbook?

Before looking for inspiration, a yearbook designer must review the standards in this year’s yearbook style sheet. Keep in mind the font families, color palettes and tone set forth when the theme was decided upon and the cover was created. For the most part, designers should not stray from those standards.

When looking at a cool spread on Issuu or Pinterest, you may see many things you like, but think about taking only a little of the inspiration. It could be the layout of photos or graphics, the look of a great sidebar modular element or the way the headline is designed. But ask yourself, does it fit to scale? Do the images or graphic drive the look? Will the inspiration piece throw off the balance of the spread, or worse, the entire book?

These are questions best served with a little practice. Try several attempts at the look. Project the spread or module/sidebar on a screen and see if the adaptation fits. Discuss. If so, yay, if not, go back to the drawing board. Do not try to fit a square peg into a round hole by taking an entire spread, adapting it and throwing off the consistency of the entire book.

So, while adapting, remember these things:

  • The staff should have a design style sheet for the book.
  • Always stay with the book’s chosen fonts, font families and type styles.
  • Keep type styles consistent with the rest of the book (leading, justification, drop initials, etc.)
  • Use a contrasting color or type in headlines for added pop.
  • Stay consistent with color choices.

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Mike Taylor, CJE

Mike Taylor, CJE, sees things differently, and as a journalism specialist for Walsworth, he uses that creative edge to help yearbook staffs across the country put together the yearbook they dream about. A former award-winning yearbook adviser, Mike has been awarded the JEA Medal of Merit, CSPA Gold Key and Florida Scholastic Press Association Gold Medallion. Follow Mike on Pinterest at taylormjc.