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For other uses, see Yearbook (disambiguation).

A yearbook, also known as an annual, is a type of a book published annually including to record, highlight, and commemorate the past year of a school . Virtually all American, Australian and Canadian high schools, most colleges and many elementary and middle schools in those countries publish yearbooks. The term may also refer to a book of statistics or facts published annually.

US and Canada

Elementary and middle schools may have a designated staff member who is in charge of putting together that school's yearbook, with or without the help of the students. These books are usually considerably smaller than a high school or college yearbook.

High school yearbooks generally cover a wide variety of topics from academics, student life, sports and other major school events. Generally, each student is pictured with their class and each school organization is usually pictured. A high school yearbook staff consists of students with one or more advisors; who also hold another position for the school. The yearbook staff can be chosen in a variety of ways, including volunteer-only (its own extracurricular organization), as an academic class, or it could be assigned to the entire senior class.

Colleges that publish yearbooks follow a similar format to high schools. Some include detailed recaps of football and basketball games. College yearbooks are considered by the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) to be a form of journalism. ACP holds the annual Pacemaker competition for college yearbooks as well as other collegiate media outlets.


Yearbooks are becoming increasingly popular in Europe for a wide variety of groups - from primary schools right up to further education and businesses. They tend to be run by a committee of students led by a member of staff, or for younger groups are co-ordinated by a parent or teacher.

Typically they contain a short summary of each member along with their photograph, collage pages and articles, awards pages and farewell messages from friends and teachers. There are a range of companies producing both A4 and B5 yearbooks in the UK currently. Other creation options include off the shelf software, sending hard copy files for a company to compile, or other manual methods.


India is observing Yearbooks being published by both colleges and schools in the recent past similar to the ones done by the US and European universities. A college yearbook is typically done by passing our batch and contains testimonials by friends and also activities, festivals, student bodies. Few of the colleges that publish Yearbooks are ISB, IIMA, IIMC, IIMI, XLRI, XIM and other universities. Typically an Yearbook is printed in A4 or A5 size. One company that is making it more organized in India is India has its share of yearbook publications, be it Penguin's informative "Penguin Year Book" (Editor Derek O' Brian) or Scholastic India's illustrated colour edition or rather competitive exam friendly yearbooks like "Pratiyogita Darpan yeabook","Competition Success Refresher yearbook", Manorama Yearbook & Mathrubhumi Yearbook . India has always drawn readers from various walks of life and it has a good market for yearbooks; not least because digital reading is not yet as widespread In India as in other countries due to the fact that the number of Indians who have access to computer/smart phones is still relatively low and even fewer use e-book readers like Amazon's Kindle, which costs around Rs.15000-25000. However, as the digitally literate audience grows in India, digital media are slowly replacing the print versions of yearbooks - as demonstrated at the recent Book-Fair 2012 in Kolkata, which saw a decline in the numbers of readers seeking yearbooks because of increasing access to news and current affairs via the Internet,news channels etc.


Yearbooks published by Australian schools follow a similar structure to their North American counterparts. Australian yearbooks function as an annual magazine for the school body, with a significant focus on objectively reporting the events that occurred during the schooling year. They cover various topics including academic, sporting, extra-curricular, student life and other activities. Yearbook staff predominantly consist of only one or two school teachers who serve as editors in chief. Australian school yearbooks are predominantly created on A4 paper size, featuring a softcover style front-and-back cover, typically 250 or 300 g/m² density. Hardcover style yearbooks are not as common, although exceptions occur.

In recent years, companies have been servicing Australian schools with online yearbook systems that allow schools to create their yearbooks collaboratively online. This is sold as allowing a higher level of student involvement whilst making the workflow simpler and easier for all involved. Additionally, some schools feature a separate yearbook for students in Year 12.


Australian school yearbooks are primarily published with offset printing technology, with a mix of colour, spot colour, and black and white pages, depending on the school's budget. In the past, Year 12 yearbooks were simply printed using a photocopier, but Australian yearbook publishers have improved the quality of these publications by providing low cost digital printing solutions.

South Africa

In South Africa it is not as common to find yearbooks in schools as it is in countries such as the US and Canada, though there are a number of schools that allocate annual funding and publish yearbooks at the end of the school year (November or December). These yearbooks closely resemble those found in the US, with columns about certain themes, in-depth coverage of major events and large collections of photo's and drawings reflecting daily life at these schools.

Major events covered include Matric Farewell Dances (equivalent to Senior Prom in the US), annual sporting events (such as Inter-schools where a number of schools assemble and compete in various sports as well as with dance routines in competition for spirit awards etc.) and grade group events organized specifically for a specific grade.

U.S. military

Warships of the United States Navy often produce a yearbook style publication upon completion of a long deployment (typically six months or more). These books, referred to by sailors as "cruise books" are produced on board by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department and Public Affairs staff, and then printed ashore by the same printing companies that publish high school and college yearbooks. The cruise book of a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier typically reaches over 600 pages in length, as it includes portraits of the more than 5,000 sailors and Marines assigned to the ship's company and embarked carrier air wing.

