Well, excuuuuse me! (AKA writing a yearbook mistakes disclaimer)

You know all that fine print added to a car contract, Lipitor ad, before/after info-mercials, or on a peanut butter jar? That’s what I’m talking about. A yearbook mistakes disclaimer.

As final yearbook deadlines approach, I want to make a pitch for including an editorial statement–or disclaimer–to the back of your book because there will always be someone out there just itching to complain about something.

“My child’s name is spelled wrong.”

“The baseball group photo doesn’t have the boys in uniform.”

“Why did the Homecoming Queen only get TWO pictures on the page?”

And the whining goes on.

As an adviser, I would field dozens of these calls every June from people wanting to point out all the yearbook mistakes. It was particularly frustrating after I had watched my amazing yearbook students work so hard all year. My regular answer was, “This is a year-long class project put together by 14-16 year-olds. They are bound to make mistakes.”

But why not make it formal?

This appeared in one of our middle school’s books a couple of years ago. (The bold words actually appeared in the disclaimer–I didn’t add them)

“This yearbook is produced entirely by students in the Yearbook class in a learning situation. We were responsible for layout, copy and picture selection on each page. Unlike a lot of schools, our pages are sent to the publisher “camera ready,” which means that all photos, copy, captions and headlines (using Adobe InDesign CS2) are done at school in Room 200. Given the limitations of time and budget, it is our goal to give fair and equal coverage to all aspects of school life, September through March, which is our final deadline for a June delivery.

There are, however, some things over which we have little or no control: pictures that don’t turn out, changed dates, cancelled dates, student who missed both school picture days due to absences, parents who do not turn in baby ads by the deadline, not having enough space for all of the baby ads (max 144 pgs).

Consequently, any omissions or errors are purely accidental and are no way intentional on the part of the yearbook staff, the advisor or the printer.

Finally, every page is proofread at least three times before being sent to the printer. We regret any misspelled words, missing punctuation, misspelled names and offer our apologies to anyone affected.”

A mistakes disclaimer handed out with the books certainly won’t eliminate all the phone calls and emails, but clarifying what the staff does might help complainers think twice.

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