National Buy Your Yearbook Day: Here are the contests!

It’s almost here! National Buy Your Yearbook Day (NBYYD) is Wednesday, October 25th.

We created this day to designate a special time of the school year to focus specifically on yearbook sales and to allow schools to join with other schools in a coordinated national event. Schedule your main yearbook sales period around NBYYD and build excitement and a sense of urgency for the yearbook.

This year we have four contests you can enter. Two lucky winners will be named in each category and will receive a $100 gift card!

CONTEST 1: Staff Spirit

We want to see your staff’s spirit and enthusiasm! Wear your staff shirts and snap a creative photo showing off your love of all things yearbook.



CONTEST 2: Who’s your PAL?

Grab your principal and post a pic of him/her helping your staff promote the yearbook.



CONTEST 3: Lights, Camera, ACTION!

Create a video to help promote your yearbook, and post it on your school’s website or social media page. Send us a link (or tag us) so we can see your hard work. Remember to keep your video short & sweet–and extra points if you make us laugh!


CONTEST 4: Spread the word

How do you promote your yearbook? Show us your best and most creative marketing campaign techniques. These can be created at a very low-cost and include techniques like homemade flyers and posters, sidewalk chalk, and social media posts.


How to enter

You can send us your submissions in two ways:

1) Submit Entries via Social Media: Post your submission on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #GottaGetAYearbook and the category.

2) Submit Entries via email: Entries can be submitted to our email address with your school name and category.

Winners will be announced on Thursday! Learn ways to promote NBYYD on your campus.

How to handle missing student portraits when designing class pages

Once school picture day has come and gone, many yearbook staffs are busy considering how to display all those smiling faces. A common question we get is, “How do I handle students who did not sit for their official portrait?” Do you ask parents to send in a photo? Do you leave them out completely? Is there a middle ground?

The short answer is yes.  There are many solutions to consider depending on the goals of your yearbook and the amount of time you can dedicate to the work needed. It’s important to be as inclusive as possible, giving those who were not able to attend picture day or who moved in after, a chance to be featured. Why does this matter? Having the most comprehensive student coverage is good for sales and marketing of your yearbook. Here are a few steps to achieving a comprehensive student section.

Deadlines Dominate

Before deciding on a solution, consider the publishing deadline for your portrait pages. This will help eliminate and consider specific options.  If you commit to tracking down and photographing every student, chances are you’ll be inserting student images into your pages moments before you publish, and that may not work with your school’s production schedule. Work with your representative on a solution that marries your needs with the needs of your delivery date. If your portrait pages are due in early February, give teachers, parents and students a deadline one week prior to your official publishing date as a buffer.

Choose a solution

Here are some options that work well for schools:

1. If you are showcasing students by teacher, it’s easy to print out your pages and hand them to the teacher with this attached checklist. On here is a space for teachers to list the students who were not photographed. Work with your administration to pull students from classes or lunches and take their snapshot to be included in the yearbook. Choose a neutral background that will coordinate well with the professional photos taken. Individual students can be added to the software and added automatically to the class or teacher pages where they belong. Not sure how to accomplish this? Give your account executive or our tech support team a call.

2. Consider asking the teachers for a list of students without photographs and display their names under a “not pictured” section on each teacher or grade page.

3. Some staffs choose to have fun with the blank “not pictured” spaces by incorporating their theme. Be sure to consider space limitations and whether including a “not pictured” graphic will push your portrait count past the page count allotted.

4. Another fun idea is creating a page or spread in your yearbook for new faces. This solution is inclusive of both student show missed picture day and those who moved in after their class pages were published and otherwise would not be listed in the yearbook.

Communication is Key

Be sure to let teachers, faculty, and sometimes parents know the plan and protocol for getting their students’ smiling faces in the yearbook. Put together a policy and post it on your school or staff’s website where parents locate ordering information. Also be sure to set expectations that sending in photos only applies to students who did not take their professional photo. Offering to replace photos for all student is not advised.

Check the ‘do not publish’ list

Schools and districts across the country must comply with the FERPA act, allowing parents to opt out of having their student’s information and photo from publication. Start early investigating how your school handles this issue. Some parents sign these forms, not realizing it excludes them from the yearbook as well as other digital publications. Here’s a handy form that can be used to contact parents and verify their intent.

