The beginning of the school year is upon us! That means it’s time for introductions, preparation and creativity. School Annual Online (SAO) makes creating, designing and executing an entire yearbook so easy! After creating yearbooks for multiple schools over the past 19 years, I’ve discovered some tricks that have saved my sanity!

Proof, I Did it Again!

This is a task that the teachers are able to help you out on! Proof reading the image sheets is such an efficient way to save some time and energy. While the yearbook starts early, waiting until February/ March to give the teachers their proof image sheets allows the teachers time to finalize their class lists. We all know students move away or move to other schools throughout the year!

After teachers have printed out their lists, their next task is to make sure spelling is correct on EVERYTHING. Spelling is IMPORTANT! Getting phone calls after the yearbook is printed and finalized complaining that Jimmy Smith’s last name is spelt “Smyth” is not a fun experience for you.

By having each teacher assist in proofreading their specific class list, you’re holding them accountable as well! Do not think you are solely responsible for an entire school’s student list… that’s crazy! Have the teachers sign and date the sheets verifying that they have checked and double checked their lists. After that, gather your editing team and start making those easy changes.

Two weeks out from the deadline is another great time to have teachers check their pages for the second or third time. It’s easy! Email teachers a PDF of their pages. It’s their last chance to check everything over before production. As before, ask them to print them out and annotate any corrections that need to be made. This is the best way to ensure that their students’ pictures match their names, their names are spelled correctly, and that there are no duplicate images on the collage page.

Go with the Flow.

Portrait flowing. This is by far my most favorite feature within School Annual Online! Once you have chosen your portrait page design from their library of designs and added it to the page (start early), you are ready to flow pictures. The most important thing to remember is to make sure you have enough portrait boxes for the amount of students in a class, so that when you flow the pictures you won’t end up leaving someone out. Once you have selected the teacher, the number of images will be listed alongside them. That way you know how many pictures will flow.

The other crucial thing to decide in advance and maintain throughout all of the portrait pages is, do you want the student names listed “Last name, first name” or “First name, last name?” It’s easy enough to correct if you change your mind or forget, but you do have to reset and reflow. I’m ex-military and am used to “last name, then first name.” It makes it so much easier to find a student by their last name instead of looking through a bunch of “Justins.”

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On Your Mark… Get Set.. Go!

START EARLY! Use the excitement of the hustle and bustle during the first week of school to your advantage. This is a time where students and teachers are getting to know each other in fun exciting ways, so make sure they document it with pictures!

Everyone Gets in on the Fun!

Encourage teachers to submit pictures to you from different school events. This year, I’m asking my teachers to submit at least 2 pictures a month with REPLAYIT©! That way teachers aren’t scrambling to turn in photos to complete their collage pages at the last minute!

Some of the best pictures come from field trips or fundraisers. It’s a personal representation of their class and their memorable year!

Show me the Money!

Bonus tip! Online sales are the only way to go! The process of collecting money, turning it into your bookkeeper (who then has to deposit the money in a yearbook account), then sending the payment to School Annual Online is a LONG and time-consuming process. Paying online is convenient for parents and for you! Logging in to check your sales so efficient. It also makes it easier to handle situations when parents say they ordered a yearbook, but there is no record of it. All you have to do is look online! School Annual Online sends parents an email confirmation. Quick and easy!

Pick a Design, go Ahead, Get Crazy!

There are tons of preset portrait designs and collage page templates waiting at your fingertips! It’s easy to want them all, just take it easy! Traditionally, we use one portrait design template for all of our class portrait pages. Sometimes we use designs with the names to the left of a row of portraits and sometimes right below each picture in order to change it up year-to-year. Just keep in mind that this will be a yearbook that students and family members look back on decades later. The design should be relevant to the school, but should also stay current based on today’s trends.

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Show Your Creativity and Style with Fonts!

Don’t go crazy when you see all the fonts available to you from SAO! Pick 3-5 fonts total to use as headlines, sub-headlines, names etc. This looks more professional and put together. By keeping the same font style consistent for a grade level, you establish continuity within that grade. Then, to differentiate, you can change the fonts for other grade levels or events. Additional fonts can be added to your library as needed.

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Pencil It In!

Get your school’s activity calendar so you know when big school-wide events are happening. Being prepared is a great way to start off the year AND your yearbook, and will help you not feel so overwhelmed when deadlines come up.

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Get to Climbing that Ladder!

Start working on your ladder.  Know how many pages you need to dedicate to specific teachers’ classroom pages, collage pages, title pages, autograph pages, portrait pages, events etc. By getting this organized early, you’re one step closer to a successful yearbook.

ESOL teacher in Florida.

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“I have always sung the praises of School Annual from the moment that Parris rescued me that first year! It’s quite the story and when I tell people why I’m loyal to SA, they completely understand!”

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