The yearbook represents a vital milestone, and yearbook layouts must highlight the lessons and fond memories graduates will take with them in the next chapter.

Penji academy yearbook on a wooden table

Once students have earned their diplomas and said goodbye to the classroom for good, all that’s left to look back are wonderful memories. And it goes beyond collating graduation photos and quotations. At Harvard, for instance, there’s a whole non-profit student organization dedicated to preserving the memories of each class at the university.

A tangible object that will remind them of their learning years is a treasure – and that’s why yearbook layouts are so crucial. 

In fact, some of our clients here at Penji ask us to create yearbook layouts that don’t only look good but also tell a story. After all, graduates will revisit these tomes during reunions ten, twenty, even fifty years down the road. And the design should hold up and create an impact even after all those years (the quotes might be a different story).

season 1 pilot GIF by mom

How do you Layout a Yearbook?

A yearbook’s main function is to record and commemorate the past academic year. In that sense, the layout should highlight the people and events without overwhelming the reader. 

Though yearbook layouts, templates, and other instant solutions are a-dime-a-dozen online, going down that route might not be optimum. After all, you’d want to inject as much personality as you can into the yearbook

Man holding a 2024 Penji academy yearbook

What was the school year like? How did it feel to be learning and making friends then? 

Here are a few elements to keep in mind when you’re brainstorming for custom yearbook templates:

  • Grid 

A layout grid is the rows and columns where you can organize content. The placement of photos and text, as well as their distance from one another, largely depends on the style you’re going for. 

  • Typography

You need a cohesive style for the whole yearbook. That said, you need to set the typeface you’ll use for titles, subtitles, in-paragraph text, and any other element. It’s best to use fonts that don’t clash with one another. Otherwise, reading the book would be an overwhelming experience.

  • Image Style

You may want to add effects to photos, or you may not. In the same vein, you may opt to use background images or patterns on the pages. Whatever you choose, the image style can do a lot to set the mood of the yearbook.

  • Visual Motif

If the image style is Batman, the visual motif is Robin. Visual motif pertains to repeated visual elements that give the yearbook a unique look and feel.

  • Safety Line and Bleed Area

The safety line is the margin within the page where you can place all the important text and images. If you want a photo to extend to the edge of the page without surrounding margins, then you should place the image beyond the safety line and along the bleed area.

What are Some Themes for Yearbook?

Whether you’re looking for printed yearbook layouts or virtual yearbook ideas, we rounded up the most interesting ones online. Take a look at each and let them inspire your layout design!

1. A Day in a Life

yearbook layout example showing a day in the life of students

Though big events are the usual highlights of a yearbook, it never hurts to add a page or two showing a normal day during the school year. For instance, this example from Shutterfly shows a regular day in the classroom. The pages like these will make students reminisce about their life back when they were in school.

2. Go for Some Action

yearbook layout example showing athletes and games

There’s nothing like a big game to unify the students and make everyone cheer for the school on top of their lungs. Bring that action into the pages of the yearbook, just like this example from Shutterfly. The layout included action shots and emphasized stellar photojournalism. In addition to that, the simple background made way for the photos to stand out. 

3. Add an Unexpected Element

yearbook layout example showing yearbook photos and full body shots

Here’s one of the high school yearbook layout ideas students would love. Add an unexpected element to the page, just like this example from TreeRing. Below the usual grid of photos is a strip of images showing students’ full body shots. That alone transformed the layout from drab to fab! 

4. A Palette that Complements the Layout

yearbook layout example with a cool color palette

This example from Shutterfly features a simple layout featuring a straight grid of photos. Despite the straightforward layout, the color palette added interest to the look. The contrast of indigo and cream, paired with pops of aquamarine, made the pages a beautiful thing to look at.

5. Make Graduates Feel Like Celebrities

yearbook layout example with a magazine-like template

Give the students a celebrity treatment by including a few pages with a magazine layout, just like this example from TreeRing. This especially looks cute for events like the prom or the school fair. Also, it would be a great idea to throw in an interesting article from the campus journalists for extra value.  

6. Choose the Right Motif

yearbook layout example with cool graphics

We’ve talked about visual motifs earlier, and this example from Shutterfly shows how to use them best. The round stickers showing a calculator, an apple, and a magnifying glass add a dose of character to the whole layout. The great thing about this style is, you don’t have to use the same images over and over again. You can use different images with the same clipart style inside the same round sticker, and they would still look cohesive.

The Takeaway

Yearbooks are as good as time capsules. That said, the layout should work well to tell a story and make the tome an awesome piece of memorabilia any student would love to revisit now and then.

Need help with yearbook layouts? We, at Penji, can do it for you! We offer unlimited graphic design at a flat monthly rate. So, you can have all the designs you need without spending an arm and a leg. From digital yearbook and book illustrations to content marketing design ideas, we’ve got you covered!

Here are some of the layout designs we’ve done in the past:

penji portfolio
penji portfolio
penji portfolio

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