Visual Design: Project 8 - Mini-Yearbooks


Project Overview

A yearbook, or annual, is frequently used to record, commemorate, and highlight a school year. At most institutions, student teams publish yearbooks. Some countries and organizations also publish yearbooks as annual summary reports. In this project, you form teams to develop and create a yearbook. You will create templates of several double-page layouts and create reusable graphics and illustrations to implement thematic and design consistency throughout the yearbook.

Student Product: Mini-yearbooks


Project Goals


  • Create a small yearbook
  • Build a yearbook, using templates
  • Prepare yearbook for print production
  • Prepare yearbook for HTML and EPUB display


Project Objectives


At the completion of the project, you will have developed the following skills:

Project Management Skills [Rubric]

  • Assigning and managing roles
  • Creating and managing a production plan
  • Creating a style guide

Design Skills [Rubric]

  • Designing and creating double-page layout spreads
  • Bleeding photos across pages
  • Gathering or creating reusable graphics and illustrations
  • Designing and creating reusable page treatments
  • Designing and creating thematically linked pages
  • Designing and creating backdrops for photo pages
  • Designing for multiple devices and outputs

Research and Communication Skills [Rubric]

  • Communicating to peers, instructors, and the community
  • Researching and investigating yearbooks
  • Researching and gathering information on school activities
  • Planning and selecting what information is important
  • Planning and conducting focus groups
  • Completing a review and redesign cycle
  • Presenting a yearbook and reflection

Technical Skills [Rubric]


  • Creating master pages
  • Converting text to outline
  • Using the Paste Into command
  • Designing facing-page spreads
  • Bleeding photos
  • Working with the gutter
  • Combining multiple files
  • Using books
  • Creating tables of content and indexes
  • Applying stroke, scale, and skew to text
  • Using sections
  • Using object styles
  • Using alternate layouts
  • Using liquid layouts


  • Understanding Illustrator symbols
  • Using the symbol sprayer
  • Creating patterns



Student Product:  Mini-Yearbook




Project Steps

Planning a mini-yearbook

  • Elements of a yearbook:
    • Cover
    • Theme
    • Double-page spreads
    • Ads
    • Index
    • Eyeline
    • Body copy
    • Headlines
    • Captions
    • Photos (dominant, supporting, bleed, etc.)
    • Graphics and illustrations
    • Page numbering
  • Yearbook production terminology:
    • Opening and closing:  First and last spread pages introduce and conclude the theme
    • Title page:  First page of the yearbook; should include yearbook and school names and all relevant contact information
    • Signature:  Sixteen-page section of the book, made up of two sides of the page - the signatures are folded, stitched, and trimmed and then collated to make the yearbook
    • Flat:  Eight-page section of the book. 
    For instance, one flat of the first signature of the yearbook is pages 1, 4–5, 8–9, 12–13, and 16; the other flat is pages 2–3, 6–7, 10–11, and 14–15
    • Spread:  Side-by-side or facing pages in the yearbook; for instance, pages 2–3, 4–5, 6–7, and so on
    • Ladder:  Page-by-page plan of the yearbook, planned in flats and signatures
    • Gutter:  Vertical space where the two pages of a spread meet
    • Internal margin:  Space between elements on a page
    Note:  Color is purchased in flats and signatures and the way it impacts the cost of a yearbook - for instance, if you purchase 1-16 (one signature) and then put color on the facing page to 16 (page 17) then you will be billed for another full flat of color
  • Teams:  two or three people
    Yearbook production roles:
    • Editor
    • Writer
    • Art director
    • Photographer
    • Designer
    Note:  In a particular role you are simply the task manager for the role - you will work cooperatively on all tasks, but team members individually are responsible for tracking quality and completeness based on your roles - you can combine or split roles as necessary to accommodate the number of members on your team
  • Guidelines for the yearbook:
    • Length is 15 to 20 pages
    • Incorporate various yearbook elements, especially theme
    • Two to four distinct page layout templates used throughout the yearbook
    • At least one double-page layout spread
    • Three to four sections (for instance, select one class, one academic, one sport, and one extracurricular activity to feature; select one to two “fun” sections such as candid photos or superlatives)
    • Sustainable design:  Be sensitive to the environmental impact of your design and make an effort to comply with economic, social, and environmental sustainability principles
    • Print and electronic versions of the yearbook - the electronic version may require a different page size depending on the target viewing device

TASK:  Assign roles for task managers and brainstorm the theme and goals for the yearbook

Create a project plan for your yearbook that includes number of pages, number of sections, content, and number and content of photographs -  complete the high-level milestones and tasks knowing you will add details once designs are finalized - plan for contingencies when setting due dates

Discuss a yearbook ladder—yearbook terminology for a page-by-page plan for the book
The ladder is an organizational device that helps determine the number of pages in a book and the content for each page and can become the blueprint for the yearbook - a ladder includes the number of pages for:
• Opening theme
• People section
• Sports section
• Ads
• Index
• Color pages


Designing a mini-yearbook

Building a mini-yearbook

Presenting a mini-yearbook

Presenting your work