It’s all about people – Part 2

Getting more students in the book should be a goal of yearbook staffs, but it also comes with a dilemma. How do you actually do it without adding pages? The people section is the answer.

In this second part of a Tuesday Tip devoted to the people section, we’ll tackle the design and theme needs. The people section is the perfect opportunity to include more students in the book, connect to the theme and provide fun, entertaining coverage. This section includes the portraits of students, faculty and staff. But it should provide more than just mugs. The people pages should feature student and faculty profiles, connect to the school year and include a healthy number of stories and secondary coverage packages.

 Design multiple people templates

To make the people section appealing, try mixing up the content. With so many blocks of portraits, it’s easy for readers to skip over pages. But if the design varies from spread to spread, the reader is more likely to remain interested and look deeper into the content.

While it is easier to run the same one or two sidebars throughout the people section, this choice lacks creativity. The same design over and over lends a monotony to the feel of the book. Mixing up the designs provides a fresh approach that encourages more interactivity.

Strive to create people templates with different sizes of portrait blocks and varied shapes for editorial content. Consider using an entire page for stories and sidebars on one spread while only stripping out two or three rows of portraits on another. Vary the design more by creating vertical content openings and horizontal ones. On some pages, create the editorial space on the top left page while on another spread, utilize the bottom third of a right page.

The various size spaces will lend themselves to more story and sidebar options. If you have a whole page to work with, design a feature profile with a long story and dominant photo. Or run several mini-profiles with accompanying photos or cutouts. Removing two rows of mugs from the bottom of facing pages lends itself to a series of cutouts and quotes or small photos and quotes. A half page is an ample amount of space to feature a new club or an academic class that wasn’t covered in a previous section.

Smarter coverage

As the staff plans the space on each spread, think creatively about what will go in those spaces. Strive to move past generic questions that could be in any yearbook and any year like “What’s in your bag?” and “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Instead, connect to your students, community, school and pop culture. Write profiles on students with cool hobbies or who excel at something outside of school. Run cutouts of the best tacos, ice cream, coffee or slushies; include quotes with the corresponding food or drink. This is a great opportunity to feature students in the book who aren’t involved in clubs or sports.

If you struggle with enough space to cover academics and clubs, use some of your people space to give those classes and organizations more coverage. If you couldn’t include a foreign language spread in the book, consider a half page feature on the food students made in Spanish, French or German class. If there are several small clubs that don’t warrant a whole page or spread, try creating a sidebar that features one or all of them. Even a sidebar with small pictures, quotes and the headline “What do you love about your club?” works.

Just as you mix and matched the templates and the content space, use the same approach for the design of stories and sidebars. Avoid running the same sidebar design over and over again. Try a mixture of looks – use a module from an earlier part of the book or create new secondary coverage packages. Strive for a mixture of feature stories, Q&As, mugs and quotes, polls and mini-stories. The more variety, the more likely students will remain engaged and read the content.

Connect to the theme

The people section is an integral way to connect to the theme again. Brainstorm words or phrases that emphasize the theme and incorporate them into the headlines and sidebar concepts. For example, if your theme was “More to the Story,” a first-person feature profile could be called “His story,” “Her story” or “My story.” A sidebar on homework and procrastination could be named “More or less.” A timeline of a single day could be titled “Never enough hours in a day.” A two-part story package could be “He said/she said.”

You don’t need to overwhelm the reader with numerous verbal connections to the theme on every spread. One sidebar headline on every other spread or every third spread will work.

In addition to the verbal aspect, designers can connect visually to the theme. As in other parts of the book, readers should be able to see the theme in the typography, color and graphics. As in previous sections, this should be seen on every spread in the people section.

 The more, the merrier

As you design the section, think strategically about how many people to include. Often, staffs create sidebars with fairly large photos and type that only features one, two or three students. Using smaller photos and 8, 9 or 10 pt type allows packages to include five, six, seven or more students.

For example, removing two rows of mugs from the bottom of a spread will allow seven to 10 cutouts or small photos to run with quotes. Replacing two or three columns of portraits on the outside of a page provides a skinny vertical space. This is perfect for a single question with multiple responses, allowing for up to 20 answers in one or two columns going down the page. A whole page devoted to content could include a feature story on one or two students, a sidebar with four to five people, and a skinny quote sidebar with 10-15 answers. Now, that’s more coverage.

When it comes to the people section, it’s essential to think creatively about the coverage. We want to extend coverage of the theme, include multiple students and provide fun, engaging content. It’s about more than the mugs —it’s about the people.