Posts by Balfour Yearbooks

Get ready to #celebrateyearbook with National Yearbook Week

It seems there’s a national week for everything these days: National Headache Awareness week (June 4-10), National Split Pea Soup Week (Nov 12-18). There’s even a week to recognize handwashing, which we fully support (in case you were wondering). But the week we look forward to the most here at Balfour is National Yearbook Week, and it is taking place next week, October 2-6!

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first full week of October as “National Yearbook Week” to recognize the important role yearbook serves in our lives. An excerpt from Proclamation 5703 states: “School yearbooks not only chronicle educational achievement and school tradition but are a part of them. For nearly two centuries American students have produced yearbooks to commemorate the accomplishments of the school year and to compose a lasting record, written and pictorial, of campus, classmates, teachers, and school staff.”

Join us for a fun week of contests celebrating National Yearbook Week. Simply follow us on Twitter (@BalfourYB) or Facebook (BalfourYearbooks) and tweet or post your photo each day with the hashtag #celebrateyearbook. One lucky staff will take home a $100 gift card each day.

Monday, Oct. 2- “Show us your Selfie”

A yearbook wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the dedicated individuals who serve on the yearbook staff. So get creative, and take a “staff selfie” to show off your staff’s personality.

Tuesday, Oct. 3 – “Show us your Space”

We know you spend just as much time in the yearbook room as you do your own room, so we want to see your space! Send a photo of your yearbook classroom or workspace.

Wednesday, Oct. 4 – “Show us your Spines”

Yearbook spines, that is! Line up your yearbooks and send us a photo of all your old volumes. The school with the oldest volume 1 yearbook spine wins!

Thursday, Oct. 5- “Show us your Snacks”

What fuels your yearbook staff? Show us the fun foods that get you through those tough deadlines and all-nighter work sessions.

Friday, Oct. 6- “Show us your Support”

We know creating a yearbook takes a village, so show us your support system! Send a photo of your adviser, principal or another individual in your school who goes above and beyond to help with the yearbook.

Winners will be chosen by Balfour’s Marketing Team and recipients will receive a $100 Visa Gift Card. Here’s a recap of the daily contests you can hang in your classroom.

Be sure to check your email and our social media page Friday for a BIG yearbook week announcement you won’t want to miss!

The 5 people you need in your yearbook network

We’ve said it before: It takes a village to make a yearbook. From coordinating school pictures to designing and editing pages, a yearbook’s production requires a team of talented and dedicated individuals. Recruiting interested students, parents and faculty members is crucial, but don’t overlook these additional players you need in your yearbook network–now.

The Principal

This one may seem obvious to most, but making sure your principal is involved in the yearbook process is key. Meet early in the year to discuss last year’s book and any expectations for this year. Be sure to verify the estimated shipping date and make sure it works with the end-of-year schedule. Discuss deadlines and ask for support in getting everything turned in on time. The principal may be able to encourage other faculty members or parents to send photos during crunch time. Be transparent with the budget as well, discussing the importance of selling yearbooks throughout the year. Consider asking the principal to help promote the yearbook by sending an email to parents from their school address. Principal emails have been shown to increase yearbook sales, especially just before price increase time or the book sales deadline.

The Front Office Staff

Everyone from the receptionist to the school counselors is vital to the success of the yearbook program. Introduce yourself to each and discuss your goals for the year, like spelling everyone’s name correctly and increasing sales. The front office team serves as the school gatekeeper, so arming them with as much information as possible is important. Provide a sheet listing the price of the yearbook (and student ads, if applicable), how to purchase and the sales deadlines. If you have copies of last year’s yearbook left over, give a few to the front office staff to show parents who visit the school. The reception area of the school is a great spot to leave order forms or display an eye-catching table tent as parents enter the school.

The Webmaster

Make friends with this person to get book or ad sales information added to the school’s homepage. Balfour provides free web banners you can provide to the webmaster, along with the direct link to purchase a yearbook on or a link to a custom PDF order form parents can return to the front office. If your prices increase throughout the year, it’s important to provide new order forms or sales information to this person so they can update the site accordingly.

The Custodian

If you are a classroom teacher, you know how important the custodians are to your success. Not only do they restore your classroom to normalcy after deadline all-nighters, they also let you into locked rooms when you forget your keys. Don’t forget the impact of a handwritten card—or a slice of cake during a celebration.

The PTA/PTO President

Whether you’re creating the yearbook as a parent volunteer or as a classroom teacher with a staff, be sure to reach out to the president of your parent-teacher organization. They have a direct line into the buyers you are trying to reach—parents! Provide them with as much information as possible about sales, book prices, deadlines, photo & design opportunities, and watch your yearbook network grow.

How to choose fonts that showcase your theme

Slim and sleek? Bold and brash? Quirky with a kick? Choosing fonts has everything to do with the look and feel of your theme.

First, it’s important to understand the different font types and when to use them.

Serif: This font type originates from ancient Roman carvings. Serifs are small marks or “feet” at the end of each letterform. These fonts work best for large blocks of copy, such as feature stories.

