Creating a Ladder for Traditional Coverage
WHAT IS A LADDER
Just as you would never attempt to build a house without blueprints, you should never begin a yearbook without a ladder. “Ladder” is the yearbook term for a page-by-page diagram showing the yearbook’s contents. Spring is a perfect time to plan the next year’s ladder while recent challenges are fresh in your mind. The number of pages to include in the book is based on financial considerations and the number of students at the school. Once you determine the number of pages in the book, you must choose the content for each page. Thoroughly filling out the ladder diagram in detail creates a blueprint for your book.
THE PROCESS FOR PLANNING YOUR LADDER
1. DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF PAGES IN YOUR YEARBOOK
It’s most common to begin with the number of pages in your previous book. If you know there will be significantly more or fewer students/clubs/sports/events, you should check with your rep about changing the page count.
2. SUBTRACT THE NUMBER OF PAGES NEEDED FOR THEME PAGES
Theme pages include the title page, the last page, the opening and closing spreads, and the divider pages for each section.
3. DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF PAGES NEEDED FOR THE PEOPLE SECTION
To calculate the number of pages necessary for the people section, answer the following questions:
- How many students are in each grade at your school?
- How many panel pictures will fit on each page?
- How many faculty will be photographed?
Do the math to determine the number of pages needed in the people section. Be sure to leave space on each people spread to include a feature article, candid photo and headline or an alternative copy treatment such as a poll, survey or quiz. If there are seniors enrolled at your school, will their photos be larger in size or treated differently? They may need to fit within complete signatures if, for example, you opt to set them apart with glossy UV coating.
4. DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF PAGES NEEDED FOR SPORTS
Allow one complete spread for each varsity sport, including cheerleading. Allow one spread to be shared by JV teams or JV and freshman teams. For example, girls JV volleyball might share a spread with boys JV volleyball. Freshmen and JV football could be combined on one spread.
5. DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF PAGES NEEDED FOR CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS
Before you can come up with the plan for coverage of school groups, you need a complete list of all organizations from the activities director. Check previous books to determine whether co-curricular groups like bands, choir, orchestra, newspaper, yearbook, ROTC and others have been covered in this section or academics. Some schools assign major groups a full spread and create spreads where they can cover like clubs (all honoraries, all service clubs, all class councils) together on a single spread. Others allocate pages in a reference section for all group photos plus brief factoids and do spreads on topics like initiation, leadership, competition, meetings and fundraisers in the coverage section, making sure that all groups are included and none are over-covered.
6. DETERMINE THE NUMBER OF PAGES NEEDED FOR ADS/INDEX
Use last year’s book as a guide for estimating the number of pages needed for the ads/index section.
7. DISTRIBUTE THE REMAINING PAGES AMONG THE OTHER SECTIONS OF THE YEARBOOK
Below is an example for a 232-page book:
- – 16 theme pages (includes title page, last page, one opening spread, one closing spread and five divider spreads)
- – 16 senior pages (192 seniors total ÷ 12 portraits/page, plus additional coverage)
- – 10 junior pages (250 juniors total ÷ 50 portraits/2 pg spread, plus additional coverage)
- – 8 sophomore pages (200 soph. total ÷ 50 portraits/2 pg spread, plus additional coverage)
- – 10 freshmen pages (250 freshmen total ÷ 50 portraits/2 pg spread, plus additional coverage)
- – 4 faculty pages (60 faculty total ÷ 30 portraits/2 pg spread)
- – 42 sports pages (a total of 21 spreads)
- – 20 clubs & organizations pages ( a total of 10 spreads)
- – 18 ads and index pages
- 144 pages
This leaves 88 remaining pages to be used for coverage of academics and student life as well as any other additions you imagine. Remember that it’s your responsibility to create an all-inclusive record of the year that can be returned to long after graduation. If it’s an official club or sport, it should be included somehow. Many schools also set the goal of including all students and faculty at least once in addition to their portrait; some go as far as suggesting that everyone on campus will be in the yearbook at least three times.
color planning for books that are not all color
Yearbooks are printed in groups of 16 pages called signatures. Every signature is made up of two flats of 8 pages called Flat A and Flat B. Color placement is determined by signature or flat.
You could choose to print Flat A, Flat B or both flats of any signature in color. In Example A, pages 1, 4–5, 8–9, 12–13 and 16 comprise Flat A and pages 2–3, 6-7, 10–11 and 14–15 comprise Flat B.
It is important that you place the color in your yearbook carefully. A ladder diagram can help you plan your color pages. Let’s say, for example, only one flat (eight pages) of color is to be used in the first 16 pages of a book and the title page needs to be in color.
The title page is on Flat A; so, pages 1, 4-5, 8-9, 12-13 and 16 would print in color. For our example, pages 2-3, 6-7, 10-11 and 14-15 would print in black and white. In Example B, Flat A is shown in blue and Flat B is shown in green.
16 pages in one signature
8 pages in one flat
2 flats in one signature
Flat A = pages 1, 4-5, 8-9, 13-13 and 16
Flat B = pages 2-3, 6-7, 10-11 and 14-15
A ladder showing two signatures.
Each signature is separated visually and
each flat is denoted by color. The blue lines
indicate Flat A of each signature and the
green lines indicate Flat B.
Final pages of the yearbook (typically one to three pages) where the theme is concluded.
Eight pages on one side of a signature. In the first signature of the yearbook, for example, pages 1, 4–5, 8–9, 12–13 and 16 make up one flat. Pages 2–3, 6–7, 10–11 and 14–15 make up the other flat.
A page-by-page listing of the yearbook’s contents. Yearbook staffs use the ladder to stay organized and to plan for deadlines.
The first one or two spreads of the yearbook which introduce the theme.
A 16-page sheet of paper stock made up of two sides or 8-page flats. Yearbooks are printed in signatures which are then folded, stitched and trimmed, then collated.
Two facing or side-by-side pages in the yearbook such as 2–3, 4–5, 6–7, etc.
Page one of the yearbook. It should include the name of the book, the name of the school, the complete school address, the volume number and year. The school telephone number, web address, enrollment and other details are also required information that give the volume value through the years.
Mary Kay Downes, MJE, prides herself on being in the know. She’s advised the Chantilly High School yearbook for more than 30 years. But this surprised her.
Interviewing is so much more than just getting a good quote. Learn how to make your yearbook copy come alive with the art of the interview.
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