College Graduation Party Checklist

Congrats soon-to-be graduate! It’s time to celebrate. At Herff Jones, we take pride in being a part of each graduation day.

You worked hard for that degree, now throw yourself the party you deserve. Check out our helpful checklist to stay on track with planning either a large party or a smaller celebration with close family and friends. The choice is yours, we’re just here to help you get organized.

College Grad Checklist

Firts Things First

checked checkboxDownload this graduation party checklist. Because you’re graduating soon!

checkboxChoose a date, time and location for your graduation party

checkboxStart building your guest list

checkboxCreate your food and drink menu

checkboxRent tables, chairs and tents if needed

checkboxCollect photos, awards, trophies, and more for your photo board or memory table

checkboxCreate and order your invitations


1 to 2 months

checkboxComplete your guest list

checkboxMail invitations

checkboxPut together a list of hotels for anyone traveling from out of town

checkboxOrder keepsakes that can be displayed at the party, such as a signature diploma frame


2 to 3 weeks before

checkboxOrder thank you notes, return address labels and stamps

checkboxOrder your cake

checkboxCreate a slideshow of your favorite photos to play on a TV or projector

checkboxDepending on location, you may need to board your pets; make reservations for them, too

checkboxBuy decorations, paper plates, napkins, utensils table cloths and more

checkboxOrder flowers


Week Before

checkboxMake a great music playlist

checkboxMake sure you have a speaker to play music

checkboxMake sure you have a slow cooker, serving dishes and coolers ready to go

checkboxBegin purchasing food and beverages

checkboxConfirm delivery of rental equipment

checkboxMake sure you have plenty of trash bins and trash bags

checkboxCheck the weather forecast for rain and make any necessary arrangements


Day Before

checkboxTime to decorate

checkboxPick up food and any remaining beverages

checkboxSet up memory tables and photo boards

checkboxCreate a hastag for people to share pictures on Instagram and Twitter

checkboxClean, clean, clean!


Big Day

checkboxPick up cake

checkboxPick up flowers

checkboxGet ice

checkboxPut signs and balloons outside the venue

checkboxTake your pet to the kennel

checkboxSet out trash and recycling bins

checkboxSet up tables and chairs

checkboxTurn up the music

checkboxChill drinks and display food


Week After

checkboxSend thank you notes to everyone who helped set up, cook and clean

checkboxSend personalized thank you notes to people who gave gifts within two weeks



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Book Sales Efforts Way Beyond Posters

It’s spring. You still have books to sell. Something has to happen.

This is when Lisa Sherman kicks off her annual telethon.

“We run a non-buyers list report in eBusiness, which tells us who hasn’t ordered and provides contact information for their guardian,” the 16-year adviser from Edwardsburg, Michigan, said. “Then, each of my staff members takes a section of the list and makes personal phone calls to each individual.”

The cold calling adds another practical skill to the class. She posts a script on the whiteboard reminding students how to introduce themselves, talk about the yearbook and give ordering instructions.

“Week one, we call all non-buyers with the last names starting with A–L. In week two, we contact the remaining non-buyers with last names M–Z. Week three is for going back through all the lists and emailing parents who have still not purchased, even after the phone contacts.”

The last week of the month, staffers send out a final reminder to the students’ email accounts. At that point, the guardians had heard directly from the staff twice and the student heard once. In one month.

An extra bonus: the staffers gained skills and confidence in business communications.

Each staffer has a goal of selling 10 more books by the end of the month. And that adds up. Sherman has seen a dramatic increase in sales through the telethon. Maybe this is the last-minute sales push you need.

This resource originally appeared on

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This Little Rectangular Game-Changer

Cross Country with Square One

Walk into Evan Williams’ classroom at Clay Middle School in Carmel, Indiana, and you might think you’ve walked into a professional journalism office. There’s not a desk to be seen. There’s a tad of chaos. And there are students clustered around computers, grouped together on the floor and pouring out into the hallway.

“There’s not enough room for a lab and desks,” he said, “so I just got rid of the desks.”

This is the attitude Williams takes toward everything in his broadcast/newspaper/yearbook space. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, make it better.

With plenty of newspaper experience and a degree in journalism education from Ball State, he came to be a one-stop journalism educator. In a middle school.

