A comprehensive guide to proofing your yearbook

Proofing your yearbook - image

(updated on 25 October 2016)

Oh, that’s exciting – your yearbook is almost done and it will be sent to print in no time! But wait, there is just a last step you need to go through, a BIG one. You have to proof and approve your book carefully.

You must be thinking: “Great… But how do I do that?” That’s when this article comes in. We came up with a comprehensive guide to proofing your yearbook. Not only because we want you to feel relaxed about this, but also because we want you to have a full publishing experience – just like a pro!

Take some time to follow these steps and rest assured that your yearbook will shine like it never did before!

Preview your book on screen first.

If you’ve used Fusion in the past, you’ll see that we’ve streamlined this part a bit. The idea is simple: go to Preview mode by clicking on the toggle button that is at the top right of your Create sectionSwitching between these 2 modes will allow you to make a first review of your whole book on the screen. You’ll be able to see how it looks like and to fix the little things you see on the go.

proffing your yearbook - edit-to-preview-800px

At this stage, it’s all about:
– Making sure that all your team requests have been added
– Making sure that the overall design is OK

There’s no use for you to check every single detail at the same time. It’s better to proceed step by step and to keep image quality control, spelling and grammar for later. Does that work for you? Ok, let’s have a look at the things you can check on your screen.

01 – Make sure all your team requests are updated

During the yearbook creation process, you and your team might have noticed a few things like:
> The Principal has not approved his editorial yet
> The Deputy Principal’s photo is low resolution, please make sure to change it before sending to print.
> We’re not 100% sure of the names of John Smith and Sarah Connor on page 44.

Before checking anything else – even before you generate a PDF proof – we recommend you check if all those changes have been made. It took some effort for your team to review everything, you wouldn’t like to disappoint them with an embarrassing omission, right?

Special tip

Have your team compile their requests on a shared document.
This will be very handy to make sure everyone has been heard.

02. Check the general design

> Does everything fit nicely on the page?

This is the question you need to ask yourself when flipping through your yearbook pages. To help you with it, I recommend you activate the Danger Zone.

In the first example below, we didn’t take the Danger Zone in consideration. As you can see, there’s some important content in the red area, which is dangerously close to the edge. On the second example, we fixed it so you can see the difference.

Why is it important to use the Danger Zone?
Because if you don’t, the content that is in this area might be chopped off during the production (or absorbed by the binding). Click on this link to know how to make the best use of the Danger Zone.

Proofing your yearbook - danger zone


Proofing your yearbook - danger zone 2


Special tip

To make your content fit within the Danger Zone, try resizing the photos, and reducing the font size or volume of body copy.

> Are there any overlapping elements?

Sometimes, layering elements on your page can add a nice design touch. However it is also important to make sure that elements, text boxes and images don’t disturb each other. In the example below, notice how the photo strip frame is almost touching the text. The text is also running off the white block and is hidden by the circle and the triangle elements on the bottom right.

Proofing your yearbook - overlapping elements


Proofing your yearbook - overlapping elements 2


Special tip

proofing your yearbook - back forward

To change the layer of an image, simply select your image and click on the options. Click on Back or Forward to move through the layers on your page.

> Is your text readable?

With great freedom comes great responsibility. People try crazy things with text customization and it could happen in your team. Readability should always be an important criteria in design, so make sure you check the following points:
> Font choice: keep it simple for the body copy and be creative with titles.
> Font size: is the text too big, or too small? Are there too many variations on the same page?
> Font colors: are the background and the font colors complementary? Is it still readable?

If you’re looking for examples and tips about this, read our guide to yearbook fonts.

In the example below, we’ve used a bright color on a bright background. Then, we changed the text color to black. What looks more readable to you?

Proofing your yearbook - text readability 2


Proofing your yearbook - text readability


Special tip

proofing your yearbook - colours

To change the color of your fonts or blocks, simply select them and click the color palette button.

> Are your pages too busy… or not enough?

“Why would I put only 3 photos when I can add 40?” That’s a common question for Fusion users, because the only limit is what you decide to do. Take any of your favorite magazines to see how layout design works. Photos are large and text is short. There aren’t dozens of photos on the same page. They all have room to breathe.

Back to your book. Are your pages too crowded? Are the photos large enough? Is every single paragraph really worth the message you need to deliver? In the example below, you can see the difference.

