School yearbooks have evolved since posed team photo days and simple portrait pages.

Today, yearbook designs are fuelled by out-of-the-box ideas inspired by platforms such as Pinterest and creative yearbook ideas other schools may be using.

Despite living in a predominately digital world, holding a printed yearbook to flick through the pages still holds a special place for students, graduates, teachers and families.

Whether you’re making a primary or high school keepsake, here are some ideas to inspire your yearbook project.

Choose a Yearbook Theme

Choosing a unified yearbook theme will help organise your content and define the school year. Pick something that reflects what students in the year group find interesting and popular, and will remain memorable.

To keep the yearbook polished and professional, your chosen theme should set the mood for the entire project. Some ideas may include:

  • Traditional vs. modern: Traditional yearbooks can still have a modern appeal
  • School-inspired: Have art students submit their own proposal
  • Magazine theme: Many yearbooks are being made to look like magazines
  • Inspirational: Choose a source of wisdom and feature quotes and ideas inspired by that person to feature in the theme
  • Pop-culture: Choose a popular movie, music or book and incorporate its style or tropes into the theme

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Although books should never be judged by their covers, investing time to get your yearbook cover just right is important. After all, first impressions are everything!

Setting the stage for the rest of the pages, yearbook covers should reflect the overarching theme. Whether it be a photo collage, an inspirational or quirky quote, colourful geometric shapes or other creative designs, make sure it represents what the school and school year are all about.

The anatomy of a good yearbook cover will include the following essentials:

  •         School name, logo and branding colours
  •         Title, slogan or motto
  •         Class year
  •         The word ‘yearbook’

Other considerations to add are cover binding (soft covers, hardcovers or saddle stitch), cover surface (matte vs gloss), font choice and wording for the spine or inside cover. If you choose to include your school name and year on the spine, pay attention to the direction of the text.

Full page images, an autograph or signature page or ‘special thanks from the yearbook team’ can be included inside the cover.

Get Creative with Page Layouts

Effective yearbook designs will spark attention and draw the reader’s eye to each page.

Yearbooks are special because flipping through the pages feels like going backwards in time, reminiscing about friends and past events. To truly capture the best moments, add flair to your yearbook pages with colour and smart page designs.

Keep your creative theme throughout page layouts. Some elements to consider are:

  • Column page dividers: Yearbooks are highly visual, to break up any text split the page into columns and incorporate images, graphic shapes and colours
  • Pay attention to fonts: Keep typography to 2-3 fonts, one serif and one or two sans-serif or script fonts for accent
  • Article pages: If you choose to include articles, use text wisely – shorter is better in a world of character-limited tweets and image-driven yearbooks
  • Quotes: Try overlaying fun quotes, add small icons and play with bright colours.
  • White space: White ‘open’ spaces create better balance in the design and keeps the reader from being overwhelmed
  • Space for creativity: In addition to white open space, leave white space below and above some photo pages for students to write in funny captions and comments to each other, or sign the pictures

Page layouts you may want to use are a contents page, section dividers (helpful for separating classes and can be distinguished with different colours), photo pages, article pages, profile pages, group photo pages and autograph pages.

Be Consistent

Consistency is critical in yearbooks.

Page templates and/or double page spreads can be set up, ensuring the book flows perfectly from section to section.

Incorporate Photos and Quotes

Photos and quotes are a staple of school yearbooks.

To get the best picks of the mix, make time to interview students and teachers in the creation and design stages of the project. Sourcing the perfect quotes combine nostalgia with personal reflection, whether they be funny, inspirational, creative or simple. A pre-built questionnaire can be helpful to source information.

Include a variety of different pictures and find creative ways to show appreciation for student participation in school life – for example, action photos from a sports carnival.

Other ideas may include creative photos with props to express the personality of each student.

Go Digital

Although the nostalgia of tangible school yearbooks will always be strong, it’s a great idea to also create a digital version of your yearbook.

Make a PDF or include the yearbook images on a CD. Digital publishing software can turn hardcopy yearbooks into an interactive PDF publication, so students have keepsakes in both formats.

Have a creative idea for your school yearbook? Share below in the comments!

  • The school provided such a good Year book for the girls at the school. They still have them. Year 6 and year 12.


  • I know the high school I attended in the 80s haven’t changed their year books. None of this theme stuff there. I still enjoy flicking through mine, as well as looking at the school photos. Definitely the best years of a persons life, we just don’t realise it at the time


  • Year books are just so delightful.


  • I would be interested to find out when Year Books were introduced.


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