20 Unique High School Yearbook Themes and Ideas

Updated June 22, 2022
A Matter of Time Yearbook

A really terrific yearbook theme is one that will thrill your peers when they receive their yearbooks, and be remembered fondly for years to come. Customarily, a yearbook theme is chosen at the beginning of the school year. Since the yearbook staff is traditionally composed of aspiring writers, journalists, photographers, and graphic artists, creativity can run rampant at these meetings. Come prepared with a vision of the ideal yearbook you want to create.

20 Cool Ideas for Yearbook Themes

Get creative and play with these yearbook theme ideas. The suggestions below are just the start of what you can achieve when you seek to create a truly original yearbook. Keep in mind that the best yearbook themes are always inclusive. Never create it with one specific group in mind. You ultimately want to create a memory book the entire class will enjoy collectively.

A Matter of Time

The idea of time is a versatile but always relevant theme for a high school yearbook. You may opt to place different images, photographs, and drawings of how you keep time on pages throughout the book. You may even opt to use different methods to represent each section. For example, an hourglass may represent the senior class, while a wake-up alarm screen may be more appropriate for the first-year students. Choose a pretty font to use for placing quotes about time or lyrics from songs that reference time throughout the book. Of course, no time-centered yearbook theme would be complete without a reference to high school being the time of one's life (at least so far!).

Pop Culture Passion

There's a reason those "the year you were born" cards and videos are so popular to play at birthday celebrations. People love to explore pop culture associated with a certain place and time that is significant to them, such as the year they graduate high school. Teens are sure to enjoy seeing references to things that are popular during their high school years. These pop culture references will become even more meaningful and nostalgic for them years from now. Consider creating pages that resemble the layout of TikTok, Instagram, or other popular social media websites and include lists of the top 10 in movies, music, television, and current events throughout the yearbook. Be sure to keep the focus on teen-related aspects of pop culture.

Superhero Celebration

Superheroes are a pop culture reference to which high schoolers are sure to relate. Consider adopting this theme in a way that highlights the students as the superheroes of the high school experience. Use a comic strip style layout to feature photos of students and their amazing accomplishments. From pictures that show the superheroes who bring school plays to life (whether on stage or behind the scenes), to those who serve as class officers, participate in service projects, tutor younger students, and more, there are plenty of ways to highlight how students make their school, and the world, a better place. Incorporate the pop culture element by including a few quotes from superhero movies or graphic novels. Poll the students to find out which famous superheroes mean the most to them and publish the results.

Emoji Expressions

Emoji Expressions Yearbook

If your goal is to have one of the most hip yearbook themes ever, emojis are a great option. High schoolers have been communicating with emojis their whole lives, so you and your classmates are uniquely qualified to use these expressive icons to tell the story of the school year. Instead of asking each student to include their favorite quote or saying, ask them to choose (or create) an emoji that sums up their feelings about the current academic year, and publish it beside each person's class photo. Come up with creative emoji backgrounds, frames, or watermarks to add emphasis to pages that feature student life photos. You could even have an emoji artwork contest in which students design class emojis that sum up the overall school year. Allow all students to vote to select the one they feel most strongly represents their experience that year, and use it as part of the yearbook cover.

Resilience Rules

Each school year poses its own challenges and opportunities, including situations that require teens to demonstrate just how resilient they are as individuals as well as collectively, as a generation. No matter what individual differences and unique identities exist among members of the student body, resilience is a trait that everyone likely shares. Highlight things students did throughout the school year that demonstrate resilience. Salute various ways the students persevered and rose above challenges by highlighting examples of never-give-up behavior. Ask class members to contribute photos illustrating the various ways they pitched in to help with localized challenges, such as cleaning up after an extreme weather event or other community concerns. Include resilience quotes and tips for building resilience throughout the yearbook.

Make Your Mark

Make Your Mark Yearbook

Encourage students to continue doing great things with a yearbook theme focused on making your mark in the world. Focus on some of the incredible things students are doing now to leave a lasting legacy at the school and in the community. Highlight that year's senior class project as a concrete example of a class legacy. Have students brainstorm words that convey what making their mark on the world means to them, and use the results to create an inspirational word cloud to highlight on the yearbook cover or one of the book's first pages. Spotlight a few notable alumni who made their mark when they were students and continue to do great things that reflect well on the school. Encourage students to come up with a quote related to making their mark to put under their individual class photo in the yearbook. Years from now, students will be able to look back and compare what they wanted to accomplish back in high school to what they have achieved so far.