“It took me a while to understand yearbook,” he said. “My first three yearbooks are nightmares. I put them up there and I look through them now. They’re a joke.”

We’ve all been there. But he found his groove with our industry-leading online software eDesign, and empowered his students to take charge of their work.

Then Square One™ changed how yearbooks take shape on May 1 last year.

“When you guys announced it,” he said, “I was already on board. And I was like, ‘We’re using the swiss grid,’ and my students were like ‘whaaat?!’ And I was like, ‘We’re being fancy.’”

You heard him. Middle school students taking on Square One™. And being fancy.

“Having the squares on the page – in eDesign the grid boxes with the internal space – that’s a game changer. Kids want to do two columns of text, and doing that with the old grid was not easy. Now I say, ‘go three boxes across and do four boxes down, there’s your two columns.’”

Williams had a moment when it all came together. Two of his students sat down to create a day-in-the-life spread. He walked them through Square One™, and they got it.

“They understood mods without understanding mods. They got each rectangle tells a story. They understood seven different modules are seven different stories, and they were able to jump into their first deadline.”

This simplified approach to teaching formatting gave Williams some peace of mind, but he doesn’t feel like he sold out teaching design.

“We were getting pages done before Thanksgiving, which was unheard of,” he said. “In the past, I’ve been a little leery about using templates because the students want our book to have a unique look. But I didn’t shy away from the interchangeable modules because they have the freedom to change them. Even if we do use the modules, we’re changing the fonts, adding text and some of the design changes to fit the theme.”

Herff Jones’ proprietary design approach just helps, because it’s how professional publication designers craft their spreads. Williams teaches faster, students find success quicker and the pressure of producing the book eases. Plus, you can always create modules and templates from scratch.

“The modules and grid have been a lifesaver,” he said. “For the kids who aren’t as visual, it gives them a starting point they would not have had without a ton of struggle.”

With a new sense of pride and with freshly empowered students, Williams made a promise to his staff members.

“I told the kids, this is going to be one of our best yearbooks ever. This one is going to set a new standard.”

Evan Williams

Evan Williamshas advised student publications at Clay Middle School for 14 years and teaches Herff Jones and Ball State University journalism workshops. His students’ work has been featured in Herff Jones’ showcase books four times, and the 2016 volume was a Best in Show winner at the fall JEA/NSPA convention.

This resource originally appeared on

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Yearbook Questionnaire


Getting feedback from the student body is a great way to gain students’ interest in buying a yearbook. Use the questionnaire below or develop your own — you know your student body best. Use the information you gather when planning your next yearbook.


A. Sports
B. Student Life (Including what goes on outside of school)
C. Academics
D. Clubs and Organizations
E. More Pictures
F. More Captions
G. Me
H. Other (briefly explain)


A. Sports
B. Student Life (Including what goes on outside of school)
C. Academics
D. Clubs and Organizations
E. More Pictures
F. More Captions
G. Me
H. Other (briefly explain)


(briefly explain)


A. The price was less?
B. You could make payments?
C. You could fundraise for the price of the yearbook and/or senior recognition ad?
D. You were in it more?
E. There was more in the book that you wanted to see?
F. Other (briefly explain)




Contributed by:
Ginger Thompson
Herff Jones Sales Professional, KY


**Originally published on

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Yearbook Cover Terminology



Embossing and debossing are the processes of creating either raised or recessed relief images and designs in the cover material. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the surface of the material.

Embossing is an outstanding means of enhancing a cover design that has already been defined with silkscreen or lithographic ink. Embossed designs may also be complemented with brilliant metallay or colorful foil. Dies may emboss a design on a portion of the cover, a richly textured grain pattern over the entire surface or both


Metallay is a metal material that can be applied to an embossed area on your cover design. This application is available in silver or gold. Metallay dies are generally more costly than embossing dies because a very sharp and strong cutting edge must be built into the die to cut through the metal material.


Foil is a fine, durable metallic material that can be applied to smooth or lightly grained cover surfaces. Foil adds an excellent touch to any cover design. Herff Jones foils are available in a variety of solid color and sparkling patterned foils. A die that makes a slightly recessed impression is required for foil stamping. It is not as costly as metallay or embossing dies.


