Adding a colophon to your yearbook (And what the heck is a colophon?)

A colophon is a one centimetre squared multi-coloured, shimmery chip that is implanted in the bottom left corner of the back of your yearbook cover, to track your yearbook. If you lose your yearbook we can return it to you through the tracking system embedded within the colophon!

Not really. But if that was my Balderdash answer, you’d totally choose it, right? Thank you.

While not so high-tech and flashy, a colophon is actually still pretty cool. It’s a collection of information appearing at the end of your yearbook. It tells readers what program was used to make the book, what cameras were used to take the photos, what typefaces were used, what stock was used for the paper, what treatments were used on the cover, who printed the book, the name of the yearbook representative, how many copies were printed, and anything else that yearbook staff feel is necessary to include.

prince of wales colophon

Colophons date way back. Back to The Bible. Adam and Eve included colophons in their children’s school yearbooks (though they were obviously homeschooled). Ancient colophons provide fascinating historical information.

In the context of yearbooking, colophons help future yearbook staff to know how to maintain consistency of style and quality (if they so choose), or how to avoid things they didn’t like about the previous year’s yearbook. For anyone considering joining yearbook, a colophon gives them a glimpse of what sort of things they’ll learn and do there. For anyone interested in bookmaking, design, or photography, a colophon is full of very interesting information. Imagine if every book, every art piece you like, every photograph came with a colophon: It’s like HTML code for art. It’s like hacking into a work of art, except that the information is just freely given. Basically, it’s nerd paradise. (It’s also a necessary yearbook addition for anyone wanting to enter yearbook contests.)

So, if you have time and extra pages at the end of your yearbook, consider adding in a colophon. For future years, consider making it a permanent fixture in your yearbooks. Then you have a legit reason to just casually drop the word “colophon” around and you’ll sound super-smart.

colophons are why you should join yearbook


How to write yearbook photo captions with as little facepalming as possible

writing yearbook captions futurebook yearbooks

The last two to four weeks of Yearbook (depending on your deadline) are wrapping up, possibly with so much left to be done! Spreads are still being built and lots of editing remains: Are photos spaced equally apart? Do pages have an eyeline? Is there a well-chosen dominant photo? The design elements which are to be consistent throughout your book—are they consistent? Are there any typos? Does every photo have a caption?

“Wait—every photo?” you ask.


“But if it’s a spread about Halloween, or a dance, everyone can plainly see what’s in the photo: someone in a Halloween costume, or someone dancing.”

Yes, but whom?

“I don’t know! But they know who they are, and so do their friends, and at least they got their photo in the yearbook. People who aren’t their friends won’t care who they are.”

Maybe not. But maybe they will. Maybe there are names of people you’ve heard tossed about in school and you’re not sure who they are. Maybe someone in your school will be famous one day, and you’ll want to be able to identify them in the yearbook. Maybe years from now, you won’t remember the names of high school friends because you lost touch after high school. Or maybe it’s just a good journalistic practice to hone, to identify everyone in the photos.

But here’s the most important reason: People need to feel like they matter, like they are known. This is especially meaningful for the people in high school who feel invisible. When such a person flips through the yearbook and sees her name with her photo, when she didn’t know she was being photographed, when she assumed no one cared about her or knew her name, this suggests to her that her absence would be noticed and she would be missed if she was gone. For some people, this can be life-changing.

So, what do you do if you have photos un-captioned and you don’t know someone’s identity? Ask around. Ask yearbook staff, ask the secretaries, ask teachers.

If you’re short on time before your pages need submitting to get your ProofBook, ask the school principal or vice principal if they can post in the staff room some pages you’ve printed off photos of everyone whose name you don’t know. The staff can fill in people’s names.

Once everyone is named, the next most important part of captioning photos is describing what is happening.

“But we can see what is happening. They are playing soccer, or working in Chem class.”

Sure, but did anything noteworthy happen that game or that Chem class? Did the teacher make a funny Freudian slip during a lecture that he let become an on-going class joke? Did anyone accidentally make something explode? Was there an especially surprising goal made in a game? Did anyone spend over four hours making their Halloween costume? Did anyone sew their own dress for a dance or for Grad?

Cover as many of the Six Ws as possible: Who, What, Where, When, Why (and How).

Once you know who is in the photo, see if you can track them down and ask them to tell you the Six Ws of that photo, with as much detail as possible.

If you feel self-conscious approaching a group of students to ask them if anyone knows where you can find Adam Garbally or Jane Smee, perhaps your yearbook class or staff can devise a contest of sorts where the winner gets to decide what the teacher or advisor has to do that is embarrassing on the last day of school, and each yearbook member can pick their own idea. This way, you’ve got a fun icebreaker for when you need to approach a group of people.

“Hey, guys. Have you heard about the contest Yearbook is having to get Mr. Jones to embarrass himself on the last day of school? We are each picking a song for him to sing over the loudspeaker/a costume for him to wear and mine is [X]. To win, I need to identify as many people in photos as possible, and describe what’s happening. Do you know where I can find Ashley Fisher, Justin Wong, or Jack Mitchell?”

Just an idea. Perhaps there could be a prize instead, and no “ice breaker.”

Either way, once you have all of your information, you need to combine it succinctly into one or two sentences, three at the most.

Let’s imagine that these are your notes:

Yearbooking notes

This could be reduced to:

“On October 3rd, 2013, at Oak Bay Secondary’s track & field meet, Sarah Fastrunner surprises with a first place win by one second, beating out two other eleventh graders from Mount Doug: Madison Kindafastrunner (2nd) and Kara Superfastrunner (3rd).”

