From Scott Geesey, CJE

The Online Yearbook Information Center

from Jostens Yearbooks of central and northern Pennsylvania

"You do matter, we are interested in you, and we're going to tell your story."

Last updated May 24, 2020

Check out all of my exclusive online instructional videos by clicking on the link in the left column below. I've compiled a long list of videos to tackle all of the top subjects in yearbooking - writing, photography, design, organization, journalism, promotion, book and ad sales and more. Just turn on your speakers and I'll do the teaching, with nearly all videos under 15 minutes each.

WORKING YOUR NEW 2021 THEME: It's Easier Than You Think

Hello! Here in Pennsylvania where I live we're getting to the end of the school year, although for many students working from home they may have ended already. This has to go down as the most challenging spring ever for students and teachers....and parents and everyone.

I know there's been a LOT of frustration out there - for this year's graduating class who had their big finish cheated from them, for teachers forced to work from home under nearly impossible conditions, for kids missing their friends (and no computer screen or phone can replace actual person to person contact.)

Sure, technology today is great. We're Zooming or Skypeing or Facetiming to stay in touch but it's just not the same. BUT now online learning has become part of the future by force and it won't go away. Instead it will be the exemplary school that will find ways to mesh physical and virtual learning to not just survive but actually thrive in education.

We at Jostens have stepped up our game and I look forward to seeing what we'll have in the future, not only regarding new tools and features to use with the yearbook but also how we can further help schools, students and staff. We've already launched out new yearbook virtual signing tool to allow ANY student ANYWHERE to get those prized messages from their friends to insert into their own book. And there's more to come.  

Coming next week - my annual summer update and I'll pull out my crystal ball for a look ahead to the future. We'll see if you agree with my predictions...


If you've missed some of my past home page stories from 2019-2020, they are archived for you to check out anytime. Click Here to see the rundown.


Developing a good theme with your yearbook makes for a better product...and it's just more fun...

I've already started working with some schools on their 2021 custom cover design. Our awesome Jostens artists have been doing live online cover sessions for years but NOW it's really being utilized as many are still stuck at home

And a WHOLE LOT more will join those first schools because this will become the main way to create a cover this year. Our hard working folks are about to become a lot more hard working as we undoubtedly set a new record for virtual sessions this year.

So they'll have a cool cover and theme - but then what? It's been my experience over 20+ years that the great majority of yearbook staff will never get their theme past the cover. The inside of the book will look as it's always looked, year after year. Same layout, same order, same topics, essentially only the pictures change.

Many years ago I actually had a school whose yearbook looked exactly the same every year - same exact layouts in the same exact places. Back then they had their football players do some old fashioned football poses (charging the camera, looking mean, etc.) and they had different boys do the SAME poses EVERY year.

Perhaps it wasn't a surprise that their yearbook sales began to slump - why buy a new yearbook if it's exactly the same as last year's? And the year before, etc.

Working your new theme in the book is one way to liven up the effort and give your yearbook buyers a fresh new edition every year. And it's EASY to do when you follow just two key words...

VERBAL: This is all about words, and usually every custom cover has a theme statement. How can that title and those words be used on the inside of the book?

Here are two other key words: direct and indirect. First - how can we directly use the words in the theme title? Let's say the theme is "It's About Time." The direct words there are Time and It's About. Where can we use Time in the book? And for different spreads a headline could be "It's About Football" or "It's About Homecoming."

Indirect usage is a little more fun. What words have something to do with time? Maybe: clock, watch, hours, minutes, seconds, stopwatch, countdown, etc. Using the word Time over and over would get monotonous - what other words can be used?

We would probably want to use these words in headlines or subheadlines. Maybe you could find some usage in recgular body copy and captions but beware: if it feels like you're forcing the words in you probably are. Back off and stick to main areas.

VISUAL: Here's the other main element to utilize on the inside. Think about the key items pictured in the design, logos or art pieces or colors. How can we use those on your pages?

Once again we have direct and indirect. You could directly use cover elements on your page layouts, in various ways. Whatever colors are used on the cover design are also used inside. Whatever font style is used on the cover is also used inside.

Many folks think a font style is a verbal element - after all it shows words. But notice that every font is different, like indivifual works of art. Fonts are all about visual so choose your fonts carefully and don't overdose on them by using dozens of fonts all over the book. Keep your font usage list rather tight, and consider using a font family which has different versions of the same font.

As for indirect, maybe along with the main colors used select some other colors that work well with those main colors. If you have some main logo or art element on the cover, what are some other ones that are related to that main element? How can they be used on pages?

WHAT TO DO NOW: As we're all stuck at home we can still start to plan your theme and how to uze it in your book. After your group decides on a theme title, grab some paper and draw a line down the middle - Verbal on one side and Visual on the other. Then add Direct and Indirect in each column.

Then let the brainstorning begin. How may different ideas can you come up with? You don't need to ultimately use them all but compile a nice long list.

Then it's all about how they can be used in the book. Have a lot of fun with this, get everyone contributing. A well developed theme helps to pull all the parts of the book into a cohesive whole with a similarity of design and usage. And it makes for much better designed yearbook.


The Yearbooking Report Podcast, May 2020

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The Yearbooking Report Video, May 2020

Click here to watch the entire video series

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