Finding Your Yearbook Theme

It can be tricky to identify a yearbook theme that goes well with the upcoming school year when you haven’t gone through any of that year yet (and for a book that won’t even be shipped for almost year from now).

Sure, some years are a slam-dunk. In 2020, thousands of schools knew their theme would be “2020 Vision” or “Hindsight is 2020” or something related to the Roaring ’20s. In fact, very often, themes have little to do with the school itself, much less the year.

Here is a list of common themes we found from the top-ranked New York yearbook publisher, Walsworth Yearbooks. If you are seeking a theme that is specific to your school and your school year, let the research begin. A great yearbook tells the story of a year, and it does so with great design and consistency.

That’s where theme comes in. A theme is personality of the yearbook and makes it stand out from other yearbooks. With a good theme, you can open to any page in the book and immediately know you are in the current year of your school’s yearbook.. Themes are established though text, color schemes, graphic design, and photography styles.


Verbal themes use sayings, phrases and creative use of words in general for headlines and sub-headlines and photo caption headers. Sometimes words are arranged visually as well, such as in blocks or vertically, and of course interesting font/character styles can play a big role. Verbal themes can be powerful if they have a direct connection to your school. For example, if your gymasium has undergone improvements, a spread about school sports might have a headline like “Raise the Roof,” and similar creative headlines consistently throughout the book.

Concept themes can be complex and therefore you need to be tricky that not only your staff, but the entire student body can make sense of them quickly enough. You do not want to be abstract when it comes to yearbook, but a cool concept theme (whether through text or graphics) can be amazing when done well.

Chronological yearbooks tell the story of the year in order of when the events happen in the calendar, rather than organizing your book in traditional sections. The advantage is that your staff can cover more events throughout the year and the calendar provides the natural order of the pages, whether you arrange content by season, month or even by week. Such calendar themes can be challenging when it comes to figure out where some clubs or academics go or where to place your portraits photos–especially when you organize on a weekly level.

Where to put your theme

Depending on the theme and how you intend to reveal it, you could be explicity state the theme on the cover. The other option is to tease/ hint at the theme on the cover and reveal as the reader proceeds into the book (on the endsheets, title page, divider pages and normal pages). In this way, the theme becomes apparent to the reader. Furthermore, yearbooks often have a “Note from the Editors” or from the “Editor-in-Chief” explaining what the theme is and why it was chosen.

Here is a list of where you can employ your theme throughout your book:


Title Page

Divider Pages

Book Opening and Closing Pages

And finally, you can (and should) work in the theme–whether verbal or visual or both–on all the pages themselves as often as you can. This means working the theme onto pages in these areas:

Headlines and Subheadlines



Ads/Senior Pages