Rules You Can Break for Your Yearbook Layout Design

For both newbies and veterans in yearbook layout, the rules in designing the high school yearbook used to be so simple that compliance was relatively easy. But times have changed

Outdated rules in yearbook design must be broken, as you don't want to stagnate

and the traditional rules for yearbook layout are now being challenged by cutting-edge young designers whose tools of experimentation include digital technology such as computer software.

Nowadays, your 2012 high school yearbook can look as different from your parents’ high school yearbooks from the 1960s as apples are to oranges.

Here are examples of a few rules that have been broken to great results.

Consistency in Internal Margins

The consistency of internal margins in every page was a cardinal rule in the design of yearbook layout. Its rationale was that the spread looked consistent, orderly and uniform to the eyes and, hence, more attractive. Such was the strictness of this rule that you can take a ruler to old yearbooks and actually get consistent results on the internal margins!

But you can choose to play with the margins in two ways. First, do away with the margins so that the edges of the photos or the text become the margin, so to speak. Second, play with the margins so that you have unevenness such as a wavy margin, a crooked margin, or overlapping margins.

The beauty about using digital technology when designing the yearbook layout is the opportunity to experiment with just a click of the mouse. No erasers, no pushing around cutouts, and no messy revisions required. The result: a high school yearbook with lesser levels of stress placed into its publication but with better results.

Use Lines for Division Between Elements

The traditional rule goes along these lines: Lines must be placed so that the linkages between elements in a page or in a spread can be broken. This is all well and good especially when the yearbook has different sub-themes within a general theme.

But this rule has been broken by many magazines including sports magazines where even the photos must tell a story – an action story, at that. The lines in modern yearbook layout encourage eye movement across the page in the same way that a painter uses lines in his work of art. The reader is then led from one element to the next within a single spread using these lines, which is in stark contrast with the use of lines to provide division between elements.

Stick to Five Photos for Every Page

Aside from the text, the photos also serve an important function in a great yearbook layout. The quality and quantity of the photos must then be carefully considered lest the page appears too crowded or too sparse.
And speaking of quantity, one of the traditional rules in yearbook layout is to use just 5 to 7 photos within a single spread. This is being broken in many ways including:

• Using one dominant photo of a student and then placing a smaller photo beside it with the text written in first-person narrative style.

• Using as many as 12 photos within a spread with each photo having the appropriate caption so as to lend a touch of individuality and importance to each picture.

What about you? What other rules of yearbook layout are you going to break?

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