Being inclusive is important, but setting a deadline, choosing a solution and clearly communicating the plan will save you time and sanity as you prepare your portrait pages for publication. For more information, check out page 28-31 of your Balfour Adviser Guide.

Widening the gap: How increasing external margins has a big impact on design

External margins are the areas of white space that frame the spread. The margins are there to keep staffs from designing elements too close to the edge of the page. But the default settings are very small. In StudioWorks+, the external margin is two picas (this is the yellow border on the layout below). In InDesign, it’s three picas. With six picas in an inch, this is only one-third to one-half of an inch of white space, a very slim margin. In all honesty, it’s just too small.

With our natural tendency to design all the way to the edge of the content area, this creates a very crowded page. All the elements seem crammed in with little room to breathe. If the margins are increased slightly, then the elements inside the content area would not be so close to the edge. Suddenly, they have room to breathe and the page has more flow.

A healthier margin is four to five picas (maintaining one to two picas for the inside margin near the gutter). This change has a minimal impact on the content while having a maximum impact on the look of the page.

Advisers often ask how to improve their books or how to win awards; changing the margins is a huge step in the right direction. Look at nationally award-winning books and you’ll notice they don’t have tiny margins. They have nice, fat wide margins that give additional white space around the spread content.

So, how do make this change?

In InDesign, it’s simple. You adjust the margins by going to the Margins and Columns option under the Layout tab in the Menu bar. (Keep in mind, you’ll need to break the link icon to make sure it doesn’t adjust ALL the margins. Otherwise, the inside margin will be four picas too.) We suggest anywhere from four to five picas for the top, bottom and outside margins. If you prefer symmetrical margins of equal space, set the top, bottom and outside margins to the same number of picas. If you like additional space for a larger folio, add an extra half to full pica to accommodate. Some staffs prefer a middle ground and will use 4p6 for all the margins or 4p0 for top and outsides and 4p6, 4p9 or 5p0 for the bottom for a little more cushion.

In StudioWorks+, it’s a little different but still possible. While you can’t make the yellow portion of the layout bigger in SW+, you can create bigger margins in three possible ways:

Option 1: Add multiple columns and rows to create a grid. The vertical and horizontal rail closest to the yellow margin is the extended margin. To ensure it is equal spacing all the way around, use a grid that creates squares, not rectangles. Also, to make sure the new margin isn’t too large, you’ll need a lot of rows and columns. To create a grid, go to the Full Menu Options icon (the one with the three horizontal lines and go View>Preferences. Under the Guides tab, select no Grid and adjust the number of columns and row spacing. The number of rows will have to be slightly larger than the number of columns. (A few suggestions: 17 columns and 14 rows, 19 and 16, 22 and 19 or 24 and 21.) You can also adjust how large the space is between columns and rows, often called a gutter. In StudioWorks+, it’s referred to as column spacing and row spacing. Since there are more columns and rows, consider choosing a smaller amount of space like 6 or 9 instead of 12.

Notice how the grid closest to the yellow margin at the bottom does not contain any content. This helps in creating a wider margin.

Option 2: Place an outlined box or individual lines on the preferred margin and let students know they should not design past those lines. Use a bright color like red or orange to make it really noticeable. You can lock these lines/bars or place on the master pages. If you go with this option, make sure to remove the box or lines before you submit pages to Balfour.

Option 3: Use the document grid to establish a wider margin. Under the Full Menu Options icon, go to View>Preferences>Guides. Select the Small (pica) option which provides a 1-pica grid. Using the 1-pica grid, decide how many additional picas of margin you want past the yellow area. An extra pica would provide a 3-pica margin, two picas would be a 4-pica margin. Let students know they should skip one, two (or however many picas you designate) past the yellow area when they place photos and text. Photos that bleed off the page would still go to the outer edge of the yellow border. If you feel it’s necessary, add a box or lines along the pica grid to make the new border clearer to students. Just as noted earlier, make sure to delete before hitting submit.

Adding this small bit of white space is a simple way to improve the design of a spread. It makes the pages feel less crowded, lets elements have a little more room to breathe, and provides a clean look. It’s the little details that can make a big difference in a yearbook.

Leander High School is a StudioWorks+ book that uses grids to create a wider margin instead of using the 2-pica default margin.

