Photo by: Gabriella Minjarez
Level Up your yearbook writing
Written by Sarah Scott
So you’re ready to Level Up your writing. Congrats! The fact that you’re reading this blog already means you are taking steps in the “write” direction.
In the yearbook world, we know that any story worth telling is worth telling well. Sure, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a picture with words is exponentially multiplied in value.
While there are many methods for communicating a story, be it design, photography, etc., writing is one of the most effective ways to control your narrative and share your message. The voice you incorporate into your yearbook affects every part of the book and will last for generations to come. At Walsworth, we believe stories matter, so let’s do them justice.
Writing – can you be more specific?
Writing is not limited to a X number-of-words story on a page about the football team. In fact, that approach quickly becomes monotonous and the stories are overlooked because it could be the same story any year. What makes you want to read? It’s previews done right.
The headlines, theme, photography – they all serve as supporting characters to the lead character – the story, previewing and teasing what’s ahead.
Take a moment to reflect upon all the text that goes into yearbook production. Before anyone reads the story on a spread, they’ll read the headline. Before they read the headline, they’ll read the theme on the cover. They will read the caption underneath their photo. There’s even the text that doesn’t go into the yearbook. What about the copy you use to market your yearbook and ads to your students and parents? What about your social media messaging? What about quotes on page? Even something as seemingly simple as listing a name under a photo matters. My grandma graduated high school more than 60 years ago, but she still remembers that her senior yearbook mislabeled her as her sister in the senior portraits.
Let’s reign it in though. It all matters, but choosing your focus will help you excel. Lucky for you, Walsworth has great tools to level your writing up in every category. Captions – it’s as easy as A, B, C, D. Interviews – we’ve got curriculum for that. Editing provides the perfect polish. Theme copy – we’ve got you covered. Take a deep breath, and let’s get started.
Evaluate your yearbook
Before you go too crazy, make an honest assessment of the writing in last year’s yearbook. What grade would you give it? Do you even have writing? Some yearbooks have been picture book collages for so long that your students may seem resistant to adding writing. They may say it’s unnecessary, but it’s not. We’ve got the examples to prove it from schools who made the change.
Once you’ve given yourself a letter grade and recognize which areas you want to improve, dive into our Yearbook Suite curriculum. We have curriculum for interviewing to help you get better quotes for your stories and captions, captions and headlines to inform and intrigue the reader so they read the story, editing so your writing is polished and professional and, of course, writing so you can effectively communicate your message.
If profiles, stories and coverage are your focus, we recommend the Feature It webinar with Jim Jordan and Susan Massy, adviser of a national award-winning publication year after year. Then check out the Ask Mike podcast page for podcasts that will inform and entertain:
- “How can student leaders coach great writers?”
- “How do I find and tell awesome yearbook stories?”
- “What makes yearbook storytelling great?”
Don’t forget to show your captions some love with the Writing Yearbook Captions That Will Captivate eBook. It will give you a simple formula for wow captions. We also have this helpful blog and video lesson plan for teaching captions here.
And last but not least, your theme copy. Theme may be a small word, but it has a big impact on your book, so give it your all. We’ve got a great blog that will give you an example and break down theme copy for you so your closing divider has all the punch of your opening divider. You can see even more great examples by going to our theme gallery for inspiration.
We’re so excited to see what you come up with this year! As always, one of your best resources is your Walsworth rep, so talk to them about what’s best for your school and for samples to see. Your story matters – tell it!