Your Year's Blueprint: The Yearbook Ladder

The blueprint for your year, the yearbook ladder, may look different from last year. The yearbook ladder is a way of organizing your yearbook so you can plan and prepare for your coverage. Typically there are two ways of organizing a book (though we have seen various creative organization over the years, such as organizing by wing of the building). You can organize traditionally by subject or chronologically.

In the environment we are all currently in (yeah, that one where we don't really know what next week will look like, let alone next month or season), it may be hard to organize a book by subject. For example, we could save page 104-105 for Varsity Basketball, but who knows if there will even be a team. Organizing by subject this year, could potentially put you and your staff/committee at a disadvantage should our school schedules be affected by COVID-19 again like last spring. Remember when you were left scrambling to come up with content to fill your pages? Well, you did it! But let's avoid that at all costs this year if at all possible.

This is why so many schools are choosing to go with a chronological organization method this year. Organizing your book chronologically means that you will be laying out your content as it happens doing your best to cover everything you would have covered in a subject-organized yearbook. Chronological yearbooks can be organized by month, by season, by semester or even by quarter. It gives you the opportunity for improved coverage, logical organization and deadlines, and it offers the opportunity for every reader to be interested in at least something on every page (that old, "something for everyone" concept).

Within the chronological organization, the spreads can be designed traditionally (Winter Royalty gets a full spread in the winter section) or it can be blended coverage. Blended coverage may be based on a span of time, for example, a week. That spread would then cover any/all activities and events that happened that week. Maybe there was a volleyball game, a choir concert, StuCo retreat, and senior English speeches. Using blended coverage, you would have a spread with several different groups of students.

Although it takes a lot of planning and a lot of paying attention, a successful chronological book reads with ease and is unique in its ability to involve all readers all the time. If you would like to consider chronological organization of your yearbook this year, consider these tips.

  1. Write down all known events from the school's master calendar.

  2. Answer the question, "What stories do we want to tell this year?" And from those answers brainstorm other potential topics.

  3. Plan the number of spreads that you will have for each time frame. For example, in the fall section, are you dedicating one spread to each week of the fall?

  4. Leave space for unexpected events and anytime activities, such as the recycling club that picks up the recycling from each classroom every single Wednesday. This can be filler anytime, since it happens all year.

  5. Place the theme pages first on your ladder. Where will your opening and closing pages be? Where will your division pages be?

  6. Add in the People and/or Reference Section. The people section is where will find all of the portraits and people feature stories. The Reference Section may include index, group photos, and ads. These two don't quite fit into the timeline at any point in the year, so they get their own section outside of the chronological organization.

  7. You create your content. Brainstorm each week as a group for possible coverage ideas.

If organizing your yearbook chronologically this year sounds like it would make your life easier, we think you will also find that you will enhance the overall appeal for the majority of readers. Check out this story about a yearbook staff that transitioned successfully from traditional organization to chronological organization. Happy planning!

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