Turn your fans into photographers with ImageShare

When the bulk of a yearbook is photography, it can be stressful ensuring every event is covered. And that stress can be exacerbated when it turns out photos are blurry or poor quality. Having another photo source can relieve some of that stress. ImageShare can help.

A free Balfour app available on iOS and Android mobile devices, ImageShare allows people outside the staff to share photos right from their mobile device. The app is free and available by searching for BalfourImage Share in your app marketplace. It allows anyone in the school community to share photos right from their mobile device. Contributors also have the option of uploading photos from their computer by going to

Yearbook photographers can’t be everywhere, so this is a great way to ensure all school events and activities are covered. It’s also a nice back-up when staff photographers miss a crucial shot, have poor images or not enough photos of an event.

As a bonus, the ImageShare app is an opportunity to get students and parents excited about the yearbook. Students are more likely to buy books if they know the games and events they’re at are being covered. Plus, advertising the app is another way to market the book. The more students are reminded about ImageShare, the more they’re reminded about the yearbook.

To get started, advisers should contact their yearbook representative or account executive to set up an ImageShare account. Then, use this customizable ImageShare flyer to spread the word. Note there’s a place on the flyer to fill in your project number and if you choose, an upload code. Your school community will need this information to create an account.

Once they’ve created an account, they can start submitting pictures. Up to five photos can be uploaded at a time and captions can be added as well. Images should be in JPEG or PNG format and must be 20MB or smaller.

The uploaded images are automatically delivered to your school’s StudioWorks+, myYear or BalfourTools yearbook project. Advisers and yearbook staffs can review all the photos and determine which ones will be used in the book.

If you’ve been stressing about yearbook photos, it’s time to relax. Let ImageShare take some of that photo stress away.



Hold a sale on National Buy Your Yearbook Day!

The first week of October was National Yearbook Week, a tradition started back in the ‘80s when Ronald Reagan was president. But National Buy Your Yearbook Day is a Balfour tradition and one of our favorite dates of the year. Oct. 25 is a chance to focus on sales and build excitement about the book.

With two weeks until Oct. 25, the staff has plenty of time to create an awesome marketing plan for National Buy Your Yearbook Day. Here are some fun suggestions:

Get your principal involved. Nothing says yearbook support like your principal showing some love for the staff. Ask your head guy or gal to wear a staff T-shirt on NBYYD or a hold sign saying “Buy your yearbook.” Plan ahead and have the principal record a sales pitch that goes out to parents through the phone system. If you have a broadcast program, have the principal be part of a fun advertisement. Take a picture of the principal with previous copies of the yearbook and add it to Twitter and Instagram.

Recruit your mascot. Don’t let the fun stop with your principal. Convince your mascot to don his uniform for the day and support the yearbook. Have him a wear a placard with the yearbook website or hand out coupons. Take pictures of the mascot holding last year’s yearbook and plaster on social media.

Give a discount or freebie. Offer a cool promotion on NBYYD. Consider a discounted price or a free nameplate or name engraving. Throw in a free icon if they order a nameplate or offer free autograph pages or a YearZine with their book.

Sweeten the award. If you can’t afford a discount or freebie, consider a different type of thank you. Or make this the cherry on top. Ask staffers to donate individually wrapped candy and give a piece to each buyer. Ask online buyers to stop by and pick up their sweet treat.

Consider a giveaway. Let students know anyone who purchases on NBYYD will be entered in a giveaway contest. Draw a name for a free yearbook and if possible, consider smaller prizes too like Starbucks gift cards and colored pencils. Have staffers pool together money for the smaller prizes, all items students could use. Make sure to advertise the giveaway well in advance and be sure to note all previous buyers will be included as well.

Put social media to work. Ryan Gosling yearbooks memes are legendary. Liam Neeson ones aren’t bad either. Use them to get the word out. Use other tweets and posts to remind students of the upcoming sales date and all the fun promotions you’re offering. As students buy books, take their picture and feature on your social media sites. Include the hashtags #GottaGetAYearbook and #NBYYD with your posts.

This is just a start. It’s up to your staff to collaborate on great ideas to help sell your book. Once you have a game plan, let your school know as soon as possible. Build excitement on social media and at school with announcements, posters and other visuals.

It only happens once a year, but it is one of our favorites. Have fun on National Buy Your Yearbook Day!