Yearbook Index Design–Why You Need One

A yearbook index isn’t glamorous, and it can be a pain to create. But before you argue with me that yearbook index design is not that important, walk with me through the first few magical moments of yearbook distribution day through the eyes of one of your students.

There’s been plenty of hype about the book’s arrival. There’s even a special “party” for students who pre-ordered the book. You’re waiting for the doors/windows of the distribution site to open, along with hundreds of your fellow students. Energy and anticipation are high!

Finally, it’s in your hands–and the first thing you look at is. . .yes, the cover. Ohhhh, it’s beautiful, and while you may even run your hands over it, engaging all your senses as you experience the texture of the cover, the smoothness of the pages and maybe you even imagine the smell of ink as you open the book and flip through it to. . .HALT.

Where do you go first?

Of course you look for your picture first! So if there is an index, that’s exactly where you go first–to see how many pages you’re on! It’s human nature–especially teenage human nature!

After you check out what pages you’re on and comment to your friends how horrible the pictures are, you flip BACK to the index and see what pages your BFFs are on–hoping they don’t appear more times than you do. Again–human nature.

And after you’ve looked your friends’ photos, you have to make sure you’re on more pages than your non-BFFs, and if not, that at least your picture is better than theirs.

Then, maybe then, you’ll look through the entire book, front cover to back cover, and admire the page design, the theme, the look, the feel, the emotion of holding a year’s worth of memories in your hands.

Still think an index isn’t worth it?

Consider the production process, and the importance of keeping an index update as you complete pages.

I am a huge believer in the value of the yearbook production process over the final product, but if you don’t sell the final product, then the process isn’t necessarily completely successful. So, getting the book into as many hands as possible is just as important to the process as page layout and great photos. Think of the index as a valuable production tool.

Building and updating your index throughout the production process is extremely helpful when it comes to coverage. How many students are included on the non-portrait pages of the book? Who’s over-covered (translate–who’s your “go-to” student when you need a quote or a photo)? We all know those high profile students who are uber-involved in school activities and who are, therefore, going to be in lots of photos–but wouldn’t it be nice to get more students on more pages so more students are more likely to buy a book?

Because, ultimately, don’t you really want more people to see what you’ve been working so hard on all year long?

What do you think? Have I got it right, or are indexes just a waste of valuable signing space?

Next up: Creating an interesting and informative index.

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