Would you like to know how to make your yearbook an entertaining publication? Add a little laughter!
What relieves stress, boosts your immune system and enhances teamwork? Laughter of course! The positive effect laughter has on our lives is undeniable, and it should be encouraged everywhere from the courtyard to the classroom.
But what about laughter in the yearbook? Yes please! Letting your yearbook reflect the school’s playful side is a great way to introduce humour in the yearbook. The yearbook coordinators Meg C. and Esther C. at Newman College made this happen. Together they created a student written publication that truly is entertaining. Want to know how they did it? Keep on reading!
As your Yearbook Editors’ Report reads, you started with the goal of publication. I must say that you’ve achieved much more than that! Your yearbook truly is entertaining from cover to cover. Did you plan for this when creating your yearbook?
Yes, we always envisioned for our yearbook, the Vestra, to be filled with humour in order to reflect the lives of students at our college. As it is a student created publication, written by and for university students, much of the content we included is very light-hearted and “banterous”. Historically, the Vestra began as a satirical student publication that has evolved to be more formal, so I suppose the tone of the yearbook reflects the format of previous years.
A lot of your content are things you wouldn’t find in a regular yearbook. For example you have a test themed “Which Newman building is your spiritual home” and a hilarious guide on “How to make day-kid friends without looking like a serial killer”. Where did you get the ideas for the content?
The content is a result of the wonderful work of all the individuals who offered to write us articles throughout the year. We may have provided general prompts for article ideas, but the students came to us with their pitches for articles and we just ran with it.
There are quite a lot of different writers in your yearbook. As you say on your first page “this range of articles did not just materialise, much as we may have wished that it would”. How was the process of creating and collecting all the content?
At the start of the year, we set up a calendar for all of the events to come throughout the year – sports, balls, camps, performances, competitions. We then formed a committee of students willing to write articles for all the events. This required keeping track throughout the year of all the articles coming in and making sure nothing was missed. One of the challenges we faced was motivating our peers to write articles, especially with demanding university timetables. But everyone came through for us with articles as promised. A very important part of the creation of our yearbook was working with the photography committee to ensure we had excellent quality photos taken at all events that were made easily accessible to us, a database of photos featuring all students of the college.
Let’s dig a little deeper into content collection. Two funny favourite articles of mine are “Newman Confessions” and “Overheard at Newman”. How did you organise the content collection?
We basically set up a Facebook page where all members of the college could post overheard quotes daily. This kept awareness for our publication and created excitement for the students. On another note, we created a competition where the students voted for the funniest overheard quote, in order to inspire all students to contribute to the page. As for the confessions, we had an anonymous dropbox that students delivered their secret confessions to.
To illustrate your the “Embarrassment Scale Guide” on the “Newman Confessions” page you’ve used some of the elements available in the yearbook builder. Using elements is no exception for the rest of your yearbook and it’s really fun to see how you’ve added them to illustrate the pages. Could you tell us a bit more how you did this practically?
We’ll have to admit it took a few days to get the hang of how to layout pages. We found we preferred to create our own templates manually rather than the provided templates, just as it gave us more freedom to work with our content on the page.
To break down the yearbook building process, we divided our content into sections – committee reports, sports, events, features, banter and profiles. We started with coming up with a general template to be used as a divider page, going with three diagonal colours across the page, a banner heading and a picture in the middle. For each section we stuck mostly to a similar colour palette, for example the sports section is all very homogenous – pastel header, same font, two columns and photos at the bottom of the page.
We made the events section full of colour, elements and photography. As there was no written content in this section it meant we could go all out with graphic design.
In other sections we had a little bit more fun with different layouts, and relied mostly on trial and error. It really came down to experimentation, trying out as many options as were available. Although it may seem daunting, making pages from scratch allowed for a lot of fun and we came up with layouts that felt like our own personal flavour. Just before our final approval of the project we went through every page and altered any aspects of the layout we were not happy with.
Are there any benefits to having original and entertaining content in your yearbook?
Yes, definitely having a broad range of writers who created funny and entertaining content was paramount to making sure we made our target for sales of our yearbook. The Vestra is a much-loved tradition of the students, and it’s really important to make sure the yearbook is both entertaining, but also of sentimental value to the students.We like to think we achieved this.
Time for some final words. What tips would you like share with other yearbook coordinators that would like to create entertaining content that’s ‘outside the box’?
We really can’t take all the credit for entertaining content. All we can say is trust your students. Challenge them to write something outside the box. They are certainly capable of coming up with some great material, if you give the freedom to do so.
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