“Tell Me a Story” Writing for the Yearbook – Part 1 (finding the story)

Why do people read yearbooks?

  1. A yearbook captures important events, touching memories, sentimental feelings that matter – the times that give meaning and life to a school year.
  2. The yearbook reminds us, years down the track, what it was like when we were younger.

Yearbooks without stories have a hard time of achieving these two goals. To achieve these goals, we need to write stories that are captivating and personal!

1. Read the following rules, then discuss whether our current yearbook follows these rules or not.

  • Focus on people, not events. Think about the stories you read – they are about characters overcoming problems and striving to achieve goals. How can you make your page more focused on the people involved in the event or activity?
  • Narrow focus to a moment or two that defines the topic, rather than trying to tell everything that happened. For example, tell a story that shows how the volleyball team was different this year. (Usually big games, finals, or important tournaments near the end of the season work well.) Use photos, captions and sidebars to tell the rest of the story.

2. In your activity/story groups, brainstorm the ‘Who, what, where, why, when, how’ of your story. How can you get the story for your page? What information do you need to find out?

3. Read this document to find out the various ways you can tell a story. Sketch out a rough plan for your page(s).

4. Go and get your story!

MS Chowa Introduction – Personal Yearbook Page!

Today we will learn the principles of effective page design by creating our own personal yearbook pages! You will need Adobe InDesign installed on your computer for this lesson.

Step #1: Make sure to check the ladder to indicate which teams / pages you will be working on for the yearbook this year.

Step #2: Access the following website to learn about the basics of page design. Then, have a look through our yearbooks from past years and evaluate them – how are we doing?

Step #3: Start your own practice page!

  • Download the InDesign template here.
  • Make a folder on your desktop called ‘Yearbook’. In this folder, make another folder called ‘Practice Page’. Put your template into this folder.
  • Gather some photographs about you to create a page with. It could be about you generally, about friends, hanging out, hobbies, sports, a recent holiday… Download these photos into your ‘Practice Page’ folder.
  • Follow this guide to create a practice page, remembering to follow the 10 rules of design!

Step #4: Evaluate our pages

  • Review the 10 rules of basic design here. Then complete this checklist for a friend’s page. Has the person:
    • created a double page spread?
    • used columns?
    • placed a central or ‘centr-y’ / dominant image (that stretches across both pages; it can be ‘offset’)?
    • used consistent internal margins (i.e. is the gap between all elements equal?)
    • left some ‘white space’?
    • used the ‘bleed’ sparingly? (i.e. once in each direction)
    • put empty spaces on the outside (not the inside!)


Exporting your yearbook page

Today we will start building our rough printed portfolio for the yearbook, so we need to learn how to export our InDesign pages into PDFs.

Follow this guide to find out how!

As for error checking, this website has a useful tutorial on Live Preflight. It is quite detailed and not really necessary, but you might find it useful should you get stuck.

The following document is also accessible through Google Drive here.



(from Jill Butler’s Lynda.com tutorial)


  1. Distrust default software settings
  2. Ensure good contrast between text and background
  3. Avoid chart junk and page junk
  4. Enforce a consistent style within a document
  5. Maintain a visual hierarchy
  6. Group related page elements


  1. Printed body text from 9à 11 points
  2. Set body text two to three alphabets wide
  3. Favour flush-left, rugged right body text
  4. Separate sentences with one space, not two
  5. Don’t allow less than seven characters on a line
  6. Avoid bad paragraph breaks
  7. Avoid line-breaking hyphens
  8. Signal new paragraphs once, not twice
  9. Break up large blocks of text


  1. Emphasise ten percent or less of text
  2. Avoid all caps and underlined text
  3. Set acronyms and initialisms in small caps
  4. Hang punctuation in small chunks of text
  5. Hang bullets and numbers in lists
  6. Avoid bad line breaks
  7. Use symbols and special characters as needed
  8. Use proportional old-style figures in body text
  9. Adjust learning and kerning for large text
  10. Verify software alignments optically


  1. Connect thoughts, using em dashes
  2. Show ranges, using en dashes
  3. Clarify, and improve readability, using hyphens
  4. Designate feet and inches, with prime symbols
  5. Replace missing characters with apostrophes


  1. Limit typefaces to two per document
  2. Use typefaces that reinforce a document’s mood
  3. Choose serif or sans serif, based on aesthetics