San-Serif: With no serif at the end of the letterforms (san literally means without in French), these typefaces usually have no visible thin or thick transitions. These fonts work best for headlines, subheads and captions.

Slab Serif: Similar to the serif but with a heavier weight, usually rectangular in shape. Slab serifs have little to no thin or thick transitions. These fonts work best for headlines.

Script: Script typefaces emulate cursive writing and hand-lettered type resembling the look of a calligraphy pen or brush. These fonts work best for accents and headlines.

Decorative: Also called novelty or display type, these typefaces are fun and distinctive. The styles have an artistic flair with personality. These fonts work best for headlines or large call-out text. Warning: Use this type of font sparingly.

While it is not necessary to choose one font from each category above, certain styles pair best with one another. For instance, a light and airy script pairs well with a thin san-serif. Avoid choosing two of the same styles of fonts, such as two serifs or two san-serifs. You may even find a single font family with enough weights and contrast to do the job of all the fonts in your yearbook. For more on fonts, check out this great guide to typography.

Set the tone by selecting a typeface that showcases your theme’s personality. A classic theme might lend itself to serif and modern serif type. A slab serif type would be a great way to visualize a bold theme.

Familiarize yourself with type options by going through the Balfour Font Guide. The guide features more than 300 typefaces, separated into four type categories: serif, sans & slab serifs, handwriting and decorative type. The guide features all 26 letters of each typeface as well as examples of the font in sentences and sample headlines. The back of the guide has an education section to provide additional knowledge on type classifications, weights and spacing. As a Balfour customer, you received a copy of the Font Guide in your 2018 Planning Materials. Not a Balfour customer? Check out a preview of the Font Guide here.

And if you haven’t heard, there are 16 new typefaces added to the Balfour font family. Here’s a listing of the fonts and some suggested pairings with some of your favorite oldies.


HIYT: High-intensity yearbook training at Balfour’s Intensity Workshop

High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to get in shape, right? Borrowing the same idea of intense work and intense training, staffs across the country can get their yearbooks in shape at Balfour’s Intensity Workshop. This workshop focuses on three days of immersion in all things YEARBOOK. Yearbook advisers, editors and staff are welcome to attend the workshop, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 30 – Monday, Oct. 2 at the Balfour Yearbook Publishing Plant in Dallas, Texas.

Your classroom time features a lineup of award-winning advisers and Balfour experts who are in tune with industry trends and yearbook award standards. These fine folks will help you and your students polish & refine the plans for the 2018 yearbook. Intensity instructors include:

Samantha Jo Berry teaches at Bridgeland High School in Houston. She received the 2015 Pathfinder Award from the Texas Association of Journalism Educators and was recently named as one of 13 recipients of the Rising Star Award from the Journalism Education Association. Her students’ publications have received numerous awards from CSPA, ILPC and JEA.

Judi Coolidge retired from teaching after 35 years at Bay High School in Ohio and has worked as part of Balfour’s education and marketing team for the past eleven years. The books she advised won 28 All-Americans and Gold Medals, NSPA Pacemakers, CSPA Trendsetter and Gold Crowns and a Publisher’s Industry Award. Coolidge received NSPA’s Pioneer Award, CSPA’s Gold Key and JEA National Yearbook Adviser of the Year. She is in the Great Lakes Interscholastic Press and the Scholastic Journalism halls of fame and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar.

Annie Green is a Certified Journalism Educator and National Board teacher in the Pacific Northwest. She has been teaching 22 years in the Snohomish School District and is currently advising yearbook and online newspaper at Glacier Peak High School. Her students have earned national awards and strong critiques for their yearbooks. Green is excited to share innovative theme, coverage and design ideas to help staffs create their best book ever.

Kel Lemons fell in love with yearbook at 16. More than two decades later, she has her dream job as Balfour’s Key Account & Education Manager. Before joining Balfour, Kel was a newspaper and yearbook adviser for 12 years in Texas. Her publications at Connally High School and Rouse High School won numerous ILPC Stars, CSPA Crowns and NSPA Pacemakers. Kel’s love for design and photography was heavily influenced by her first job as a newspaper photographer at the Waco Tribune-Herald. When she’s not working, she’s usually curled up with a good book or the latest Entertainment Weekly. Kel’s only slightly addicted to thrift shopping, house renovations, Whataburger and Law & Order reruns.

Michael Pena is a high school photography teacher at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas. Pena helps high school students find a passion for photography and graphic design. As an instructor and public speaker, Pena takes on the role of counselor, mentor, and most importantly being a good role model for today’s youth. After all, he was voted most friendliest for his senior class.

Kristi Rathbun, CJE, advises The Black & Gold yearbook, The Rock student newspaper and rockmediaonline at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, CO. For over 20 years, she has helped journalists achieve state and national success in student media. Her students have earned All-Colorado Awards from Colorado Student Media Association, Crown and Gold Medalist recognition from CSPA, Pacemaker and All-American recognition from NSPA and a number of Best of Show honors at national and state conferences. Rathbun speaks at national and state conventions and workshops helping students and their advisers build solid programs in multiple media platforms. Rathbun currently serves as the CSMA Advocacy Coordinator and Colorado JEA State Director; she was selected as a JEA Distinguished Adviser in 2014 and received a CSPA Gold Key in 2016.