Silkscreening is an economical means of reproducing line artwork or direct line photography in one or more colors. Silkscreening inks are generally opaque, but some are translucent and will change color when applied to a colored base material. Your Herff Jones Representative can show you swatches of silkscreen colors on acetate; examine them closely for opacity before making a final decision on color.


Lithography allows use of full-color photography, multicolored artwork and photo mechanical special effects as cover designs. All Litho covers are gloss laminated for protection of the ink. Additional lamination options include Matte and Specialty Lamination. Lithographic inks are translucent, and authentic full-color reproduction can only be achieved on a white base material. Applying lithographic ink to colored cover material will alter the shade of the ink.


  • TOP-FOIL STAMPING involves the application of foil to a raised level of an embossed design. Like embossing, foil is applied with heat and pressure, necessitating a stamping die and a counter die under the cover to prevent the embossing area from being flattened when the foil is applied.
  • BLIND EMBOSSING is an embossed design that is not decorated with silkscreen color, metallay or top-foil stamping, leaving only the raised and recessed areas of the design.
  • OVERGRAINING involves the impression of a grain over a litho design or a silkscreen design that is not already embossed.
  • OVERTONE RUB requires a special lacquer applied by hand into the recessed areas of a grain pattern or embossed element, giving an antique appearance. The application of overtone rub is not recommended for silktouch base materials due to the porous texture of the finish. Overtone spot rub is the same process, but the rub is applied in a select area only.
  • QUARTERBINDING is the vertical division of the front cover into two sections, each with a different base material, or decorated with a different process.
  • PADDING involves the use of a special binder’s board that gives a cushiony feel to covers.
  • COVER TIP-ONS are images or graphics printed on a press and then applied (“tipped-on”) to a debossed area on the cover. Tip-ons require a debossed area to protect the edges/corners of the tip-on. This process requires either a standard or custom die.
  • PLASTIC JACKETS are totally transparent, and protect cover designs from wear and handling. They are available from Herff Jones in all book sizes, and are designed to fit a book with any number of pages.

    **Originally published on

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Create a Staff Recruitment Plan


Don’t tell anyone, but yearbook advisers are really more like coaches than teachers.

Like coaches, yearbook advisers provide training in fundamentals and skills, they motivate and challenge, and they stress teamwork. They arrange schedules and plan for “practices.” They evaluate their personnel and assign positions based on talent and skill level. They fret over obtaining and maintaining essential equipment, and they are always worried about funding, budgets and receipts. Some even take their “team” to summer camp.

Yearbook advisers might enjoy what they are doing more and stick with it longer if they would think of themselves more as coaches. When coaches don’t have the talent they need, they go out and look for it. In other words, they recruit (for our purposes, we will assume they follow the rules!). In the long term, implementing a carefully planned, deliberate staff recruitment plan can make the yearbook adviser’s job much easier and improve the overall quality of a publication. By recruiting and then retaining a multi-talented and diverse group of students, an adviser can build a yearbook staff into a yearbook journalism program.

Recruiting begins with an application process. Each adviser’s situation is different, so the process will differ from school to school. Our recruitment plan begins each year in late February or early March when I send teams of yearbook and newspaper students to our feeder middle school to make presentations to all the eighth-grade language arts classes. The students explain the benefits of studying journalism and working on a publication staff. They show off our publications and emphasize the real-life skills that students gain from working with the latest desktop publishing equipment, from meeting deadlines and doing interviews, and from collaborating with a variety of other students. It doesn’t hurt that they talk about our trips to national scholastic journalism conventions and the opportunities for recognition and awards to put on their college applications. We have a Quill and Scroll honor society chapter as one way of recognizing scholastic journalists. We also enter a number of competitions at the state, regional and national level to provide opportunities for students to earn recognition for their work.

In my early years as an adviser, I only had my students make presentations to honors-level classes at the middle school, but I soon realized that this strategy did not result in the diversity that I wanted and that my staff needed. There are enough jobs to be done in creating a yearbook that it is counterproductive to have 20 high achievers who all want to have their own way. A room full of creative geniuses might come up with cutting edge ideas, but they might never get the work finished to meet a deadline. A staff of really popular athletes and cheerleaders might not have any difficulty doing interviews, but they might not have the time to stay after school to get their work done.

