A yearbook, also known as an annual, is a memory book created by students and distributed to the rest of the school at the end of the year. Virtually all U.S. high schools, many colleges, and some middle schools have them. Most yearbooks contain a section with individual pictures in alphabetical order by class and accompanied by the students' names. Sometimes large group pictures of the entire class are included as well. Modern yearbooks often have a section in color, typically depicting student life and/or seniors. Other sections may include articles about athletics, academics, or other activities. Some yearbooks are distributed at the beginning of the following year so that year-end events can be included. Others contain a supplemental section that is printed separately and distributed either with the book or after the end of school.
Herff Jones and Jostens are two major yearbook printing companies in the United States. Many other companies publish books as well. The yearbook plants send representatives to work with the yearbook staff at each school. Although in the past most yearbooks were laid out by hand, with pictures physically cropped and placed on layout boards, today most of the work is done on computers and submitted by disk. Pictures are either taken with a digital camera or scanned in using a negative scanner, which is much more detailed than a flatbed scan of a print. The pictures are cropped and adjusted using a photo editing program such as Adobe Photoshop. Layout is the look of the page, where the white space is, where photos will go and what size they will be, and the placement, font, and size of the text. Most layouts contain photos, captions, headlines, copy, and white space. Copy is the main story on the layout, and white space is the empty area between the other elements of the layout.
Most yearbook staffs consist of an adviser (a teacher who oversees the production of the yearbook), one or more editors (students who are in charge of production), and staff members (students who take pictures, design layouts, and write stories). Some staffs also have members who take care of other matters such as advertising.
A yearbook begins with careful planning, usually done by the editors and adviser. Some editors go to yearbook camp to prepare for the task ahead. They design a cover, create a theme which runs through the book, design templates for the layouts, and make a ladder. A ladder is a list of every page in the book and what will be on it. It is a crucial roadmap for making a coherent book.
Every so often, yearbook staff members will face the dreaded deadline. Groups of pages must be sent periodically to the plant; the book is not all sent at the same time. Each page must be checked by the editors and changes made. The pages are then burned onto a CD or placed on a Zip Disk or other medium and mailed to the plant to be printed. A few days or weeks later, the editors receive proofs, full size prints that closely match what the final product will look like. This gives them a final opportunity to make adjustments or changes. After all the pages have been sent in the book goes through a printing process and the finished books are sent back to the school for distribution.
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