Planning Your Yearbook • Inter-State Studio

Planning Your Yearbook

Planning Your Yearbook 

Find resources and information for choosing a theme, creating a yearbook ladder, page types to consider, photography tips and much more below! 

When designing a yearbook, stay consistent with a theme throughout the book. Referring to your theme several times is a great way to enhance your yearbook. You will be surprised how easily your book can come together once you have a theme selected.

Tip: Your yearbook should have a new theme each year. People will enjoy your creativity and the story the yearbook tells each year.

Here are three ways we recommend choosing your cover & theme:

    A great place to start is our selection of free Yearbook Covers. Inter-State offers 35+ COVER DESIGNS for free each year, which can be customized with your school name on each cover. Some covers allow you to further customize by adding school colors and/or your own images. Be sure to check them out!  Each of our yearbook covers also offers a match suite of backgrounds, borders, page headers and clip art to effortless theme your book from front to back. 
    One great thing about yearbook advisors everywhere is that they love to share! There are 1,000s of choices out there. Pick one that best suits your school and then choose a cover design that matches.  We have compiled a list of theme ideas and other useful tools here

When it comes to planning your yearbook getting started is always the hardest part.  A great starting point is to reference your yearbook from the previous year to guide you in building a Yearbook Ladder.  Download and print a blank Yearbook Ladder to help you get started.

When filling out your ladder, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many pages do you need to accommodate faculty/staff and class pages?
  2. What special events are happening this school year that should be included?
  3. Will you be selling business ads or personal ads in the yearbook? How many pages will you need to include?
  4. What sports, groups and clubs will need to be featured?
  5. What other fun pages could be included? (Examples: Senior Recognition, Graduating Class, Accomplishments, Student Quotes, Superlatives and Baby Pictures)

Our design software options make class pages simple and quick to design. If Inter-State Studio takes your school pictures, we will automatically add your faculty, staff and student images into your chosen yearbook design program. Many of our design programs already have multiple templates for class portrait pages ready for you to use. Simply flow your images into these pages and add your background to continue your theme.


Let your creativity shine when designing special event pages. These pages are a great place to slightly stray away from your overall theme. Consider a special background for these pages that relates to the event you are featuring. This will help tie the page back to the event you’re showcasing. When making special event pages, choose about ten pictures that will capture the essence of the event. Try displaying one large group picture and then choosing pictures of students involved in the event.

Tip: It may be tempting to squeeze as many pictures on a page as possible, but it is not always pleasing to the eye. Find something special about each event and highlight.


Are you designing a larger book? Consider using division pages to separate your book into sections for easy navigating. Include your sections in a table of contents at the beginning of the yearbook for even easier navigation through the pages.


Do you sell advertising to local businesses?  This is a great way to fundraise for your yearbook program and promote local businesses.  There are several ways to structure these ads to fit your yearbook design.  We recommend offering businesses the choice between business card size, quarter page size, half page size or a full page size ad. 

Tip: Ask your supporters to provide you with a good, crisp clear piece of artwork for publishing.  Business cards on any type of color stock or foil are difficult to reproduce.  Photocopy the artwork and if it comes out gray or hard to read, ask them for different artwork.   For more information on selling ads, visit our Fundraising Your Yearbook resources. 


Selling parent ads is a great money-maker with very little work for the advisor. These can be offered just like the business ads.  

Help parents provide you with quality photos that you can use by sharing the following guidelines. 

  1. Poorly scanned photos will not show up well in the yearbook. 
  2. Ask for the photos and scan them yourself; ask for prepaid, self-addressed envelopes to return the pictures, or leave them in the school office so parents can pick them up at their convenience. 
  3. Email is the best way to get pictures. 
  4. Provide parents with the number of pictures to send. 

When it comes to keeping images organized, we recommend using Google Drive to store and organize pictures by class and events. Share your recreated folders with those who will be helping you take photos throughout the year.

They can add additional folders and document the specifics of the event and who is in each picture.

Tip: Set reminders to notify your photo helpers throughout the year about capturing those special events and moments.

For Great Pictures Remember:

  • Use flash for indoor photos.
  • Be as close to your subjects as possible.
  • Scan original photos instead of making photocopies.
  • Use a camera with 6.0 megapixels or higher.
  • A 250 dpi jpg digital photo is recommended.

Avoid These Common Photo Mistakes:

  • Taking photos of people facing the sun.
  • Not using a flash in areas with low light (e.g. school gym).
  • Increasing the resolution of a photo on your computer.
  • Creating dark shadows by using the flash too close to the background.
  • Choosing dark backgrounds, like red curtains or gym floors.

Magazines, books and other publications are great sources for ideas, but remember they are protected by U.S. copyright laws. Use your creativity to adapt your favorite layouts and other design ideas to create something completely new. Photographs, graphics, artwork, character images and character names, as well as slogans and phrases, are all protected by copyright laws and cannot be included in your yearbook. You MUST have permission to use copyrighted material. Include a copy of the permission letter with your layout.


  • Professional Sports Logos
  • Disney Clip Art
  • Dr. Seuss Clip Art
  • Images from Movies
  • Video Game Backgrounds & Characters
  • Cartoons


If you have questions if something will work in your book, contact your customer service representative to find out for sure.


Our Yearbook Design Programs offer endless possibilities when creating your pages.  With a wide variety of page templates available, you can easily customize each page.  Be creative by adding borders around pictures, clip art and captions. 

There are many places you can find design inspiration.  Browse online, look in current magazines, view Pinterest boards, etc. to get ideas. 

Tip: Don’t let yourself get tied down to a certain template.  Add interest to each page by switching up the layout throughout the book. 


Headlines are important for your book as they tie everything together with your theme and page content.  Some key tips to keep in mind: 

  • Keep your headlines in the same location on every page or in each section. 
  • Use a mixture of fonts in your headline. 
  • Add some color to your text or text boxes. 
  • Use word-play in your headline to match the page theme. 

A picture is worth a thousand words! Captioning photos in your yearbook will help students and parents remember the story behind the photo for years to come. 

Label photos as they are collected to make it easier for you to add them to your book. 

Tip: To write the perfect captions, simply answer the questions, “who, what, when, where, why and how?”


Add a little something special to your yearbook with clip art.  It is a fun way to: 

  • Fill blank space
  • Accent a page
  • Tie certain pages together
  • Continue your theme throughout your yearbook


Our design programs offer a wide variety of clip art for you to use. You can find clip art to match each of our standard cover designs as well as generic clip art pieces. Combine both to create a special one-of-a-kind design. 

Tip: While clip art can enhance a page, don’t let it overpower your photos and memories.