September 17, 1997 / Design / Fall 1997 / Theme

Thinking Outside the Lines

Written by Bonnie Horne

Perhaps when you were a child, filling in your first coloring book, your mother told you to stay inside the lines. That may be a standard for coloring books, but in yearbooks, following the standard, doing things the way they have always been done or, if you will, staying inside the lines, can stifle creativity and give your yearbook a dated, stale look. Experiment, open your mind to new ideas, new approaches, new looks.

1997 Patriots’ Pride
Theme:”Choose Your Own…”
Lake Brantley H.S.
Altamonte Springs,Fla.

Life is all about choices, as the Lake Brantley staff realized. They learned that 1997 was not terribly different from any other year except in how it affected the individuals at their school. Some students were now sophomores, others were freshmen. Some made varsity teams, some did not. As the theme copy reads: “Nothing happened that had never happened before; no one ran the 100 meter dash any faster than the kid the year before, no one studied any harder…The year was different because we were different, and we were making choices of our own.”

The cover of the Patriots’ Pride is all about choices, too. Eight special-effect black and white photographs – four on the front, four on the back – set on a white background feature eight aspects of high school life. The theme phrase “Choose Your Own…” appears under the photos on the front and is set in a typewriter-style font in silver foil. The cover is deceptively simple. This design was the result of a lot of thought and work – just like the choices that high school students must make.

The Lake Brantley staff took a different approach to homecoming coverage this year. Coverage of the dance appeared in the student life section. This spread on the parade appeared in the organizations section. Just as they broke the traditions of coverage placement, the staff also broke design traditions with this spread. It is difficult to design against a powerful full-page photo, but the designer knew how to balance heavy elements with white space and open areas. The use of a large initial letter for the headline and a photo that bleeds off the top left corner work to balance the spread as well as to provide additional entry points for the reader.

Duotones are back and better than ever. In what is one of the best designed and most unique divider spreads around this year, the staff added to the dramatic look of “hanging” 12 photos from an imaginary horizontal line by running them as duotones in shades of red, green, yellow, and blue. With metallic silver ink used as an accent in the caption and copy graphics, along with the repetition of the theme typeface, the overall effect is stunning.

Too often staffs forget how important a strong closing theme spread is to the overall product. That was not the case with the Patriots’ Pride staff. Using design elements from both the opening theme spread and the divider spreads, the closing wraps up the story of the year both graphically and verbally. The copy comes full circle. “Maybe 1997 was special to some. It was a year to remember to those who did run faster, made a varsity team, or got that first kiss. And while it had all happened before, it hadn’t really…. Perhaps…. Everyone’s idea of memorable is, was and will be different…. Choose your own ending.”

997 Reveille
Theme:”Mixed Emotions”
Booneville H.S.
Booneville, Ark.

At 160 pages, the Reveille may not be big, but nobody said a lot of pages guarantees quality. The Reveille may be short on pages, but it is long on great designs, terrific coverage and creative graphics.

Those creative graphics are evident from the cover on. The theme, “Mixed Emotions,” appears on a grape background. The word “mixed” features jumbled letters in a variety of typefaces and colors silk-screened on the background. Words describing a variety of emotions (fiery, merry, persistent, serene) are scattered across the cover and run in a varnished gloss. The word “emotions” appears in a flowing script of gold foil.

When a staff is limited to 160 pages, they have to use their space carefully. To counter their space constraints, the staff used the front and back endsheets to begin and end their theme coverage. The headline is a repeat of the theme logo and the copy uses many of the same typefaces that appeared in the background of the cover to highlight key words that convey emotions. The mini-headlines above the captions also use these different typefaces, a different face for each letter. Mixed emotions, mixed typefaces.

Everyone thinks of summer vacation as a time of relaxation for students. But any high school student knows that simply is not true. Summer vacation so often means practices, camps, practices, workouts, and more practices. This spread does an admirable job of covering the hours of work that cheerleaders, football players and band members spend just getting ready for their fall jobs. A traditional design is highlighted by two sidebars – one a quote box complete with photo, the other a list of the hours dedicated to summer work sessions.

The staff asked students the question: “Is taking math classes worthwhile; does it all add up?” The answer came back a resounding, “Yes!” Too often staffs simply cover math by writing of the courses offered or the teachers teaching. Instead, this spread views math from a practical side. How will students use math in the future – told in direct quotes – and what are their favorite math activities? Traditional copy is replaced with this question-and-answer format. An infographic of survey results on math activities provides another angle to the coverage. Photos showing a variety of scenes round out the story.

One Response to “Thinking Outside the Lines”

September 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm, Sonja Rolla said:

Many thanks for taking the time to write this write-up. It is been very useful. It couldn’t have arrive at a greater time for me!

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Bonnie Horne