October 9, 2012 / Coverage / Design / Fall 2012

Spicy sides for your yearbook coverage

Written by Gracie MacDonell

Add flavor to your coverage by using different ways to serve up the information.

Meat and potatoes are satisfying, but vegetables and fruits are essential, and appetizers and dessert are fun. When you think of how to present a story, think about a meal. Does it need a filling feature story with a sweet pull quote? Or maybe a veggie plate of charts will suffice.

When you need information pulled out and explained further, or in a different way, consider using pie charts, surveys, lists, quote boxes, timelines, tables and fast-fact boxes to tell the complete story – and leave readers pleasantly full.

Good reasons to use these items:

  • Lets you include information that does not fit the traditional copy/caption mold.
  • Enhances other content with supplemental facts and opinions.
  • Uses and saves space in a new and interesting way.

    Walnut Grove2

    Arrowhead, Walnut Grove High School Loganville, Ga. This staff took their theme, “Rhapsody,” throughout their book with references in headlines, playlists for events, and quotes, in this case, JV football players revealing the songs that get them pumped before a game.

  • Whisks art and copy together to inform and entice the reader.

Secondary coverage can carry your theme throughout the book.

  • Create a survey with questions related to your theme that goes out to all students at the beginning of the year. Use the answers throughout the book.
  • Use your theme colors on your infographics.
  • Create sidebars and personality profiles to incorporate your theme.

Coverage using these secondary methods is still coverage, and it takes work to get the information. You must still interview students, take surveys and do research to come up with the information.

What’s in your meal?

  • Include information obtained from student polls or surveys, and other opinion-based information such as interesting quotes, trends or viewpoints.
  • Round out a story with the necessary ingredients, including general club, class and team information – dry data made interesting.
  • Add interesting tidbits such as cultural references or related facts.
  • Make needed statistics, such as team scores, numerical data and timelines palatable.

    Monarch p36_2

    Mosaic, Monarch High School Louisville, Colo. Bar charts, pie charts, lists and pull quotes – it’s all here in a spread revealing survey results on topics ranging from cheating on tests and in relationships to fashion and fast food.

Polls and surveys

  • Polls provide a quick-read of relevant information.
  • Answers can be presented as graphics, graphs, pie charts, bar charts, pull quotes and more.
  • Brainstorm questions to incorporate your theme throughout your book.


  • Think about the best type chart to clearly and quickly disseminate your information.
  • Consider using your theme colors for the different areas.
  • Use one of these types: Fever chart, Pie chart, Bar chart, Table (think scoreboards), Fast fact boxes


  • Gives you a great format for presenting information in a clear, obvious manner.
    Lake Brantley2
    Patriots’ Pride, Lake Brantley High School,
Altamonte Springs, Fla. A list does not have to be in sequential order. Notice the main story is a paragraph at the top on the left page, then the lists are not in “list order,” although some of the instructions are.
  • If the list has an order, use numbers. If not, use bullet points, such as a small theme graphic.
  • Lists efficiently shorten a feature story by pulling out information such as names and awards.


  • A logical way to present chronological information
  • Great idea for anniversary books
  • Does not have to follow the traditional, straight-line format – consider a bar or fever chart

Quote boxes

  • Interesting quotes grab readers’ attention and leave them hungry for more information
  • Visually appealing when used as an independent design element
  • Excellent way to tie content to theme

Sidebar copy

  • Shorter than a feature story
  • Provides an in-depth look at one aspect of the main story
  • May include a pull-out quote, image, graphic element and some statistics

So, like a little spice and variety makes a meal more interesting, add spice and variety to your coverage by using different ways to present information to your readers.

Gracie MacDonell