8 essentials to Jedi-mastering your yearbook theme


ight 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.”

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