Renumbering the yearbook

Written by Shea Houlihan

It is always with some hesitation that a wholly original approach is taken in developing a yearbook theme. Given the diversity inherent to our west Texas border town of El Paso, the 2009 Franklin High School Pride yearbook editorial staff and I sought to reflect the many dimensions of living on a border by choosing a theme relevant to our existence. We chose ‘shift’ – a theme that required innovative thinking and constant renewal of creativity.

Given its very nature, we sought to incorporate the ‘shift’ concept beyond copy, design and photography. This required us to reexamine the mechanics of a yearbook, including treatment of the spine and page numbering. For example, to introduce our audience to the theme, on the spine we created a column of seven enhanced photographs, coordinating to the interior’s seven sections, overlaid with text placed in different directions.

So we began to examine the feasibility of individually numbering every spread instead of every page. Over the initial objections of our adviser, Jai Tanner, who was understandably concerned with the very real possibility of folio mistakes, my fellow co-editor-in-chief Alex Lopez and I believed the surprised pleasure of our audience witnessing something rarely, if ever, done in a yearbook before (in this case, alternative page numbering) would far outweigh the initial confusion and involved process that we would surely undergo.

Alex and I set up a database that coordinated pairs of page numbers (each pair comprising two halves of a spread) with consecutive spread numbers. This database was necessary because our software, of course, did not support numbering each spread, We had to keep track of traditional page numbers for the purpose of submitting pages and corrected proofs while maintaining the alternative number system in the book itself.

The greatest problem we faced with this innovation, however, became apparent soon after I began working with the index. The InDesign CS2 Index Enhancement only recognized network-generated page numbers and not the numbering system we implemented.

Despite several failures over the course of five months, I was able to collect and save all the name references to the proper spread numbers in the master book. After building the index with more than 8,500 name references, I used the Find and Replace option to override the automatic numbering system present on the plug-in. With painstaking attention, several staff-members and I searched for repeated spread references to each name and deleted any such repetitions.

Though confusing at first, by carefully adhering to this system we were largely able to avoid errors, and now I am proud to say we implemented this technique throughout our 400-page – that is to say, 200-spread – yearbook. I believe we were successful in taking theme development a step further in manipulating the very mechanics of the book itself, and we have enjoyed recognition by our student body for our efforts.

Shea Houlihan