Interview with the St Mary’s College Hobart Yearbook Coordinator

St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - Header

What can a style guide do for your yearbook? Not only does it help you create a beautiful and consistent publication, but it also saves you loads of time!

When yearbook coordinator Melissa M. of St Mary’s College Hobart started the 2015 publication, three things were important to her: Their beloved principal would receive a proper farewell, the book was going to reflect the students’ hard work and all this should be showcased in beautifully designed pages.

Since many people were participating in the yearbook, they created a style guide with everything from fonts to colours, but with the flexibility of being creative too. In addition to this, a very special surprise was planned for their principal. Keep on reading to find out more!

St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - Cover

It’s impressive to see what an amazing farewell you’ve included in the yearbook for your principal Mr Dorey. Was this an important aspect when you started creating your yearbook?

I was really pleased with how everyone reacted to the farewell for our outgoing Principal, Mr Dorey, in the 2015 Yearbook, but most of all, I was excited by Mr Dorey’s reaction! He was a well-loved Principal of St Mary’s College for 10 years, so it was important that we acknowledged his service in the Yearbook and this was at the forefront of our minds when planning for the Yearbook began.

He is a very modest man, however, so he was very much against us making a big deal about his farewell and he certainly didn’t want to be the centre of attention. This was difficult to accommodate, as the community wanted to celebrate his service, and he always gets the final look over all College publications, so surprises are difficult!

In the end I got the idea across the line by promising that we wouldn’t include an extensive collage of photos of him, but the students wanted to farewell him appropriately over a couple of pages using their own words and work, and I had some special student artworks in mind for the front cover… but we would like this to be a surprise! I knew he would be much happier with this approach and that it would also be more special and sentimental. I asked one of the Year 12 students who assisted with the Yearbook to take charge of the dedication pages for Mr Dorey, giving her a folder of drawings and quotes from students. She looked at the themes in the other pages in the Yearbook and came up with a design that complemented these, using the existing text templates for inspiration.

St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - 14-15_MrDorey

You can tell that Mr Dorey was much appreciated at your school. It’s literally the first thing you see on the cover! Could you tell us a bit more about how you organised the many hand drawn portraits and how you came up with the idea?

Knowing Mr Dorey’s love of student artwork, I thought it would be a nice touch to get a selection of students from across the junior grades (Kindergarten – Year 6) to draw a picture of Mr Dorey, along with a sentence on the back about what they will miss about him.

We picked this age group as the drawing was easy to include as a class task and they are quick to finish a drawing. Also I picked the younger students as I’m always amazed at how they manage to capture the look of someone in their simple drawings… even though the drawings can look quite humorous and nothing like the subject at first as they haven’t worked out body/facial proportions yet in their drawings. I thought a wallpaper design approach would enable me to include as many different drawings as possible and keep people looking at the cover for a while as they spot new drawings.

I asked each class teacher to get their class to assist with the task and then scanned a range of drawings from each of the classes. If I were to do this again, I would request what type of drawing materials the students used as scanning pastel and charcoal drawings can get messy! I opened all the scanned images in Photoshop to quickly convert them to grayscale images to make the overall look more cohesive (and erase any charcoal smudges) and exported them as a jpeg, ready for use in the Fusion Yearbooks program. It’s really handy that you can import your own images on mass into the Fusion program.

“It’s really handy that you can import your own images on mass in Fusion.”

It’s important to make sure the drawings are scanned as a high resolution pdf or jpeg with at least 300×300 pixels. This way they can be resized without too much blurring of the image. I recommend getting a student volunteer to help pick out the drawings, scan them and edit them to chip away at the project over a number of weeks. They had great fun looking at all the pictures.

It’s not just Mr Dorey who’s getting a warm farewell, other staff members who are leaving the school are also honoured. We would love to hear more about how you created the content!