True Colors

Here's a theme you can really play with, due to the obvious symbolism of "true colors" being the very essence of who your peers really are. This yearbook theme enables you to weave your school colors throughout the book. Stage photographs and take natural ones at events throughout the year that depict students wearing school colors with pride. Depending on your yearbook provider, you may be able to alternate background pages in the school colors. To really drive home the theme. you may even want to include a few quotes or sayings that parallel how the true colors of the individual and the class as a group can shine together.

Choices and Crossroads

Crossroads Yearbook

Celebrate the unlimited choices of the high school years with a cool yearbook theme that accentuates the many crossroads teens face. Bring this theme to life in creative ways within the book. For example, you could narrow in on "the road less traveled" as a reference to the Robert Frost poem and tie in the symbolism of individuality. On the other hand, you could go in the direction of keeping it more general and opt for art that depicts various types of crossroads paired with visual depictions of the types of choices teens face. Accentuate the message that the future is wide open to take whatever path you choose.

We Go Together

Yes, We Go Together is an iconic song from Grease, the ultimate teen musical about high school. It's also a cool idea for a yearbook theme. Create a yearbook that dispels myths and teen stereotypes by featuring photos of friends with vastly different interests. Interview students on the subject of togetherness and inclusion and publish snippets of what they say. Highlight song lyrics about togetherness and acceptance. Consider re-creating the final scene from Grease with a photo of the senior class walking arm in arm, and also publish photos that show band members, cheerleaders, academic champions, and athletes all hanging out together.

Heroes Among Us

Focusing on heroes is an uplifting yearbook theme because it brings attention to those who are working to make the world a better place and those who have overcome incredible odds to achieve good things. Interview student heroes, such as those who volunteer in the community, have faced illness, or who have struggled to overcome obstacles in order to be on sports teams or achieve academic standing. Celebrate teachers who are heroes to students and include words of wisdom from heroes that teens admire, as well as movie or song quotes about heroes. Consider highlighting local adults who are heroes and role models for teens to emulate.

Keeping It Real

The theme of competitive reality shows is ripe for spoofing, and this theme does just that. Make the yearbook seem like a reality show in which each student is the star. Keep it classy, though, and don't pay homage to shows that could be interpreted as making fun of groups of your peers or individuals with unique traits. References from shows like The Masked Singer, Dancing with the Stars, Top Chef, and The Voice can easily be woven into the yearbook because they parallel events that teens experience throughout their high school years. Be sure to accentuate reality programs that are particularly popular during the current school year to keep the yearbook timely. You may want to avoid quotes that don't have a lot of substance, but you can include inspiring ones throughout the yearbook.

Dancing Through Life

Dance Dance Dance Yearbook

Not everybody's a dancer, but dancing through life is a metaphor all teens can relate to in some way. This yearbook theme allows you to bring a focus to the different dances your school has throughout the year, so you'll want to include photos from those events. Art and images of dance can be combined with messages of making the most out of life to create inspirational messages for teens. Consider placing snippets of song lyrics that deal with dance from widely recognized tunes like I Hope You Dance, Life's a Dance, and Dance My Pain Away.

Through the Years

Through the Years celebrates the beauty that continues to develop over time and how individually awesome each year truly was. Play with this theme to include a reference to each year of the students' lives by including past pictures from elementary or middle school events like back-to-school parties alongside current photos. If possible, obtain and include photographs that represent every decade your school has been open. Looking at the past can bring the present and future into clearer focus. Lace important facts about the past 18 years throughout the yearbook, too, in order to celebrate the lives of the senior class. You may opt to play up nostalgia, too, with cute art that pays homage to decades of the past. There are a lot of options with this theme. Be sure to keep focused on the points you want to make to avoid going in too many directions at once.

Life Happens In Moments

Wax poetic about the big and small moments that have made the past school year so very special with this upbeat theme. Not only does it allow you to focus on the big events that happened during the school year, but you can also dedicate a few pages to high school nostalgia. Accentuate the moments that might be otherwise overlooked. Yes, the moment when the homecoming queen is crowned should be included in all its anticipated glory, but you also want to give the underdogs a chance to shine in the school's annual. Capture exciting moments throughout students' lives in all sorts of ways by asking teens what is most exciting in their lives. Include photos from events within and outside school if possible. Weave the text around making each moment count and include content focused on living in the moment.

Moments That Matter

Instead of focusing on moments from traditional school events or the joy of living in the moment, choose a theme that empowers students to curate a collection of memorable moments from throughout the year. If you select this theme, encourage students to nominate key events that represent notable moments that took place during the school year. Come up with categories to help students brainstorm for ideas to submit, such as the most newsworthy event, most unexpected moment, most surprising announcement, etc. Allow for general nominations that don't fit into a specific category, in order to encourage maximum creativity. After the nomination deadline, encourage students to vote on their top choices to highlight in the yearbook. Re-create some of the selected moments for photo opportunities. Include a few blank text boxes with lines for writing so students have some designated places to personalize their copy with moments that are particularly meaningful to them.