Proofing your yearbook - white space


Proofing your yearbook - white space 2


Special tip

If you have plenty of content about a topic, it’s always better to spread your article on multiple pages.

> Are all your elements properly aligned?

If your blocks are not well aligned, your page won’t look totally finished. Take a look at any newspaper, book or magazine: alignement reflects professionalism. In the example below – and believe it or not it’s often the case on profile pages – you can tell that the first one doesn’t look as slick as the second one. What do you think?

Proofing your yearbook - alignment 1


Proofing your yearbook - alignment 2


To align your elements, select them one by one, resize and move them around using the guides that appear in the editor.

Once you’re done with these details, have a look at your book again.
Does it feel better? Then, let’s move on to the next step.

Generate a Low-Res PDF to proofread your pages comfortably.

You did a good job with the first step. Now time has come to generate a Low-Resolution PDF. You’ll be able to download this file on your computer and share it with your team so everyone can help. At this stage, you’ll have to proof read everything. Again, each step focuses on something special. This one is all about the copy. So please keep the image quality control for later and stay focused.

So go on the Preview mode. Scroll down a bit and here is what you’ll see:
– The possibility to add and customize page numbers
– The possibility to add and edit a footer text

proffing your yearbook - page-footer

Once you’re done with the footer and page numbers, you can generate your Low-Res PDF by clicking on Create Low-resolution PDFs on the right, as seen on the image below.

proofing your yearbook - generate-low-res-pdf-proof

What to check on a Low-Res PDF proof?

Once the PDF proof is ready (this might take a few minutes), you’ll be able to download it on your computer.

Note: there are 2 files for you to download:
– Click on Pages to download your inside pages
– Click on Cover to download your cover pages

Why 2 files instead of just one? 
It’s simply because the cover pages are printed separately from the rest of the book on a different machine and on a thicker paper.

Once your PDF proof is on your computer, open it with Acrobat Reader (or any other PDF viewers). First things to check here:
– Make sure all the pages are here and in the right order.
– If you have set up pages numbers or/and a footer, make sure they appear correctly.

proofing your yearbook - 2 pages view

Special tip

proofing your yearbook - preview set up

Make sure you change the page display to Two Page View. This way, you’ll be able to see your pages in spreads.

03. Check your cover

Proofing your yearbook cover remains essential: this is the first thing people will see of your book. Here are the things you need to check on the front and back cover:
> The readability of your title and slogan (see text readability tips above)
> The spelling of every single word (especially your school name, the text on the spine and your school contact details).

Note: you can’t check the quality of your images at this stage (photos, illustrations, logos, etc.). Why? Because it’s a low-resolution PDF. So keep in mind that you’ll need to do it after generating the final PDF (it’s all explained at the end of this article).

Proofing your yearbook - cover

04. Check all the text

What could be wrong with your text? First, you want to get rid of any spelling, syntax or grammar mistakes. As your yearbook will be read by entire families, all of this needs to be perfect. Remember the yearbook is also representing the school.

The rest is more about readability – again – and design. Make sure your team chose readable fonts for the body copy, as well as contrasting colors. Finally, try to get rid of any orphans and widows. These are the words that stand alone at the beginning or end of a column or paragraph (see example below).

Proofing your yearbook - texts 3

Spelling, Syntax & Grammar

Proofing your yearbook - texts 2

Readability of your copy

Proofing your yearbook - texts 1

Orphans and widows

Special tip

To proofread your text, we recommend you print your PDF on your home or school printer. It will be easier to step back, see how your pages read and put some annotations.

05. Check your profile pages

Checking the profile pages requires some help. Have each teacher proofread the profile section of their own class. They know the students, the spelling of their names and are the best person to spot any little mistakes. Here are the things you want them to check:

> Profile order
: do you want to order the profiles by first name or last name? This is something you can fix in a single click when you generate a profile section.
> Spelling mistakes: if a mistake sneaks in, once the yearbook is printed, it will stay forever. Ask your faculty for the official lists of students to compare – or ask teachers for help.
> Inappropriate content: simply type “funny yearbook quotes” in Google and see what you get. You’ll discover some stories that went far beyond the limits: explicit content, mean attitudes, etc. Before your yearbook gets some bad press, make sure everything is appropriate.
> Font size, number of photos, number of students per page, etc: if the questions and answers don’t fit properly on your page, you might have to change the specifications and regenerate your profile pages (see example below).
> Bad cropping or missing photo: please refer to the official student lists and double check with the teachers.

