How to Make a School Yearbook or High School Annual

UPDATE  August 2008  dotPhoto has imported the best book-making software in the world.  But don’t believe us, download the dotPhotoBook software free at www.dotphotobooks.com and read the About.com review:

In a crowded field of photobooks,
dotPhoto Books from dotPhoto
easily outshines the competition.

“The DotPhotoBook offers more features and capabilities than most other products on the market. The options in binding and book size combine with the nearly boundless flexibility of design and a easy to use book creator software to allow the home photographer to create excellent photo books. The quality of the materials used in the books is excellent and would match or exceed what you find in a bookstore.”

Free software download:  www.dotphotobooks.com

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Last year, I volunteered to help with the yearbook at my daughter’s tiny high school.  Sometime later, the person who usually handled the yearbook retired, and then, a few weeks before the end of the year, two students presented me with a couple of photo CDs.

I searched the web for instructions on making a yearbook. Finding none, I put together this list of ideas that could apply to making any yearbook.

You might also want to refer to Print anything in a dotPhoto book. It explains how you can create any page that includes both text and graphics with your current layout software

Suggestions for creating a yearbook at dotPhoto:

  • Get a photo in the 5” square cutout on the front of the book.  This leaves plenty of room for signing autographs and messages around the cover photo.

  • Start by editing the photos:  pick the best and discard the rest.  Crop the best images.

  • Keep the happy photos – even if they’re not the best photos.  The quality of the expression will be more important that the quality of the image.  Memories are about emotions, and capturing emotions is the goal of a good yearbook.

  • Look for interesting sequences to group together:  the same person in sequence can tell an amusing or interesting story.

  • Sort the photos into logical groups:  teachers, staff, games, trips.  This will help identify sections that you might want to add, and will also create opportunities to create photo montages.

  • Every yearbook has some whimsical photos.  Try adding a few digital effects:  a halo, artistic effect or dramatic lighting can add interest.  Paint Shop Pro is great for this kind of thing.  PSP Free download 30-day trial

    Photo effects from Paint Shop Pro

  • Create a page or two about events of the year. Wikipedia is a great source. Your graduates will be reading these pages in 20 years with interest.   Wikipedia 2006 events

  • Student photos are easy to lay out.  We chose the 6-per-page layout on dotPhoto so that we’d have room for captions.  You can use the dotPhoto Re-arrange feature to put the photos in order, and then drag-and-drop them into the layout.

    Dropping and dragging student photos into dotPhoto’s 6-per-page layout

  • Photo montages add interest.  Start with a blank page and cut and paste the most interesting parts of your best photos. Re-size to fit spaces that you’re trying to fill in.  Don’t worry about creating a perfect page;  the randomness of the montage is engaging.

    Photo montages lend interest

  • Add a parting shot on the last page.  Pick one iconic photo or a group of interesting photos to say good-by.  We picked some goofy pictures including a photo of the yearbook committee in glasses.

    “Parting shot” montage on the last page.

Our students were thrilled with their yearbooks.  They were used to getting output from a color copier, which, given prices for color copies, was probably more expensive!  This year, they got a hardcover book with stitched binding that told their story, and will help them remember the friends, teachers and events of this school year.

There are several great benefits of making a yearbook at dotPhoto:

  • It can be done quickly.  While professional yearbook companies require months of advance notice, you can create and print a dotPhoto Yearbook in two weeks.

  • Since you’re not printing months in advance, you can print more of the year.

  • A dotPhoto book is all color.  Most yearbooks are full of mainly black and white pages.

  • Typical yearbooks today are $75;  dotPhoto yearbooks start at about $25.

  • Typical yearbooks require commitments of hundreds of books.  At dotPhoto, you can order exactly as many as you need, and order one more anytime you want.

  • You can also use the same images to create a dotPhoto Web Site (See My Web Site tab) or a dotPhoto Show about the school year.

dotPhoto Show Tips

How can I turn off the dotPhoto Show music?
Doh!  We tried it ourselves and then asked the designers:  in Edit, click on the green arrow to turn off music.  If no green arrow appears anywhere, there is no music.  We’re changing the interface to make it more obvious. 