After I collect the applications from the eighth grade students, I send recommendation forms to their teachers. I ask the teachers to evaluate the students on their creativity, their writing ability, their maturity level and their ability to work with others. When I have a large number of applicants, I sometimes do interviews before I can make my final decisions. Over the years we have made it so special to be selected for a high school publication staff that the eighth graders eagerly await the day when the lists are posted.

At the same time, I am taking applications from the rising ninth graders, I start announcements encouraging students already at the high school to come by the staff room to pick up an application. I talk to my fellow English teachers, our art teacher, our guidance counselors and our business teachers, asking for the names of students I might want to recruit personally. I send these students an application with a personal note telling them that their teachers have told me about their special interests and skills that they might want to contribute to our yearbook staff.

Diversity is important in several respects. I want students from every grade level so that we will know the interests/opinions of all the different age groups in our school. I want top academic students who have strong writing skills, and I want students who like to work hard completing the many small jobs that make a big difference in whether or not our yearbook is completed on time. I want popular students, but I also want thoughtful, creative students who have time to make a commitment to our program. I want students who understand the “big picture,” but I also want students who can focus on the details.

Having a diverse staff pays off. Yearbook sales improve when the yearbook is inclusive — when we include as many students as possible in the book through photography, copy and alternative copy. A diverse staff can produce a publication that more closely mirrors the diversity of a student body. Coverage is inevitably better when we have a wide range of interests and backgrounds represented on the staff.

Many of my students remain on staff all four years of their high school career. I retain these students by providing new challenges and leadership opportunities and advanced skill development. As their skills and commitment increase, they take ownership of their publication. We know from practical experience as well as research that the students who get the most out of high school are the students who feel like they “belong.” After a year or two on staff, my students know that the yearbook room is truly where they belong.

Recruitment is important to coaches and yearbook advisers because both rely on the commitment of participants to produce a team effort. Both need a variety of talents and skills in order to succeed. Yearbook advisers don’t have to count wins and losses, but they do need support from school administrators and the community. Yearbook advisers could sure use a whistle every now and then when the staff room gets a little out of control, but thank goodness they don’t have to wear sweaty T-shirts and polyester stretch pants.

Contributed by:
Brenda Gorsuch, yearbook adviser
West Henderson High School, NC


**Originally published on

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Choose a Colorful Yearbook Staff


It seems like only yesterday that the principal called me into her office. The yearbook program was in debt. The former staff had never made a deadline. The yearbook always arrived late. She told me that our school would be laying off teachers in the spring and that keeping my job depended on my doing the yearbook. My own children were young and I couldn’t work long hours after school. I had never worked on a yearbook before and I had no idea where to begin…


Today, as I look back on my five years as a yearbook adviser, I realize that my staff never missed a deadline. Our program made money every year and our book won awards. But most of all, we had fun. I loved advising the yearbook, but what made it so wonderful for me were the relationships that developed among our yearbook staff. Choosing the right students was the key to a successful yearbook program.

Before taking on the responsibilities of the yearbook class, I was fortunate to attend a True Colors® seminar on personality typing that was offered by my yearbook rep. Personality typing has been studied since Hippocrates first proposed the theory that people are intrinsically different. In 1978, based on the work of Hippocrates, Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs and David Keirsey, Don Lowry, the founder of True Colors, developed a fun and easy-to-understand system of personality typing which identifies four basic personality types: Gold, Blue, Green and Orange.


We can all relate to people with whom we have similar likes and dislikes, but trying to understand those people who appear to be our polar opposites can sometimes be a challenge. With True Colors, students simply prioritize four different cards in order of their preferences to determine which is their strongest personality color.
The use of colors instead of other monikers makes it easy for yearbook staffers and the adviser to understand each other’s personalities. By understanding the core character traits of each student, members of the yearbook staff can value each other’s differences and develop unity. But what do these “colors” mean?


TrueColors-goldA GOLD STUDENT is task-oriented and is organized, detail-oriented, dependable, on-time and accurate. Gold students follow the rules and are great at completing tasks and making deadlines. These are the students who want to know what is expected of them and what the requirements are for the class.

