Photo by: Hinsdale Central High School yearbook staff

February 13, 2020 / Copywriting / Coverage

Yearbook staffs shouldn’t slough off the colophon

Written by Evan Blackwell, CJE

Updated by Walsworth Yearbooks

You’d be surprised how often it happens. You pick up a yearbook, see a cover design you really love, or flip through and eye a font you like, then flip to the back looking for the colophon to read the specs and… nothing.

A number of yearbook staffs get overwhelmed with the workload when pages are due, or don’t understand the significance of a colophon, or exactly what belongs in one. Or some just flat don’t know what a colophon even is (it’s OK, we won’t tell). So it’s a step that gets skipped.

Some yearbook advisers have specific reasons they believe colophons are important and details they like to include in them. But make no mistake – your yearbook staff should consider a colophon a required part of the book.

If you are one of those advisers who might not know exactly all of the elements that should be in your colophon, we’ve compiled a list to help out!

The basics

First things first, a colophon typically goes in the back of your yearbook, most often either right before or right after the index. Start your colophon by covering all of the basics. These are the facts that shouldn’t require much, if any, research to compile, including:

  • Your book name, volume number and school year
  • Number of pages
  • Price charged for the book
  • Who was responsible for producing the book – yearbook class or club, how many students were involved
  • What scholastic journalism organizations the yearbook staff belongs to (NSPA? CSPA? Any local state organizations?)
  • Your yearbook’s theme, possibly with a brief theme explanation
  • Your staff’s editorial philosophy and advertising policy

Printing information

A primary purpose of a colophon is to inform readers how your yearbook was printed and what it included. So it needs to have the following:

  • Name and location of the company that printed the book
  • Number of copies that were printed
  • Type of paper that was used
  • Details about the book’s cover – Who designed it? What were the specifications or materials used on the cover and endsheets?
  • Any special books specs – UV coating? Augmented reality?
  • Were any currents events, spring or autograph supplements used?
  • Citation giving credit to any stock photos used or purchased, or materials from people outside the classroom, such as local photographers or writers

Really get into the details

Many staffs choose to outline intricate details and specs of how their yearbook was created. These types of details can include:

  • Fonts used in the book
  • Colors used in the book
  • Type of computers that were used to create the book
  • List of camera equipment used
  • Software program that was used to design and build the book

Time to recognize

Some staffs use the colophon as the place where they offer acknowledgments and give thanks to all those who helped them along the way throughout the year. That means:

  • Offering thanks to the publishing company sales rep, customer service rep or any teachers who provided support to the yearbook program
  • Listing of any awards the yearbook program earned during the year, or accolades for the previous edition of the book handed out during the year

Also, be sure that your colophon includes who readers can contact if they have any questions or concerns. Often, staffs choose to include a thank-you letter from the book’s editor-in-chief, as well as a staff photo(s), and package it together in a fun, attractive yearbook staff spread. That’s optional.

The important thing is to actually take the time to do a colophon. It might seem like an unnecessary, extraneous task during a busy year, but it matters.

You spent hours and hours of valuable time on your yearbook. More people than you realize will be interested in the details of your publication, and meeting the team responsible for creating it.

Do you do a colophon in your yearbook? What do you always make sure to include? Let us know by leaving a Comment below.

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Evan Blackwell, CJE

Evan Blackwell, CJE, is a Marketing Automation Specialist for Walsworth. He's been a writer, editor and web content specialist for Walsworth Yearbooks for the past 15+ years, and is the author of the Yearbook Suite's "The Art of the Interview" unit. Prior to joining Walsworth, Blackwell spent five years as an award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.