How can I associate my dotPhoto Shows with a particular album so that my edited shows are displayed on my dotPhoto Web Site?
Actually, here’s how it’s supposed to work:  you upload your photos, edit a Show in that album, and the edited Show becomes the default Show for that album. You can connect any Show as the default for any album:  go to album settings and choose which Show to associate with the album.

Your best deals at dotPhoto

Sooner or later, we all want prints.  We want to know that we’ve got copies somewhere for the day that the world runs out of power or we can’t read our CDs or whatever – it’s just nice to have printed copies.   

We observe that behavior in our customers.  People pile up digital images and then, every few months, print a bunch of photos.  Here are two secrets for printing at the lowest possible price. 

“Bulk” Printing
Years ago, dotPhoto invented “bulk” printing, which is now sometimes called “prepaid”.  You buy the rights to print a number of prints – usually 4x6s.  Many people ask whether the prints must be the same image:  no, you can print 500 different images or 250 doubles or whatever you want.  You can use some bulk credits now and some later;  you’ve got a year to use them up. 

As I write this, 500 bulk prints are selling for just $49.95 or about 10 cents each, but there are also packages and smaller monthly print plans that are real deals.  To check out current bulk prices, click here. 

The Secret Best Print Deal:  lower cost than loose prints!
The very least expensive way to print photos – and far and away the best – is in a photo book.  At today’s sale price, book prints work out to just 8.83 cents per image and include the book with stitched binding.  Even when the books are not on sale, the price per image is just 11.77 cents each – it’s like getting the best deal on prints plus a free photo album plus having someone put the prints in the album for you! 

Here’s how this works.  In a cloth book, choose the 12-photo-per-page layout.  You also get one larger photo on the title page for a total of 229 photos. 

Incremental pages are even less:  at 99 cents per page with 12 images, the next image is only 8.25 cents.   

For current photo book information and pricing, click here. 

The easiest way to produce a book is to start a new album and copy the photos and albums that you want to print into it.  It’s easy to put together the 229 images you want, order them by capture date and print a book. 

For information on how to print ANYTHING in a dotPhoto book, click here.

Uploading to dotPhoto

We have recently changed our uploading process to enable drop-and-drag and to make uploading more reliable.  However, we may be “hiding our light under a bushel.”  Here are a few tips to help explain the new process:  “Uploading” is called, through the initial stages of the process, “Add.”  You’ll see “Add” in the upper left corner of the screen: 

  • Click on the arrows next to “Add” to access the “Add photos” or “Add videos” function.  (“Add videos” is only available if you are a Pictavision or Video subscriber.

  • Click on the “Organize” arrow to access the “Create new album” function. 

 

You’ll be asked to click on an “Add your new photos” button, and, if this is your first time uploading, dotPhoto will attempt to install the upload tool.  At this point, Microsoft Windows requires that you approve the new tool.  Go toward the top of the screen, click on the yellow line, and follow the instructions to install the DPimageUploader tool.

 

Once you’re installed the upload tool, follow these three steps:

  1. Find the directory where your photos are stored.

  2. Choose the photos you want by selecting all or by dragging the ones you want to the lower section.

  3. Click on the “Upload” button.

   

Complete Uploading FAQ

Uploading from your camera phone to dotPhoto

There are two ways to upload photos from your camera phone to dotPhoto: 

  1. Set up your phone’s email address in your dotPhoto account information, and email photos directly to upload@dotphoto.com   (See more below.)

  2. Buy Pictavision 5 from your carrier.  The latest version of Pictavision is available in the U.S. on more advanced phones from Verizon Wireless, Alltel and Intellos.  It will be available on most BREW carriers soon, but the software manages every aspect of the phone including camera control, so it requires a fairly advanced phone.  Pictavision 5 also enables you to speak a voice caption with each photo that is saved on dotPhoto and becomes a part of your dotPhoto Shows.  If you subscribe to Pictavision, you automatically receive free video storage after the first time that you access your dotPhoto account from your phone.

    See the explanatory Pictavision 5 video.

More on uploading photos from your phonePhones from every major carrier should be able to upload photos and short videos to dotPhoto by emailing them.  If you don’t know your phone’s email address, try emailing a photo to your standard email address and look at the return address when the mail arrives; the return address is your phone’s email.  