To improve the work environment for GOLD students:

  • Assign work that requires detailed planning and careful follow-through
  • Define the tasks in clear and concrete terms
  • Be punctual and reliable
  • Provide a well-structured, stable work environment and avoid abrupt changes
  • Give standard rules and regulations and set a good example
  • Let them share in the responsibilities and duties of their workplace and take their work ethic seriously
  • Praise their neatness, organizational capabilities and efficiency
  • Give feedback every step of the way to reassure them that they are on the right track
  • Recognize their need to be straightforward, dependable, responsible and business-minded
  • Give tangible recognition for their work


TrueColors-blueA BLUE STUDENT is people-oriented and is optimistic, empathetic, friendly, imaginative and abstract. Blue students prefer an atmosphere of cooperation and do not like conflict. Blue students need to be valued and respected. They are great motivators and enjoy interacting with others. They do their best work when working with others rather than working alone.

To improve the working environment for BLUE students:

  • Create a warm and personal working atmosphere
  • Interact as much as possible with openness and honesty
  • Establish a harmonious work environment and avoid conflict and hostility
  • Show your support, caring and appreciation by offering frequent praise
  • Allow them the freedom to express feelings and the time to heal emotional wounds
  • Make use of their natural gifts for communication, nurturing and people-oriented ideas
  • Praise their imaginative and creative approach to the job
  • Provide them with one-on-one feedback


TrueColors-greenA GREEN STUDENT is idea-oriented and is probing, abstract, curious, logical and conceptual. Green students might question just about everything in their quest for “why” and “how.” They often prefer to work independently and they need to be challenged. They can also be very demanding of themselves because they set their expectations very high.

To improve the working environment for GREEN students:

  • Assign projects which require analytical thinking and problem solving
  • Discuss your “big picture” with them and elicit their universal outlook
  • Inspire them with futuristic ideas and potentialities
  • Respect their inclination to go beyond the established rules of the system
  • Allow them the freedom to improve the system
  • Take their ideas to the next step and encourage them to think independently
  • Praise their inventiveness and their ingenuity
  • Understand their need to avoid redundancy and repetitive tasks
  • Recognize and appreciate their competence on the job


TrueColors-orangeAn ORANGE STUDENT is action-oriented and thrives on freedom and adventure. Orange students are playful and energetic and perform best in non-structured, spontaneous environments. They love action and they love to have fun. Orange students can be flexible, and are often great trouble-shooters and negotiators. They enjoy competition but may lack focus to complete detailed assignments and will bore easily with paperwork or repetitious tasks.

To improve the working environment for ORANGE students:

  • Assign projects which are action-packed and which require a hands-on approach
  • Provide opportunities to be skillful and adventurous
  • Let them use their natural abilities as negotiators
  • Give them the freedom to do the job in their own style and in a non-traditional way
  • Help them keep a good sense of humor and avoid boredom while on the job
  • Encourage them to use their gifts of originality and flair
  • Provide opportunities for job competition
  • Allow freedom of movement and understand their preference for action over words
  • Praise their performance and skillfulness while on the job



Confucius said: “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Imagine a year where your students rush to your classroom with excitement and enthusiasm. Imagine a year without staff conflict, a year where deadlines are met and a year that is as memorable as the yearbook itself.

This can be accomplished by empowering your students to perform to their maximum capabilities and by creating an environment that will not only acknowledge individual differences but will also foster students’ self-esteem. How can you do this? By assigning your yearbook staffers jobs that match their personality types and by improving the working environment for each color type, the process of creating the yearbook will be enjoyable for all.

By applying the simple principles of True Colors to the tasks necessary to complete a yearbook, you will find that not only will your students be happier and perform better, but that you too will have an enjoyable, stress-free year.

Find out how to make True Colors a part of your program by visiting

Contributed by:
Jane Roehrig
Herff Jones Sales Professional, CA

**Originally published on

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Team-Building & Ice Breaker Ideas



Separate the participants into groups of eight. (Six and ten also work, but eight is the ideal number.)
Ask each group to stand in a circle.
With their right hands extended, each member should clasp hands with another participant.
With their left hands, each member should clasp hands with a different participant. The result is one giant knot of hands in the middle of the circle.
Challenge the group to untangle themselves without letting go of hands. If they need a hint, remind the participants to think three-dimensionally (they can climb over and under hands).
For advanced groups or groups who finish quickly, ask them to do the activity again without talking.


