Small school staffs can create great yearbooks

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

The size of your school will only affect the yearbook if you let it – that was the message from David Zinsmeister on Wednesday afternoon during his “Small School – Big Impact” session at Walsworth’s Adviser Academy.

Zinsmeister knows what it is like to produce an award-winning yearbook in a small school. He is adviser of a 160-page yearbook at Manchester High School in North Manchester, Ind., a school of about 400 students.

Zinsmeister gave the advisers one list of what school size does not impact, and a list of what school size should impact. Three of the top pieces of advice he gave were:

  • Increase the outer margins of the pages. This creates the illusion that the book is bigger than it really is. Play with what looks good. Zinsmeister uses 1 pica in the gutter, 5 picas on the top and sides, and 7 picas at the bottom.
  • Use white space. Overcrowding makes pages look smaller.
  • Choose pictures wisely. Do not use fuzzy photos.

He also recommended strict attention to the ladder. Since small books have no space to waste, staffs should carefully consider what should be covered.

Lastly, he said what matters is telling the story of the year. No staff should overlook the fundamentals of journalism, photography and design in creating their yearbook.

Elizabeth Braden, CJE
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.