How to Make a School Yearbook or High School Annual

UPDATE  August 2008  dotPhoto has imported the best book-making software in the world.  But don’t believe us, download the dotPhotoBook software free at www.dotphotobooks.com and read the About.com review:

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Free software download:  www.dotphotobooks.com

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Last year, I volunteered to help with the yearbook at my daughter’s tiny high school.  Sometime later, the person who usually handled the yearbook retired, and then, a few weeks before the end of the year, two students presented me with a couple of photo CDs.

I searched the web for instructions on making a yearbook. Finding none, I put together this list of ideas that could apply to making any yearbook.

You might also want to refer to Print anything in a dotPhoto book. It explains how you can create any page that includes both text and graphics with your current layout software

Suggestions for creating a yearbook at dotPhoto:

  • Get a photo in the 5” square cutout on the front of the book.  This leaves plenty of room for signing autographs and messages around the cover photo.

  • Start by editing the photos:  pick the best and discard the rest.  Crop the best images.

  • Keep the happy photos – even if they’re not the best photos.  The quality of the expression will be more important that the quality of the image.  Memories are about emotions, and capturing emotions is the goal of a good yearbook.

  • Look for interesting sequences to group together:  the same person in sequence can tell an amusing or interesting story.

  • Sort the photos into logical groups:  teachers, staff, games, trips.  This will help identify sections that you might want to add, and will also create opportunities to create photo montages.

  • Every yearbook has some whimsical photos.  Try adding a few digital effects:  a halo, artistic effect or dramatic lighting can add interest.  Paint Shop Pro is great for this kind of thing.  PSP Free download 30-day trial

    Photo effects from Paint Shop Pro

  • Create a page or two about events of the year. Wikipedia is a great source. Your graduates will be reading these pages in 20 years with interest.   Wikipedia 2006 events

  • Student photos are easy to lay out.  We chose the 6-per-page layout on dotPhoto so that we’d have room for captions.  You can use the dotPhoto Re-arrange feature to put the photos in order, and then drag-and-drop them into the layout.

    Dropping and dragging student photos into dotPhoto’s 6-per-page layout

  • Photo montages add interest.  Start with a blank page and cut and paste the most interesting parts of your best photos. Re-size to fit spaces that you’re trying to fill in.  Don’t worry about creating a perfect page;  the randomness of the montage is engaging.

    Photo montages lend interest

  • Add a parting shot on the last page.  Pick one iconic photo or a group of interesting photos to say good-by.  We picked some goofy pictures including a photo of the yearbook committee in glasses.

    “Parting shot” montage on the last page.

Our students were thrilled with their yearbooks.  They were used to getting output from a color copier, which, given prices for color copies, was probably more expensive!  This year, they got a hardcover book with stitched binding that told their story, and will help them remember the friends, teachers and events of this school year.

There are several great benefits of making a yearbook at dotPhoto:

  • It can be done quickly.  While professional yearbook companies require months of advance notice, you can create and print a dotPhoto Yearbook in two weeks.

  • Since you’re not printing months in advance, you can print more of the year.

  • A dotPhoto book is all color.  Most yearbooks are full of mainly black and white pages.

  • Typical yearbooks today are $75;  dotPhoto yearbooks start at about $25.

  • Typical yearbooks require commitments of hundreds of books.  At dotPhoto, you can order exactly as many as you need, and order one more anytime you want.

  • You can also use the same images to create a dotPhoto Web Site (See My Web Site tab) or a dotPhoto Show about the school year.