What was your initial reaction when you heard the task?
Did one person take over as the leader or was it a group effort?
How did you communicate and give instructions?
How does this reflect life in your journalism room? (everyone needs to work together; each person plays an equal role in production; you need to communicate things clearly without dropping what you are doing to do it for them)
How does this activity relate specifically to your job or position?



Ask all of the participants to form a circle with their chairs.
As the leader, begin the game by standing in the middle of the chairs.
Explain that the person in the middle must introduce himself in the following format: “My name is ____ and I like people who…” and they will fill in the blank with something like “are wearing blue jeans” or “have an older sibling.”
Anyone in the circle who fits the description must stand up and move to a different chair. The last person standing continues with “My name is ____ and I like people who…” and so on.
Encourage the participants to be creative and look beyond the physical aspects of the group.

I like to use this game as an introduction to a workshop or when some members of the group are new. Rather than spotlight the new people, this game makes everyone the center of attention at some point and also requires that everyone introduce themselves in a fun format. This is a good energizer since it gets everyone moving around.

As the leader, you can manipulate the direction of the game by purposely stalling until you are the last person standing in the center. Do this if the group is getting too silly or too boring. You can always use “I like people who haven’t been in the center of the circle yet” as a way to get new people involved. When you are ready to end the game, this also gives you an easy way to conclude and provide instructions before your next event.



Ask the participants to form a circle, turning one direction so that each person gets toe-to-heel with the person in front of them.
Explain to the group that on the count of three, everyone will ease back to sit on the lap of the person behind them. (Be sure to tell them that this is not like plopping on the couch to watch TV; this should be an easy lean backward. Also, note that this activity often does not work well with young participants.)
Usually, some portion of the circle will lose balance and fall, probably laughing hysterically.
For advanced groups who can hold the sitting position for some period of time, try the next step—walking. Once in the sitting position, instruct the group to shuffle their feet on command: left, right, left, etc. The result is nothing short of hilarious.


I like to use this game as a conclusion to a seminar, and thus, without any serious discussion. You could go into what it takes to work together and why it is important to trust the other staff members, but I prefer to leave it at simply a fun… and funny… game.


**Originally published on

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Yearbook and Copyright Law



“Wouldn’t our yearbook look great with the Tasmanian Devil® on the cover?”

“Let’s put the lyrics from a popular song on the endsheet.”

“That photo of the President would really finish out the current events section.”

Yes, you may think you have some great ideas for your yearbook, but, have you stopped to consider whether you have the legal right to include any of these works in your publication? Every yearbook staff should be familiar with the basics of copyright law.

Copyright law protects the works of authors, including original literary, musical and dramatic works. Photographs, advertisement designs and cartoon characters are protected as well. The government established copyright law to reward and stimulate the creation of these works, and to encourage their use for public benefit.

A copyright protects the way in which a creator expresses his or her idea, but not the actual idea or facts behind the idea. For example, an event like a news conference cannot be copyrighted, but a reporter can copyright his or her article about the event.

Copyright protection is unavailable for names, titles of books and movies, slogans and short advertising expressions.



A work is automatically copyrighted when it is completed or placed into a “fixed” form. For example, a photograph is copyrighted. A design or a literary work is copyrighted once it is placed on paper or saved on a computer. An original work does not have to be published to receive copyright protection.


Be sure to obtain permission before you include any of the following items in your yearbook or other student publication:

  • photos clipped or scanned from newspapers or magazines
  • excerpts from books or magazines
  • cartoon characters or student drawings of a popular character (Mickey Mouse®, for example)
  • photos of characters from movies or television
  • CD or album cover artwork
  • magazine cover artwork, logos or graphics
  • song lyrics, phrases or lines from songs
  • works of art (painting or literature, unless in public domain)
  • all other creative works

This also applies to electronically scanning a copyrighted picture, character, etc., and making your own alterations to it using a computer. Even though you may be creating something that looks different from the original protected work, you should obtain permission from the copyright owner. This is the only way to be 100% certain that reproducing the work will not result in a copyright infringement lawsuit. If you have doubts about whether it is necessary to obtain permission to use an item, consult your school’s attorney.


