Choosing your yearbook theme

Found my yearbooks
photo: RobotSkirts

It’s May. Your book is done. You are finally breathing a sigh of relief and admiring all of the hard work that your staff has done.

Now what?

It’s time to choose the theme for next year!

I know. It might sound kind of ridiculous to start all over again so soon, but now is the perfect time to make sure that you are making the decisions to create the foundation for the 2015 edition of your yearbook. There are A LOT of materials available via the interwebs regarding this topic, so rather than regurgitating what they have done well, here are some personal considerations I make sure my staff do each year that may be of use to you.

1. Come to a %100 agreement

Nothing is worse than being about two months into the new year’s book and hearing, “I never agreed to this theme,” or “Why didn’t we go with my idea?”

To eliminate any instance of this happening, I highly suggest mandating %100 buy in for this decision. If your staff is in total agreement, chances are then that this is the perfect theme. If there is deadlock, then move on to a new idea.

2. Plan the marketing now (not later)

A theme might sound great on paper, but if you cannot plan a marketing campaign around it, then I would highly suggest returning to the drawing board. And make sure it’s also a theme that your staff can HAVE FUN marketing. I don’t know about you, but I would grow tired very quickly of trying to find ways to market “The Time Of Your Life.”

And remember, one of the key components of a successful yearbook program is actually being able to sell the book! And if your staff cannot pay the final bill, then all of the hard work will be overshadowed by the headache of trying to make ends meet.

3. Visual + Verbal = Success

Sometimes it can be like trying to fit a square into a circular hole when identifying the verbal and the visual that will accompany your theme.

Make sure that what you do choose is manageable. Since these elements need to appear on your cover, end sheets, dividers and throughout your general coverage, you do not want to choose a visual that cannot be varied, or a verbal that is “one-note.”

Be smart. The best intentions sometimes appear only in the first few pages of the book and then fade away. Make sure it will last from Opening to Closing time.

4. Google it

Many staffs believe they have brainstormed the most original and unique themes that have never been used in all of eternity. But, once they try Googling it, they may be shocked to see it has been used by several different schools in previous years.

For some staffs, it’s beneficial to use a tried and true theme, while other staffs do not want to use a theme that has already been used by another school. It is up to the staff to make that decision.

There are benefits to both, but take the time to Google the theme to either study how another school utilized the theme or to put it to the wayside for a first-round effort.

What ideas do you have? Leave a comment or email me at and I will add your thoughts to this posting!


About Matthew LaPorte

Matthew LaPorte is the current adviser of the Southwest Shadow online news site and The Howl yearbook at Southwest Career and Technical Academy. He is also the co-President of SNSJ. One of his goals as a founding member of SNSJ is to help create a network of students and advisers who can share their expertise and share the benefits of participating in scholastic journalism in Southern Nevada. When he is not working, Matt enjoys heading off to The Pearl or to The Joint to relive his teenage years rocking out.