Proofing your yearbook - profiles 1


Proofing your yearbook - profiles 2


Special tip

To make everything fit on the page, you can try to reduce the font size or the number of profiles per page.

Finally, generate and approve your final high-resolution PDF

Your low-resolution PDF looks good?

06. Confirm that your low-res proof is OK to access the next step

To do this, click on Order Now at the bottom right of your screen, or on Order in the left menu. This will bring you to the order process, which is the only place for you to generate and approve your final high-resolution PDF.

proofing your yearbook - start-order-process

You’ll land on the order process. Before generating your final high-resolution PDF, you’ll have to go through 2 steps:
1 – Confirm your order and printing options (number of books, add-ons)
2 – Confirm your delivery details (contact, date, address)
3 – This is where you’ll be able to generate and download your final PDF.

07. Generate and download your high-resolution PDF proof

Click on Create a Print Ready PDF and wait until it’s ready (it takes a few minutes). Once done, click on Pages and Cover buttons to download your files. Your PDF will automatically open in a different tab or window.

proofing your yearbook - generate-print-ready-pdf

Again, you will have access to 2 files, the cover pages and  the inside pages. Download them on your computer by clicking the buttons Pages and Cover. Then, open the files using Acrobat Reader or similar.

08. Check your images

Your school memories are all about the images that are in the yearbook. This is the first thing everyone will look at on distribution day and they will probably do the same in 20 years. That’s why checking your photos is so important and it can only be done one the high-resolution PDF. Here are the details you want to look for:

Proofing your yearbook - photos - 1

> Example 1: check the photo resolution
Most people take pictures with their mobile phones. Which means there is a risk of poor quality. The best way to spot the low res photos is to open your high resolution PDF at 100%. It will give you an idea of what each photo will look like once printed. If a photo is too pixelated, you should replace or delete it, unless you can’t get your hands on a higher resolution version or you don’t have any other choice than keeping it like that. In this case we recommend you try reducing its size as much as possible can by selecting and resizing your image on the page.

Proofing your yearbook - photos - 2

> Example 2: check the cropping
Members of your team might have dropped their photos in the frames without paying attention to the cropping. If you think that a photo would deserve a better crop, just do it. This is especially important on portraits where it’s nice to stay consistent.

Proofing your yearbook - photos - 3

> Example 3: fix stretched photos
On this example, you can see that the user has stretched the photo to make it fit in the frame, and it doesn’t look very professional. To fix it, simply double-click on the image and resize the photo holding down the ’Shift’ button on your keyboard.

Proofing your yearbook - photos - 4

> Example 4: fix photos that are too bright or too dark
A lot of people collaborated to this project. You received photos from dozens of people – tech savvy or not – and some of their photos might be super bright or too dark. Well, you can use our photo editor to make them better for printing.
Advanced tip: you can also create your own effect and apply it to multiple photos to add some flair to your pages.

09. Last quick check…

I recommend you check a few things one last time on the high resolution PDF:
– Spelling and grammar on the most important pages (cover, contents page, principal report, etc.)
– Page order, page numbers and footer (make sure it matches the table of contents)
– Are there any unexpected alignments, line spacing or broken fonts? In very rare cases, it can happen when a PDF is generated.

10. Approve your book to print

When you’re done with the last check, you can simply approve your book to print. To do this and complete your order, please click on Yearbook is ready to print and refer to this article.

proofing your yearbook - submit-book-to-print

Well, I think we went through the major steps! Don’t forget to submit your oder in step 4 and just keep an eye on your delivery date. As reminder delivery usually takes 3 to 4 weeks after your final approval.

To proof your book in optimal conditions, I would advise you stop looking at it for a couple of days. This will allow you to take a step back and finish everything with a fresh state of mind. Then, follow the steps and don’t do everything at the same time: it’s better to check one point at a time – or to dispatch them within your team. Finally, try to involve people that have nothing to do with the project so you can have their feedback, fresh and honest opinions.

Fusion’s team is here to help! If you have any questions or doubts during the approval process, feel free to contact us. If you have any other comments or questions, please let me know below, I’ll answer right away. I hope this helps!

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After a degree in corporate journalism and 4 years in a publishing agency in Paris, Julien fell into digital. Passionate about content in general, he loves turning good ideas into practical tips & tricks. That's just one of the things he does at Fusion Yearbooks, as a Digital and Content Manager.

Australia's #1 Yearbook Company