There are some exceptions to a copyright owner’s exclusive rights to his or her creative works, such as “fair use.” However, these exceptions are easily misunderstood and often misinterpreted. Also, copyrights do not last forever and older works once protected by copyright may now be in the public domain. However, the rules of copyright duration are complicated and it is often difficult to determine when a work is no longer protected by copyright. To be safe, you should not rely on these exceptions or assume a work is in the public domain. Instead, it is best to seek permission to use all creative works.


To obtain permission to reproduce a copyrighted item, you must contact the copyright owner. The copyright information on the item should contain the name of the copyright owner or the wording requested by the copyright owner when permission is granted to use the material.

Hints for locating copyright information:

  • Book: look on the title page or on the back of the title page
  • Cartoon Characters: see material or merchandise where the characters appear
  • Photographs: look at the caption
  • CDs: look at the printed material with the disk

To obtain permission to reprint a work from a record company or a publishing company, the American Association of Publishers recommends writing to the permissions department of the company and supplying:

  • the title, author or editor of the work and the date of publication
  • a photocopy of the work, if possible, or a description of exactly what is to be used
  • the number of copies that will be made
  • why the copied material will be used
  • whether the material will be sold
  • how the copied material will be distributed
  • how the material will be reprinted (photocopy, typeset, etc.)

Be sure to allow ample time when you are requesting permission to reproduce a work. It can take months to receive a reply and to negotiate with the copyright holder.


If you are using a work in your yearbook that is protected by copyright and you have obtained written permission from the owner to reproduce it, submit a photocopy of that proof of permission to Herff Jones with your pages.

Much copyrighted material is not universally known. Ultimately, only you know whether the material in your yearbook is your own original work. If Herff Jones happens to recognize copyrighted material for which proof of permission has not been furnished, we will notify you of the possibility of copyright infringement. If in doubt, check it out! This is to protect both you and Herff Jones from possible copyright infringement and litigation resulting from infringement.

Your Printing Agreement with Herff Jones provides that you assume all legal liability for failure to obtain permission to use copyrighted material.


Copyright law involves intangible, intellectual property. It is often complicated and can be interpreted in different ways by different individuals. If you plan to include anything in your yearbook that is not your own, such as a photo, a song lyric or a cartoon character, it is always best to consult the owner of the copyright.

    For more information about copyright issues, contact:
    Student Press Law Center
    1101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1100
    Arlington, VA 22209-2275
    Telephone: 703.807.1904

Herff Jones always recommends that a school confer with its attorney prior to submitting material that may be copyrighted.

This guideline is provided as a courtesy to customers of Herff Jones, Inc. It is not intended to be used in lieu of the advice of a qualified attorney.

Copyright Law: A Primer, Student Press Law Center Report, Winter 1988-89, pp. 34-36.

Lanquist, Jr. Edward D., Patent, Copyright and Trademark Law for the General Practitioner
Answering Questions and Dispelling the Myths, 1993.

**Originally published on

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The Purpose of Yearbook

In the children’s book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, a young boy searches for ways to find lost memories for an old woman who had lost her own. Through his persistent questions and vivid imagination, he inspires her to remember events from her past.

A yearbook should allow any reader to do the same when it is visited years later. But let’s be honest. The most thorough inspection any yearbook is going to get happens within hours and days of the distribution of that book. Years later, specific spreads and certain people may be revisited, but few people spend their time reading every article; they are too busy with the latest best-seller or iPod download.

Clearly, the memories a yearbook captures must be as relevant in May or August when the book comes out as in 20 or 30 years. So many events occur during a school year that scenes from Homecoming seem like a distant memory in May, especially after Prom.

With that in mind, what is the real purpose of the yearbook? With blogs and Facebook and easily shared digital photos, why do people still care about the yearbook? Is it the perfect place, as the daughter of a friend claims, to write heartfelt sentiments about friendship? Is it the proper forum to address controversial issues? And is it an accurate reflection of the people who not only immersed themselves into sports and clubs, but also of those who chose more diverse interests?

