Posts in category Coverage & Design

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.


8 essentials to Jedi-mastering your yearbook theme

Light vs. darkness. Nature vs. technology. Fate vs. destiny. Good vs. evil. The underlying themes of “Star Wars” are woven into the story, giving it meaning.

And while yearbook themes are not quite as dramatic, they do follow the same Star Wars logic. A theme is the central message of a yearbook, with elements working together to support it. Patterns and ideas come up frequently to reinforce the concept. The repetition of words, colors and graphics gives the theme meaning.

So what’s the best way to develop a yearbook theme? Let’s begin with a little Jedi yearbook training:

1. Pick a word or phrase that embodies this year. Build the theme around changes happening, a word that represents your school or a fun phrase that connects with the student body. Choosing a theme that fits your school is a really big deal. A school going through transitions could choose “Shift,” “Go with it” or “Variations.” A school spirit theme could focus on the name, school colors, mascot or street: “Traits of a [mascot here]” or “We are [school name].” A fun or catchy phrase can lend itself to cool theme ideas: “Life as we know it,” “It is what it is,” or “Say what?

2. Create a logo to visually convey the theme. Select fonts that show the personality of the theme concept. (Hint: the font book is a great resource!) Use only those fonts throughout the book. Sketch or design the placement of the theme word/s and share with your rep so the cover artists can expand on the look.

3. Choose colors. Think about the personality of the theme. Does it call for school colors? Pastels? Bright, bold colors? Do you plan to use set colors throughout the book or pull spot color dependent on the dominant photos?

4. Select a graphic element that visually extends the theme. Look at magazines and Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Think about lines, bars, circles and other shapes. Check out our post on supercharging your yearbook theme with visual validation. 

5. Brainstorm verbal connections. Carry out the theme with verbal reiterations of it. Think of words, phrases and synonyms that reflect the theme. Play off of individual words or the whole theme phrase.

6. Create secondary coverage packages that connect to the theme. Use the verbal ideas to flesh out sidebars that bring another layer of coverage. If the theme is “Life as we know it,” a module on the football spread could be called “Life as a…” and then feature players in different positions (quarterback, receiver, left tackle, center).

7. Consider a whole-book link. Whole-book links are small connections to the theme that run on every page or spread of the book. Often these are pictures or quotes that link to the theme idea.

8. Incorporate the theme into the folios. Adding the graphic element into the folios,  or page numbers, is a simple and subtle way to showcase the theme on each page.

Enough training for one day? Discussing these theme elements with your staff will ensure you’re on your way to being a Yearbook Jedi master. As Yoda says, “Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.”

Maximize your index’s potential.

IndexThe index is the first place students look because they want to see what pages they’re on. But if you wait until spring to run the index, you’re bound to have mistakes and missing information.

To alleviate final deadline stress, consider tagging names throughout the year. A smart way to do this is right before pages are submitted. It’s also an opportunity to double check that names are spelled correctly and include the right grade. Consider giving staffers a grade solely based on name and grade accuracy.

Run the index after completing the people section. This is where staffs see the most name discrepancies. Often students go by a nickname that’s not reflected on the official school portrait. Running the index early can catch these doubles and help consolidate the listing to one version of the person’s name.

Use the index as a marketing and sales tool. Post the index outside the yearbook room to show students how many times they’re already in the book. Send coupons or buying reminders to students who are in the book, but haven’t bought one yet.

Let the index guide content. Compare the index to the sales list, noting what students have bought a book but aren’t included yet. Share that info with reporters and photographers, making those buyers a priority. Similarly, note what students have already reached the max number of times in the book, and strive to select other people in photos, stories and captions.

Another layer of coverage: Indexing classes, clubs, events and sports helps students find them in the book. Considering bolding those entries in the index or creating additional lists for each category as a reader service.

Blended Coverage

8Nov16Blended coverage provides an alternative way to cover academics, clubs and sports in a more balanced and realistic way. It’s also allows coverage of multiple groups in less space.

The most common ways to blend coverage are by chronology or similarity. A chronological blend explores what happens on a given day, week or month. A December spread might focus on studying for exams, semester end projects, Christmas parties and holiday volunteering opportunities. A blend based on similarities provides a topical approach. A game day spread could feature fans, cheerleaders, athletic trainers, football managers, the band and the dance team.

Employing a blended coverage approach provides more balanced and realistic coverage. It moves the focus to actual activities classes and clubs do, eliminating dull meeting and classroom photos. It also allows more active groups to receive additional coverage spread throughout the book.


Consider these blended coverage ideas:

  • A November spread could feature class projects, the final district football game, things to be thankful for and Black Friday shopping.
  • A projects and presentations spread allows multiple academic classes to mingle on the same spread and creates better picture opportunities.
  • A fundraiser, T-shirt or holiday party spread could focus on small clubs that don’t have big events or activities.
  • A volunteering and leadership spread would showcase organizations which take a strong role in student government or participate in volunteering opportunities.
  • Freshman and junior varsity teams could share space on the same spread, substituting the traditional story for mini-stories, Q&As or quotes to provide coverage for two, three, even four or five teams.

Not sure how to get started? Learn the step-by-step process of blending coverage and see examples of blended coverage spreads.

Election Coverage

Every four years we get a chance to focus on a bit of national history in our books. And this year will no doubt be one of the most historic and talked about elections. Whether you include a simple survey or devote two pages to the 2016 Presidential Election, have fun with your coverage and design. Consider these possibilities:
  • Poll students on who they would have voted for
  • Write a feature about the seniors who volunteered on a political campaign
  • Interview students who voted for the first time
  • Gather opinions on the results of the election
  • Create a timeline of the most interesting and unusual soundbites from the election
  • Explain the Electoral College through graphics and text
  • Utilize an artist to create drawings, painting or computer-generated art of the candidates and the parties
Still need ideas? Check our Pinterest board for suggestions including recent coverage and yearbooks’ spreads from previous election years.