I’ve made it easier to send emails to dotPhoto from my phone by setting up upload@dotphoto as AAA dotPhoto in my address book:  I don’t have to type in the address or scroll through my address book every time I take a photo. 

For more about camera phones at dotPhoto, click here

For the FAQ on uploading from your cell phone, click here.

Getting fast answers or help at dotPhoto

Getting help at dotPhoto

I’m happy to try to answer your questions about dotPhoto, but if you want an answer immediately, please try our support database.  We’ve spent a fortune with RightNow Technologies to make our FAQs searchable, and, if they don’t work for you, we’d like to hear about it!

Just enter any part of your question here, and we’ll show you the questions and answers that most other people have asked about that topic like this:

 

We also respond to emails at support@dotphoto.com and calls to 609/ 434-0340.  Our customer service manager is Charlene Devito.  She’s been with dotPhoto since almost the beginning and she really cares about our customers.

Printing ANYTHING in a dotPhoto book

The problem with online photo book printing is that most web sites lock you into specific layouts. We all try to compensate with multiple page designs, but, sooner or later, you want to show something that doesn’t fit into a rectangle. For instance, you might want to publish a book of poetry, a high school annual or just a few pages of text among your usual photo layouts.

With inexpensive desktop software tools, you can print anything you want in a dotPhoto photo book.  Fortunately, dotPhoto’s pages print all the way to the edge (“full bleed” in printer’s parlance), so you can design whatever you want on a full page using software that you already know on your own computer, convert your designs to a JPG, and upload that image as a page in your dotPhoto book.  Your page design could have a collage of photos, text and photos, all text – whatever you want.

Here’s a sample page that I designed for the custom album of a small high school.  It included two web graphics that were “upsized” to 300 dpi, a photo and text. The page was laid out in Adobe InDesign CS 2, and the final print product looked terrific. (This example is sized for the web because the 300 dpi version would be too big to display.)

This is great because it means that you can use Pagemaker, Adobe InDesign, Word, PowerPoint, Paint Shop Pro – whatever you already know that works for you.  You don’t have to learn a lot of new web software or work with the sometimes tedious online book interfaces. Just design your pages with what you know, convert to JPGs and upload your pages to dotPhoto.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You’ll need software to convert your original designs to JPGs, which we’ll discuss below.  (You can try it for free.)

  • Convert to 300 dots per inch (dpi) for best printing and, at a minimum, 200 dpi.

  • The pages in the dotPhoto “Yearbook” product are 11.5 inches wide by 9.5 inches tall.  Try to output your pages to that size, or create a blank page of 11.5 by 9.5, and paste your date onto the new page.

Converting your software’s output to JPGs
The folks at 602Software have a pretty good JPG routine that allows you to “print” directly from your software to a JPG; in other words, you’re getting a new printer driver that you use when you want to make JPGs instead of paper prints. They’ve been honing this through five versions and it works well, too. The only problem I had was getting the output to be exactly 11.5” x 9.5”, but this can be solved by creating a new JPG to size and placing the old image in the middle of it.

You can try 602Print Pack 5 here for free, and it’s $39.95 if you decide to keep it.

Converting PDF files to JPGs
Programs like Adobe InDesign CS2 are perfect for page layout and poster design.  InDesign will even export JPGs, but even the maximum resolution allowed is too small to print.  The solution is to export to PDF files, which allow higher resolution, and to convert the PDFs to JPGs.  There are many utilities for this, but some simply don’t work as advertised.  We like the ABC Amber PDF to JPG product, which works well in the trial version (the trial version adds an advertisement at the bottom of your JPG.)  It’s cheap, too – just $19.95 – but the company takes a few hours to process your order and send the registration key.  Try the free download here.

Centering the first-page image in your book
dotPhoto Yearbooks include a “cut out” that is exactly 5 inches square that shows a portion of the image on your title page. Since a typical digital image ends up measuring about 8 and 3/8 inches by 6 inches, it’s a challenge to get a 5 x 5 image to show through the window, but you can get close by creating an 8.375” x 6” image blank image with the 5” x 5” image in the center.  Even better: allow for a quarter inch “slippage” around the square so that no white space shows around the box.