The straightforward answer is that the yearbook is a publication that reflects the events and lives of people involved with a school during that given year. Historically, yearbooks were little more than picture books, often including literary works and art. With the explosion of desktop publishing in the last few decades, yearbooks have become even more journalistic, reflecting not only the design and photographic capabilities now available, but including coverage that showcases everything from reporting of events to first-person profiles.

In these ways, the yearbook still fulfills some standard roles: it is a memory book, a history book, a record book, and/or a reference book. Some also believe that it is a public relations tool for that particular school. While a yearbook should be all of the above, I would like to add three adjectives to the list of things a yearbook should be: honest, thorough and accurate.

These descriptors may, at first glance, seem contradictory. For example, some believe that you cannot provide honest coverage and still serve as a “public relations” tool. But the beauty of the yearbook is that the students can choose to cover the topics in student life that reflect their student body without feeling an obligation to cover every aspect of their lives. While not every area must be covered, one that should be included is any world-changing event. I looked at scores of books after 9/11 to see how staffs chose to record and localize this life-altering event. What shocked me most was that some staffs chose to not cover it at all. The yearbook, when used as a reference and history book, should allow future generations to do more than check out weird hairstyles and outdated clothing.


If the baseball team lost every game that year and the coach quit mid-season, that must be covered. Honestly. That does not mean that those two facts need to be the lead or even the focus of the copy. Instead, the staff may choose to focus on the resiliency of the athletes, the work ethic of those who came to two-a-day practices, the bonding activities that kept the team together, whatever made those student athletes show up each day despite the record or the absent coach. That is honest coverage.

I also believe that yearbooks can be honest about controversial topics such as teen pregnancy, drug or alcohol abuse and non-conventional families and still be a public-relations tool. This is where great reporting, sound journalistic standards and individual stories come into play. Rather than merely state that 67 percent of all students are drinking at least once a month, an article might feature a student who is recovering from an accident involving a drunk driver. That statistic can then become part of a first-person profile that celebrates the recovery of that injured student. The reporting is still honest, the topic is still covered, and a student’s story is told in a way that can have far-reaching effects on others.


When I took over the Overland yearbook program in the middle of a school year, most of the book had already gone to press. I discovered that, because students had been producing the book in the absence of an adviser, the book had some serious flaws: no academic section (The kids thought that section was boring.), no band pictures (They didn’t care for the instructor.) and no cheerleaders (I think jealousy played a role there!). That never happened again. While not every event can be covered, the major ones must be, as must all active clubs and all academic areas. If possible, every student in the school should be pictured at least once.

Coverage includes more than a photograph and a caption. Coverage includes interviewing, reporting and writing. Good coverage includes attending events or club meetings or games. Great coverage is what allows a book to truly serve as a memory book.


There is simply no excuse for getting the facts wrong. For the yearbook to be a historical and reference book, the staff must make sure names are spelled correctly, that people are identified in the photos, that the win-loss record for each sports team is listed and that quotes are real and not fabricated.

While these guidelines fit the purpose of the yearbook, I want to add one more thought: the purpose of (“the” intentionally deleted) yearbook.

When I think of the purpose of the yearbook, it is clear that the book itself is an important, permanent document for that year. However, when I think of the “purpose of yearbook,” it is perfectly clear that the process of publishing that book offers an opportunity for students to learn so much—not only about journalism, but about life.

At a spring JEA/NSPA national convention held in San Francisco, one adviser confided that she felt guilty having students take yearbook class because they had so many other obligations competing for their time. I disagreed, respectfully but passionately. I believe that being on the yearbook staff offers students far more rewards than any other commitment they might make in high school.

Yearbook students learn to write for an audience. They learn great picture taking skills. They learn to play well with others. They learn to close a sale. They learn to celebrate each others’ achievements. They learn to meet deadlines. They learn to make friends. They learn to be honest and thorough and accurate.

Just as Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge taught a friend to remember, we will do well to remember just why it is we choose to be involved with yearbooks. There is so much we can all learn from each other.

Contributed by:
Kathy Daly
Retired Herff Jones Special Consultant
Former JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year

**Originally published on

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