December 02, 2019


The yearbook is a collaboration of many different people, so without guidelines you run the risk of having your book become unorganized and inconsistent.  If set up and used correctly, a style guide will set standards for staff working on different sections, to create a finished yearbook that is cohesive and consistent.  By creating a style guide, you allow the staff to focus their creativity on the content of the book.

Here’s what you need to know about creating and working with a style guide.

1)      Design a sample page before creating your style guide.  This can be done as a collaboration among the students. Figure out what works and what doesn’t.

2)      Include all possible details of your design, including but not limited to, margins, element spacing, headlines, subheading, fonts, colours, design elements and writing styles.

3)      Don’t let staff alter or adjust styles on an individual basis.  Ensure your guide is being followed.

4)      Promote your style guide as much as you can, once created, post it where everyone can see it or print out a copy for everyone to have.

A yearbook style guide provides direction on the design of the book and the way copy content is written.  Let’s work our way through some of the areas where we can set up guides to follow. 

Layout: Layout is a broad category.  It can include the margin measurements.  Whether or not you will use columns and if you are, how many will be used.  The spacing between photos and other elements. Will you space photos 1 pica apart, 2 picas apart or have only a small space in-between?  You can also include where certain elements will be placed. For example; the headline is to be placed, top left, down 2 picas, in 3 picas.  Another way to help your staff, is to create a page template with both your style choices and specific element placement. Consistent spacing across your pages will create a sense of uniformity and balance.

Fonts: Readability of your fonts should be your focus.  When choosing fonts for your book there are three areas to cover.  The font itself, the size of the font and the colour.

Let’s start with picking fonts.  A good rule of thumb is to pick between 3-5 fonts.  You might be thinking, out of the all the fonts available I can only pick 3?!  By sticking to a few fonts, you allow your text to be legible, and 3-5 fonts provides clarity and consistency through all the pages.  When picking your fonts, you need to define how they will be used. Your primary font should be used for headlines, subheadings or page numbers.  Your secondary font should be used for copy elements, like body text, captions and quotes. If you do want to add more fonts, you can use them for subheadings, captions, quotes, page numbers or on special pages, like dividers.  Remember if you choose a font for a specific text element, keep it consistent throughout the book.

Second, choosing the size of the fonts.  This can also include weight, line-height and letter spacing.  The size you choose for each font depends on how you have defined them.

And lastly, the colour of the fonts.  When it comes to the colour of fonts, focus on readability, not on how the colour will work with your theme.

Colour Palette: Like the fonts, we want to choose a pallet that consists of 3-5 colours with the addition of black and white.  We want to pick colours that cause the least amount of strain on the reader’s eyes. After that, choose colours that align best with your theme or design.  By limiting you colour choices you are allowing the content of the book to stand out. To aid you in finding the best colour choices, try using a colour wheel or searching on the internet for premade colour pallets.

Writing: Now that we have covered the design selections it’s time to focus on the writing.  Writing also needs a set of guidelines to keep the text in your book consistent. Work with your writing team and come up with a basic understanding as to what the tone, lingo and voice you’ll integrate into your book.

In addition to your writing style you will want to create some rules on how the layout of your copy is set up.  When students are identified in photos, given photo credit, listed as an author, or provided a quote, how will their names be listed as “Jane Smith” or “J. Smith”?  Will it include the grade (“Jane Smith, 10”)? Other choices to consider: will your text be aligned left, centered, fully justified? Review all the writing and make sure it follows the set of guidelines your team decided on.

In summary by creating a yearbook style guide you are providing your staff with a document that will keep the elements of your book consistent and free up time to focus on the content. 

Below is a sample of a yearbook style guide.