Yearbook Land: Where does the closing go?

As you know, I am a high school journalism teacher. My students produce a monthly magazine and a yearbook. We recently completed our 2017 yearbook. We went with a chronological design in which we grouped everything by season (fall, winter, spring) with sections inside each season focusing on aspects of the school year such as sports and student life.

We have been doing this type of book for the past few years. In critiques, we usually get a decent amount of positive feedback. However, one strike against us is always where we place the closing spread (a spread is two facing pages), which is essentially the conclusion of the book.

See, we put the closing before the ad pages and the index, which is where we have every student listed in alphabetical order with the page numbers where they appear in the book. It makes it easy for the students to find themselves. After all, most high school students buy the yearbook to see themselves and their friends in the book. Only later does the value of being able to look back at the year really become evident to them.

Anyway, because we place our closing where we do, we receive marks in the negative column. Here is what one critique said:

“Put the closing at the end of the book instead of before the advertisements.”

I realize that isn’t a harsh criticism, but it still puzzles me and frustrates my students. Why would the closing of the book go after the ads and the index? At the beginning of the book, we put the title page and then the opening spread. That makes sense.

For me, putting the closing before the ads and the index makes sense too. The ads and the index are not part of the content of the book. They are supplemental pages. A textbook doesn’t have the glossary before the conclusion, so why in a yearbook should the ads and the index be before the closing?

To me, the opening and closing at the bookends to the content of the yearbook. They enclose the coverage of the year. Therefore, anything appearing between these two spreads should be contributing to the coverage of the year. It needs to directly address and engage the target audience. The ads don’t do that, though the generosity of the advertisers is crucial for the yearbook’s success. Likewise, the index, though incredibly useful for the readers, does not contribute to the coverage of the yearbook. It is a supplemental tool for navigating the book.

Am I wrong?  For the 2018 yearbook should I advise my students to put the closing in a different location?

I would love to hear what you think. Either leave a comment or shoot me note.

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