Creating a cover for your yearbook is one of the most exciting steps in the whole yearbook process! The cover sets the tone of the book and will be the first thing everyone sees when they receive their much-anticipated yearbook at the end of the school year. A great way to generate buzz about your school’s yearbook is to include your students in the creation of the cover. Many schools have a contest to select the cover of their yearbook.

Here are some great ideas to help you plan a cover contest, plus some new fresh ideas that will help your students voice their opinion about this very important yearbook task.


First and foremost, make sure you know when your cover is due. This will typically be early fall, so start thinking about the cover contest as soon as the school year begins. You should first reach out to a contact at the school to make sure they are on board with the cover contest and see if they have any specific guidelines that you need to follow.

For example, if your school has a logo that is used on correspondence, you will want to check with your contact about whether it should be included in the cover and how they can share the logo with you. Also, it’s great to have a contact at the school to help you with the contest. Great places to start are the art teacher, computer teacher, or a parent coordinator. Find out if they are willing to help you spread the word about the contest, and also ask them if they would be willing to be judges.


Once you have confirmed everything with the school, decide on the specific key elements that you want included on your yearbook cover. Some things to consider are: school name, year, school logo, mascot, motto, etc. Also, is there a particular theme that you want students to create artwork for? Maybe your school has a focus in music and you want to make sure this is highlighted on the cover. If so, make sure it’s included in the guidelines for cover creation.

Also be sure to include the deadline on the requirements. Always allow a few extra days from when the actual cover deadline is and when the deadline is for the students. There will always be a few stragglers when it comes to submitting cover ideas. Make sure you specify whether you want original artwork or whether they can use online graphics and clipart and what the art dimensions should be.


How will you promote the cover contest? A few ways to spread the word are to send home papers to parents in their communication folders or post it to your school’s social media sites or website. Make sure students write their name on the back of their submission instead of the front so the judges aren’t influenced by knowing certain students. 

Once the winner is selected, decide what to do with all of the other submissions. Maybe they could be hung outside the art room or displayed elsewhere for visitors and students to view.


Another thing to consider is what grades of students should be involved in the cover contest. Some schools limit the contest to the graduating class (for example, in some elementary schools, just the 5th graders are involved).


Looking for a new way to do a cover contest? Instead of having the students submit the artwork for the cover, the yearbook adviser (you!) could work with your School Annual Account Representative to come up with 5-6 great covers using all of the amazing tools available on the School Annual website for yearbook creation. You can print out those covers and have students vote on their favorite!

In fact, we worked with one school where they coordinated the yearbook voting with the 5th grade school curriculum. The students were learning about voting near election day, and they had their own “voting day” in school to pick the winning yearbook cover. The students loved being involved in the process.

With a traditional cover contest, there can only be one winner and some students may be upset that their artwork isn’t selected for the cover. If you do a yearbook cover contest created with School Annual’s themes and graphics, not only will the students not get upset if their submission isn’t picked, but the cover that is selected can end up coordinating with one of the many great themes already available.


How do you decide what 5 covers to create for the students to vote on? Check out the ideas on Look for things that stand out to you, relate to your school or are on-trend at the moment. Not sure what’s trendy? Ask for your child’s input, they usually aren’t shy with their opinion.

For example, there are a few different Emoji covers (which are trendy right now). Try adding your school logo to a few and see how it looks, but make sure to have a few different ideas.

You could even select one of the existing covers from School Annual to include in your contest, like the Super Hero cover or one with an inspirational quote. You might be surprised by what your students select as the winner. We have heard from a few schools that did their cover contests this way, and they were surprised by the cover design the students chose. Again, you may want to limit this voting to the highest grade (since they are the graduating class) as a special treat for them.


How about turning the voting for the cover contest into a fundraiser for the entire school? You could create a “Penny War” for yearbook cover voting. First, print out the 5 covers that students will be voting for and attach them to a large plastic jug (like a pretzel container from a big box store). Set up voting for a week and have students “vote” on their favorite with coins. Then whichever cover gets the largest amount of money is the winner.

To be respectful (as not all students will have money to contribute to the voting), make sure to set up another way for students to vote via paper ballot or bingo chips so they can submit their vote in the jug as well.  Any money raised can go back into the school yearbook fund. You can use these funds to buy yearbooks for the teachers of the graduating class, or a copy for the school principal (you decide!).

So, whether you choose a traditional yearbook cover contest or decide to create your own covers and have the students vote on their favorite, a contest is a great way to get the students involved. The earlier you generate buzz about the yearbook, the more excited kids will be throughout the year knowing their input was considered in the creative process. Once the cover has been selected, the real fun begins!
Stay at home mom of 3 active boys living in New York, NY.
Has had a pen pal from Finland for the past 30 years.
Most likely to be drinking Diet Lemon Snapple and snacking on a Peppermint Patty
“I created the yearbook in about two weeks time because I didn’t want this group of kids to miss out on having a yearbook…It was a huge sense of accomplishment finishing and getting it done so fast and having the kids so happy with the final product.”