Other yearbook photo captioning How-to’s:

-Write in present tense, even though the action in the photo happened in the past. This is because a photo captures a moment and the idea is that as you are looking at that photo, you are in that moment and it’s happening now. After you have captioned the action in the photo, any additional information can be in past tense or future tense, as seems fitting.

-Do not worry about trying to create jazzy, editorial, “interesting” captions. You really only need to be informative, as succinctly as possible. Trying to turn the captions into an opportunity to showcase creative writing skills will only annoy the readers. The best kind of journalistic writing—like technical writing and some copywriting—will appear almost as if it wrote itself, with no ego or personality shining through of the writer. When you’re done, someone else should have a hard time figuring out how to word it any other way because all the information there is necessary and there’s no editorializing.

-Remember that captions should fall below the photos they are referencing, or sometimes are alongside, so there’s no need to state, “In the photo above” or anything similar.

-Generally, in photos of five or more people, we don’t name every individual. They can be referenced as “Senior girls’ volleyball team” or “yearbook staff.” If it’s just a candid group of students, you need not caption them as “students just hanging out.” Remember, that captions should inform readers of info they can’t glean from looking at the photo; don’t state the obvious.

-Remember that the font size should only be about 8 pt.

Lastly, maybe it’s too late in the year to get a caption on every photo. Your spreads are done and in such a way that you can’t add enough white space to squeeze captions in for every photo. Hey, don’t sweat it! Just do what you can for this year’s yearbook and next year, plan to make each aspect of yearbooking the best it can be.

Come join us at our 2014 yearbook summer workshop!

Crew from FutureBook Summer Yearbook Workshop 2013

Crew from FutureBook Summer Yearbook Workshop 2013

So, you’re thinking of joining us for FutureBook’s 5th Annual 3-day Yearbook Summer Workshop. Smart thinking!

If you are a student, some of the likely reasons you are wanting to join us are to:

  • learn industry software skills, which could lead you to a new career or help you to get a cool job.
  • learn design theory and skills which can apply to anything creative you will do.
  • learn so much about making a yearbook that you will feel empowered rather than intimidated in the school year, thereby meeting deadlines and making the process more fun and less stressful.
  • meet like-minded students, make friends, share ideas, and build networks for yourself that can help you throughout your education and careers.
  • learn new things that your yearbook teacher or advisor might not focus on in the school year.
  • enjoy the perfect segue in between fun summer and studious fall: it’s a mix of both!
  • a chance to win prizes!

If you’re an advisor, some of the likely reasons you are wanting to join us are to:

  • learn industry software skills to nicely flesh out your superhero teacher status.
  • learn design theory and skills which can apply to anything creative you will do.
  • share ideas with other yearbook advisors on how to teach classes or run a yearbook programme.
  • network with people in your field.
  • find new ideas and get ramped up for the new school year, with great plans in place to keep on target, making yearbooking more fun than stressful.
FutureBook Yearbook Summer Workshop 2013

Photography at St. Michaels University School campus, FutureBook Summer Yearbook Workshop 2013

Our focus will be to produce one double-page spread and one photograph to enter our layout and photography contests. The winning student entries will be chosen by the course instructors, who will pick three layout winners and one photo winner with a honourable mention or two. First place prizes are valued at around $200!

In order to make an award-winning spread, we will show beginners and advanced users how to use InDesign (or Scribus or FutureBook’s yearbook program, if that’s what you’ll be using in the year), we will show you advanced PhotoShop skills, how to set up portrait pages, how to use colour and typography in savvy and design-current ways, how to take and edit great photos, and of course we will show you how to organize and manage the entire project that is yearbooking. You’ll learn all terminology related to yearbooks and printing.

FutureBook yearbook covers

Learn skills to help you make FutureBook covers like this!

Sleeping at St. Michaels University School’s charming campus for two nights will be fun and comfortable, with bright and spacious rooms for two, with a shared private bathroom. Each yearbook workshop guest will enjoy three healthy meals a day plus snacks, with vegetarian options and accommodations made for wheat or dairy allergies. Please let us know in advance if you will be needing accommodations, so that we can best plan some tasty meals for you.

Any non-Victoria-located yearbook workshop guests will be picked up from the ferries.

For more information about any aspect of FutureBook’s summer yearbook workshop, please contact Kevin Betteridge at 778-926-3292 or by email at

Kevin Betteridge

Kevin workin’ that camera


Also, please download and print off the enrolment form  so that we can secure your spot right away!

See you there!

Creativity in Yearbook Marketing

Like many classes, the yearbook staff at Columneetza Secondary in Williams Lake, BC, found they had some spare time on their hands once their yearbook production finalized. However, advisor Troy Johnston knew the need was there to promote their upcoming book to ensure it would be another sell-out for the school. This years’ annual will prove to be of great significance, as it will be the last for the school as it is currently structured; it will undergo a repositioning as a senior high in the district next year.

The class rallied together, and creatively developed videos which could be played and shared around the school to aid in marketing. Two of the videos are featured here:
Cups, by Brittny, Brooklyn, Haley, Christie, Nicki and Pippa:

and a Skittles Stop Motion Animation by Johnny and Brandon:

Contest Announcement!

Hello all hardworking editors, advisors and staff members! How about a quick break, to win a $100 Subway lunch courtesy of FutureBook? Simply:
1. Like FutureBook
2. Post a picture of you hard at work on your final yearbook deadline
3. Tag FutureBook in your photo
4. The photo with the most amount of likes by April 15th will win!
Start posting and tagging!

Photo Contest