Sidebars and captions – these are two elements of the school yearbook that many staffers think should be given secondary attention while the full-length articles are provided primary attention. This should not be because small sentences in yearbooks can make the biggest impact because the readers can read these elements within a few seconds and then make their judgments. In contrast, full-length articles take a few minutes to read and, thus, may not have as much an immediate impact on the readers.
Here are tips to ensure that, indeed, the sidebars and caption on your current yearbook will have a positive impact on the readers.
In a school yearbook, sidebars refer to the information placed next to a full-length article. These are often separated by a graphic representation (i.e., box) but it has a contextual connection to the article itself. These can be in many forms – quotes, lists and polls – but all of these are usually small bits of information that the readers can enjoy.
Tips in writing the sidebars
• Be specific about the information being provided; general information can weaken the impact of any sidebar. Be sure to use fresh content, too.
• Be focused on a single aspect of the information being presented. For example, proms are favorite topics for full-length articles in yearbooks. The sidebar should then focus on one aspect of the prom – either the exciting activities during the prom or the finances for the event.
• Be brief. Small sentences make the biggest impact when it comes to sidebars.
• Be factual. The school yearbook should contain reliable information so that accusations of wrongdoing and libel, among other issues, can be avoided.
Sidebars may be on the side but always remember that every aspect of the yearbook is important so give these elements their due.
Also called cutlines in the publishing industry, captions are the few lines of text used in explaining or elaborating on the photographs. Yes, a good photo can tell a thousand stories but these stories can get lost in time so captions must be added to briefly explain the background behind the pictures. This is especially true for a school yearbook where the people in it may need the text to jog their memories several years from now.
Tips on writing the captions:
• Begin with a lead-in phrase, which can be considered as the headline for the photo. The phrase is usually made more prominent by putting it in bold or in italics or in both.
• Use the present tense in the sentence following the lead-in phrase, which will then describe the action as if it is taking place.
• Use the past tense in the last sentences of the caption.
• Identify the persons in the photographs by up to five people. Experts suggest typing the name and grade of the individuals.
• Describe the action including the event taking place.
• Provide additional details, when necessary.
In conclusion, a great school yearbook is a combination of the big and small aspects as well as of the text and photo elements. All of these are as important as its counterpart so everything must be provided with due attention.