We farewell all staff who are leaving the College in the Yearbook each year. We feel this is important to keep the school community in the loop of staff changes and it’s also a way that the school community can celebrate the staff member’s service, wish them well and say ‘thank you’. We nominate a staff member who has worked closely with the person leaving to write a farewell blurb, as they know them best of all. We give them a word limit and show them past Yearbook examples to help.

St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - 12-13

You also did a great job displaying some of the students’ work. There are some beautiful spreads with everything from short stories to wooden designs. What was important to you when creating those pages?

The Yearbook is primarily for the students, so we think it’s important to celebrate their work. Photos are the best way to do this, after all “a picture tells a thousand words”. We think it’s important to show work from a range of grades, not just the oldest students so that everyone feels like the yearbook is for them.

For our school community the best approach to compiling the Yearbook is to divide up the various sections for different staff and students who know that area best. For example, the art teachers know their students’ work the best, so they are in charge of selecting the artwork for the art pages.

“The Yearbook is primarily for the students, so we think it’s important to celebrate their work.”

We recommended that the Fusion template pages were the best way to do this, where possible, as they give a professional approach to displaying multiple images, rather than an a do-it-yourself collage, as these can have a tendency to look messy at times.

St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - Spreads_StudentsWork

We’re happy to see that some of your spreads look like they got a little help from the Fusion templates. Your class pages at the end of the yearbook look really professional! Could you share how you created these?

I really recommend using the large range of templates provided in the app. We have received so many compliments about our Yearbook since using all these beautiful templates.

You still have the freedom to be creative and make choices, but the end result is far more professional. They are also really easy to use and can be easily adapted by changing colours and fonts. There are even different template categories suited to different sections of your Yearbook, like for photo collages, written reports, contents pages, profile pages and class photo pages. We used a template for the class photo pages. I had a play around with which of these templates would best fit our size of photo and the names. When I was happy with how the page would look, I duplicated the spread to be used for all the other photo pages by selecting the copy page option in the yearbook builder view.

“You have the freedom to be creative and make choices.”

This makes everything so quick and importantly identical across all the pages. All that has to be changed then is the student names and photo with an easy ‘drag and drop’ or ‘copy and paste’ the layout is sorted for you.

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St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - GroupPhotoTemplate

Last but not least, what advice would you give to other schools who would like to celebrate their staff and students in a yearbook?

I highly recommend developing a short style guide that must be followed if you are compiling a Yearbook with multiple contributors. It doesn’t have to be too constrictive, as you still want people to feel that they can be creative, but it would be good to at least choose which fonts everyone should use.

It’s also a good idea to pick a colour theme, as this is an easy way to tweak some pages to create a cohesive look, without changing too much. Just write down the unique code for the colours you want which appears on the colour wheel and use it throughout the book. I also really recommend using the templates provided to help give a professional look to your publication.

We had over 30 people coordinating different pages of the yearbook, all with varying degrees of confidence with technology, creativity and time constraints. Therefore when I initially set up the layout of the Yearbook, I selected a template for each page, with the heading for the page in the font dictated in our style guide. Therefore those individuals short on time didn’t have to hunt around for a template they liked or work out how to change fonts, they could just drag and drop in the photos they had chosen and copy and paste the photo captions.

This made it a much more enjoyable experience, less work for them and less work for me as the editor. Those individuals that were more confident and creative, however, could adapt the page as they liked.

St Marys College Hobart Yearbook - Style-Arrangement

I would definitely recommend Fusion Yearbooks to anyone who is looking to change how they compile their Yearbook. My account manager and anyone who answered my emails or phone calls at Fusion were always really helpful and never patronising if I had missed something obvious. If I had a problem, they were quick to respond and resolve it. Even though I was miles away in Tasmania, I never felt like help was far away.

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Sofia grew up in northern Sweden but longed for sunny days, so after receiving her degree in Communications and Media she jumped on a plane to Australia. She's now a Project Manager at Fusion Yearbooks which she with joy describes as "Managing scrapbooks on a massive scale!"

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