Sarah Tricano has advised Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy’s Tigrium, a Silver Crown and Pacemaker finalist, K-12 yearbook for the past 7 years. She also teaches photography. She has taught sessions at national and state conventions, as well as workshops across the country. She also teaches advanced yearbook topics with a focus on refining design and finding inspiration in the world around us. Before becoming an adviser and teacher, Sarah worked as a design professional at multiple high-end interior design firms in New York. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University and master’s degree in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. degree in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently the president of the Florida Scholastic Press Association.

In addition to learning from nationally recognized trainers, networking with peers and refining your yearbook, attendees will be in Dallas during the annual State Fair of Texas, which celebrates all things TEXAN. You and your staff can choose to take in the sites, rides, live music and check out the world’s largest Texan, Big Tex. Enjoy deep-fried concoctions such as Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly, Deep Fried Peaches & Cream, Chicken Fried Bacon and much more.

Attendees will stay at the conveniently located DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas—Love Field, which is just across the street from Love Field and 10 minutes from downtown Dallas.

Balfour’s Intensity Workshop will rock your world and your staff’s world. The 3-day immersion in all-things-yearbook will help you and your staff create the yearbook of your dreams.

To find out more about Balfour’s Intensity Workshop and determine if it’s suited to your staff’s needs, contact your Balfour representative.

How to prep for school picture day to save time (and your sanity) around deadlines

School picture day is a rite of passage for students across the country. Page after page filled with smiling faces is what makes a yearbook so timeless. As the yearbook adviser or coordinator, doing a little planning before picture day could save you days—if not weeks—of work later in the year. Here are some tips to consider before, during and after school picture day to maximize your time and save your sanity.

Plan Ahead

Start by doing a little legwork with your school’s front office. What photography company do you use? Similar to yearbook companies, photography companies also have representatives who work with your school to coordinate picture day and delivery. Request contact information for your rep and reach out to introduce yourself before the big day. It is helpful to use this opportunity to:

     Ask when you can expect the portraits to be delivered

     Ask if portraits will be sent via disk or digital download

     Request large-format picture sizes to prevent print quality issues (640 x 800 pixels) 

If you are an elementary school and you intend on using the professional group photo for each class page, it is vital to confirm the group photo date now and when you can expect the digital files. Many photography companies do not release the digital files for group photos, or they are taken too late in the year to meet publishing deadlines. If you find yourself in this situation, picture day is perfect for snapping your own class photo after the students file through the line for individual shots.

Before picture day, decide what your class pages will look like. Do you have space for candid and quotes? Gather these on picture day while students are waiting in line for their portraits. Click here for yearbook question ideas for students.

Lastly, contact with your school’s administration and ask for their support on picture day for getting the teachers and faculty to sit for their individual portraits. Some principals will be eager to help as they also use these photos in the school. Collaborating on this will keep you from hunting down teacher photos at deadline time.

School Picture Day

Plan on getting to school early to meet the photographers and the photo representative. Putting faces with names is helpful for building a great working relationship with your rep. (They can save you in a pinch!) If you are not able to be there the whole day, ask for volunteers from other parent volunteers or your yearbook team. As teachers are bringing their classes down, ask for their support in checking the spelling of student names on the namecards provided by most companies. If a student’s name is misspelled, mark the change so the photography company can update the student record before it makes its way onto the portrait disk.

As students are filing in, have your camera ready to capture candid moments. Write down the names of students and their classroom teacher or grade so you can refer back and easily sort the photos after the day is over. If you plan to fill extra space in your yearbook with Q&As and quotes, now is the perfect time to gather this information. Not sure what to ask?

As mentioned in the planning phase, if your photographer will not release or you cannot get the group shots of the classes in time, today is an excellent time to grab the class and have them pose for a fun photo outside on the playground or in front of the school. Doing it now will save you individual trips to every classroom later in the year.

Let students know yearbooks are on sale by handing out order form. The more opportunities to promote the yearbook the better.

Does your school do something special in the yearbook for the oldest grade? Using picture day to capture those additional poses or quotes is ideal. See examples here.

Wrapping everything up

You’ve survived picture day! It may have been an exhausting experience, but you’ll thank yourself later, we promise. Be sure to send a thank you to the administration and teachers for their help. Being visible and proactive in your communication helps get teachers on board with the importance of yearbook.

Before you relax and get back to your normal routine, be sure to immediately file portraits into folders by teacher or grade. Transfer any quotes or caption information into a place for safe keeping (if using StudioWorks, enter caption details directly in the image description.)

Take time to follow up with the photography company representative to confirm retake day and the delivery of the portrait images. Mark your calendar so you can easily remember to reach out if you have not heard from them by the date promised. Note: It is best practice to only use the photos provided after retake day. Doing this allows the photo company to resolve duplicates and ensures you have a more complete and accurate collection of student images.

Feeling accomplished yet?