The Navy's Recruit Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois also produces yearbook style publications for each graduating division of recruits. These publications are much smaller, as each recruit division totals roughly 80 sailors. The book is called "The Keel" after the part of a ship that is constructed first, as RTC or boot camp sets the foundation for the sailor's career. These books contain a color section common to all books published that year, with a specific black and white section added for each recruit division and their "brother" or "sister" division.

Production and distribution


Yearbooks are generally compiled by a student committee, which may or may not be advised by members of the faculty. The committee usually has one or more editors who are responsible for collecting and compiling all of the information to be contained within the book, also deciding the layout and allocation of space for each contributor.


Most yearbooks have a similar format, which includes individual photographs of students; information on activities; sports; and other activities.

People (seniors, underclassmen, faculty)

In the U.S., where a yearbook often covers the whole school and not just the final year, these sections are arranged in chronological order by class (freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior), in either ascending or descending order. Normally each student will have an individual photo of them accompanied by their name and perhaps one or two lines of text. Senior photographs are usually larger than underclassmen's and are often accompanied by text about their accomplishments throughout high school, and their future plans (if known). Also, (in some high schools) the seniors' photos will be in color while the underclassmen photos are in black and white. Frequently, seniors are polled to nominate their classmates for "superlatives" or "class celebrities" (such as "most likely to succeed," "most athletic," "most spirited" and "class clown"), are often published in the senior section. Some private schools and smaller high schools set aside an entire page for each senior. These pages are sometimes designed by the seniors themselves, with each senior submitting a digital or physical version of the page he or she would like featured in the book.

"Picture Day" is the school day in the United States and Canada when students have their photographs taken by a professional photographer. Parents can purchase packages of these portraits to distribute, often accompanied by other items featuring the portrait. These portraits often go into the school yearbook, which are usually distributed at the end of the school year. The pictures may also be used on student ID cards. There will also generally be a second day to take pictures if the student is absent.[1]

In the UK and other countries, where yearbooks often only cover the final year group and not the entire school, each student may have more space for answers to various questions as well as their photo (or photos). In Year 11 (England & Wales) members are usually grouped by form/class; whilst Year 13 tend not to be grouped in such a way, but instead just appear alphabetically throughout the book. Its common in these markets for each person to have between a quarter and a whole page each, depending on the budget available for the yearbook (as more pages means a higher cost). The editorial team chooses questions for members to answer (such as "Favourite teacher?" or "Where will you be in 5 years time?") and these answers appear alongside member photos. These photos and answers are sometimes also collected online.

Student life

Several pages are often used for pages chronicling activities undertaken by students, such as trips abroad, activity trips, sporting and other special events. These pages often consist of photo-journals displayed with or without captions.

Sometimes members of a yearbook write editorial and journalistic content about life as a student, current events (local, national and international) and other matters of interest to the peer group.

In books having pages in both color and black and white, the photo pages - collages and other groups of photos - tend to be the ones which run in color; the others run in black and white, reducing the publishing costs (and overall purchase price) per book.


Talks about the classes, projects, and more educational aspects of the school year.


This section describes student organizations (sometimes referred to as clubs) and what they do. These descriptions are often accompanied by a photo or photos of the organizations' members. This section sometimes includes a list of the members of each organization.


Often listed by season or club, these pages chronicle the accomplishments of the school's teams. Along with a short article listing the season's highlights, these pages include team photographs and action pictures.

A U.S. high school yearbook includes pages for all levels—varsity, junior varsity, sophomore and freshman teams—of each sport. Outstanding accomplishments are often included in the front section of the yearbook, in addition to their usual page.

Memorial page

Often, students will have to deal with the death of a classmate or teacher due to illness, suicide, accident, or other cause. When this happens, a memorial page may be set aside to eulogize the deceased. The page will usually include a picture of the student or teacher, along with a mini biography, a candid pictures from happier times, a brief article explaining the loss and perhaps an inspirational verse or poem written by a close friend. This page can also include memories from teachers, friends, and or family.

Advertising pages

Many yearbooks gain revenue by including a section of ads from local businesses.

Some schools sell advertisements for seniors. Parents, other family members and friends use these ads to congratulate a senior — or group of seniors — for their accomplishments.


An alphabetical listing of everyone included in the yearbook, along with the pages they may be found on. Usually, an editor keeps a master list of who is included on each page, to ensure accuracy. The index is not always included in high school yearbooks, as it can be time consuming to put one together, but due to advancements in technology, programs such as Sonar Bookends and Webdexer have made the task easier.


Typically the last page of the book, the colophon lists staff members and acknowledgements. This page includes a brief statement from the editor. Additionally, the colophon includes technical information pertaining to the yearbook such as publisher, total number of pages, paper weight, copyright.

