Blog | Deciding on a Theme

October 21, 2019

Deciding on a Theme

Deciding on your theme could take the whole year if you let it, you will need to decide and commit in order to move forward with your yearbook.  A theme will provide you with guidance as you move through the process of organizing and designing your book. 

But before we go too far, we need to ask ourselves; what is a theme?  A theme is an idea or concept around which the design of the yearbook will be built.  It should capture the mood and climate of the school year. Remember to keep it appropriate and to represent the students.  The theme can be a verbal statement, like a word or phrase or it can be visual, using colour and design to define the overall look. 

You can find your theme in a multitude of places.  Does your school have a phrase for the year? Check out Pinterest for inspiration.  Magazines, movies, books, music and advertisements can provide insight into popular culture and the latest trends in graphic design.  Spend some time researching so you can generate a list of ideas to get you started. 

A theme will be introduced on the cover and then should flow through the entire book.  It should continue to be visible on the endsheets, divider pages, backgrounds, page titles and folio tabs.  Use colours, fonts and graphic elements to help shape your theme. It’s also a good idea to have a small write-up at the beginning of the book that introduces the theme and a small write-up at the end that wraps it up. 

Avoid making the following theme mistakes.  It’s never a bad thing to draw inspiration from other yearbooks but it is a bad thing to flat out copy it.  Your school is original, and your theme should reflect that. Try not to pick a generic theme, which is a theme that doesn’t relate to your school.  Ask yourself, could your theme be used at any other school in any other year? If it can, try to personalize it to your own school or look for another idea.  Make sure that your staff buys into the theme. If they’re not invested in it, it may be difficult for them to develop the theme or to stick with it. Finally pick a theme that isn’t too sophisticated for the average reader.  It should be something that everyone can relate to and is accessible to all students. 

You now have a list of themes and it’s time to decide which one to use.  To make a final decision a great exercise is to record all the ideas. Talk through each theme, some will quickly sink, and others will float.  Not every idea will work with the theme you choose but write them down for future use. If you can reach a consensus, great! If not, have groups take the top ideas and present each one as they would appear throughout your book.  Take a secret ballot vote to decide on which theme should be used. Whatever you pick for your theme, remember to keep it consistent.