Signature or autograph page

Most yearbooks contain a few pages which will be left blank for people to write messages about the preceding year and summer.

Layout and pagination

Layout is the appearance of the pages, and it may include the following elements:

  • The Headline: This is a theme that ties the page into the story and draws attention to the reader.
  • The Story/Copy: Consists of several paragraphs, capturing the highlights of a specific department, sports season, organization, etc., from the past year. Often, yearbook staff members will either send out surveys/interview students, teachers and others for comments.
  • Photographs: Candid shots of students, suitable to the page's topic and theme. Often, editors seek to include a cross-section of the student body (e.g., classes, races, school involvement, etc.). Included with the photographs are one or more captions, which describe each picture; these often begin with a lead-in.

In the past, most yearbooks were laid out by hand, with photographs physically cropped and placed on layout boards. The work was tedious, and required multiple deadlines and contact with a yearbook publisher. Today, virtually all yearbooks are published using computers, which allows for shorter deadlines and easier editing. Some yearbook publishers have agreements with schools, whereby the staff send photos and copy for layout by the publishing company; the layout is later sent to the school for final editing.

Students typically paginate, or lay out, pages using a computer program such as Adobe PageMaker, Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress. Students are quickly able to size photographs and place copy, leaving minimal white space behind. Some yearbook companies provide their own computer programs for designing yearbooks. These programs are designed for easy navigation, copy/edit/paste functions, and more. Some people might just put pictures around the writing or have writing over a picture.


Several software programs exist on the internet to create many yearbook layouts. Features include easy web-based creation of pages, collages, personal profiles, and recordings of specific event situations. These methods of development allow for layout artists, editors, and students to access the layout, speeding up the process of creating the yearbook.

Word processing

Paragraphs of text added to pages, also known as 'copy', are often typed and edited using a word processing program. The copy is then saved to a hard drive or disc and later imported onto the pages. It is also possible to insert a copy straight into the pages, themselves, as they are being designed.


U.S. publishers

Yearbook publishers may send representatives to work with the adviser and staff at each school to assist in the creation of the yearbook.

Yearbook companies typically require that groups of pages be sent periodically, rather than all at once, to the plant. This is done to stagger the work required to complete yearbooks for all the schools they cover. After the editors review each page and make changes, the pages are sent to the yearbook plant – either mailed on a CD-ROM or Zip drive or sent via the Internet.

If the proofing process is not performed on-line, the adviser and editors receive proofs (typically full size prints) about a week or so after the submission of pages. This gives the school a final opportunity to make adjustments or changes. After all the proofs have been returned to the publisher the requested corrections are made, the books are printed, bound, and then sent to the school for distribution.

Some publishers provide designers and production specialists to lay out the entire book. Some provide comprehensive, end-to-end yearbook publishing services for schools without a yearbook staff or advisor to help put together their own programs.

A number of educational institutions and yearbook publishers operate camps and summer sessions at which student yearbook personnel can learn or polish the skills they need in their work.[2][3][4]


Often, yearbooks are distributed at the end of a school year to allow members to obtain the books and signatures/personal messages from classmates. In the U.S., those that distribute at this time may publish a supplemental insert with photographs from spring sports and milestone events (such as prom and graduation) and other important events. Many schools at which yearbooks are distributed at or before the end of a school year have a tradition of having students sign and leave notes on each other's yearbooks.

Some schools distribute yearbooks after the end of the school year – such as in July, at Homecoming (US) in October or another designated time in order to include year-end activities. In some cases, yearbooks are mailed to the parents' homes of graduated seniors.

Digital yearbooks

A digital yearbook is a yearbook holding memories of a given time with a given group of people—most commonly, a school year at a particular school—that exists in digital form.

A digital yearbook contains text, images, audio, and video. While a traditional paper yearbook may contain a few dozen pages, a digital yearbook can contain hundreds or even thousands of pages. The end product of a digital yearbook is either a CD-ROM or a DVD. The first CD-ROM yearbook was created by students at South Eugene High School in 1990.[5]

A digital yearbook page, also known as a DYP, makes an existing yearbook interactive using Portrait Recognition Technology. A mobile application and smartphone or tablet is used to scan a student's portrait. Scanning the portrait will take the student to the Digital Yearbook Page. DYPs contain multimedia content archived throughout the school year. The DYP can also contain links with contact information.

See also

Further reading

  • Akers, M. (ed.), Scholastic Yearbook Fundamentals. 1993. New York: Columbia Scholastic Press Association
  • Blakely, D. and Evans, C., A Complete Guide to Yearbook Journalism. 1991. Sylvania, Ohio: Advise Publications
  • Cutsinger, J. and Herron, M., History Worth Repeating: A Chronology of School Yearbooks. 1996. Minneapolis, MN: Jostens, Inc.
  • Hall, H.L., Yearbook Guidebook. 1994. Minneapolis, MN: National Scholastic Press Association



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