Kidding Around

High school can get serious, so having a humor-themed yearbook can truly delight students. A yearbook with this theme should be specifically designed to help students have a good time in good taste and with kind intentions. Include cartoons or doodle images throughout the annual to keep the lighthearted feel of this theme apparent from the first glance at the yearbook cover. You may opt to narrow in on one particular kind of comedy art to display throughout the book, or mix things up a bit with a variety of cartoons or line drawings drawn by creative students. Place jokes at special places throughout the yearbook, and feature fun photos that show students laughing and having a good time. Exclude any sort of mean-spirited or adult humor. Keep the focus on school-related humor appropriate for teens.

Express Yourself

Implement a self-expression theme throughout the yearbook to bring the focus back to the individuals who receive it. This is essentially a celebration of the individual student. Celebrate the ways students march to the beat of their own drum with drumming images and references. Try to ensure that all students are equally represented in school photographs throughout the book, so everyone can find themselves among the pages. Include an index at the back to make it easy to locate each student, a feature that will make it easy for the yearbook committee to keep up with how often each student appears. Supply journaling prompts throughout the book to encourage each student to personalize their own yearbook, beyond just getting the typical signatures from friends.

Playing to Win

If there's one thing that many teens can't get enough of, it's playing video games. Choose this theme for a playful yearbook that pays homage to the video games that are popular this year. You can also take this in the direction of the metaphor of playing to win at life. What's so different between striking out in a video game and missing test questions? Well, aside from the fact that one can impact a grade and affect other aspects of life. The layout can be informed by the images and screens that reflect popular video games. You may even want to have class members vote on which video games should be referenced in the yearbook. Use video game terminology throughout the text when drawing on the metaphor of playing a game and fighting your way through the teen years.

Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change Yearbook

The changing seasons are a great metaphor for the many changes that teenagers go through, from their freshmen year to when they are seniors ruling the school. You can use gorgeous, greatly contrasted colors to separate the seasons. Include sections for summer, autumn, winter, and spring with coinciding text and photographs that chronicle the actual journey through the seasons at school. You can also metaphorically capture the many changes that teens face throughout high school. You may opt to include a poem for each season or quotes about change. The tone should be encouraging. Although change can be scary, it can also be very exciting.

Ready for Your Big Screen Close-Up

Choose a movie-themed yearbook to really make students smile. Most teenagers love watching movies, so film-related topics are among the best themes for yearbooks. From taking a class photograph in a movie theater to snapping individual portraits on the red carpet, there are a lot of ways to make the pictures throughout the book fit with a movie theme. You may opt to separate sections of the yearbook to pay homage to iconic teen movies and/or select a cover design that emulates a famous movie poster. Include inspiring, humorous, and age-appropriate movie quotes, and interview students about their favorite films. Put scrapbook-like sections in the yearbook where teens can place movie memorabilia or write lists of favorite flicks that they watched during the school year.

Tips for Developing Your High School Yearbook Theme Ideas

Explore a variety of high school yearbook themes and ideas before making the final selection. Brainstorming for unique yearbook themes and selecting one is just the start of this fun, ambitious project. It will take a year and a staff of students to craft and perfect this important keepsake book. While developing your ideas, keep the tips below in mind.

  • Always give proper credit to the person (or people) who suggest the ideas that are ultimately chosen. That means openly thanking them in meetings and placing their name in the yearbook with a note of appreciation.
  • Ask for input from students who are not on the yearbook staff. The best yearbook theme ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, even from class mottos. Creative feedback from students with fresh eyes can help propel a simple theme into a complex, fun masterpiece.
  • When choosing a theme, it is important to remain timeless. People keep their yearbooks for a lifetime. While pop culture ideas can work wonders, it is also wise to select a theme that won't have you cringing at your ten-year reunion.
  • Choose classic styles that project your school's unique flair without relying too heavily upon trends that may not age well. Your yearbook should be a scrapbook of memories, not a moment frozen awkwardly in time.
  • After your fantastic theme has been chosen, then the real fun begins. Incorporate the opinions and suggestions of all those involved in its creation, and you will guarantee a year full of creative fun and incredible memories.

Have Fun With Your Yearbook Theme

While you do have a big responsibility to your entire student body when crafting the right sort of yearbook, keep in mind that the reason that you are on the yearbook staff in the first place likely had nothing to do with stressing about deadlines. Enjoy coming up with creative yearbook themes to consider, then find ways to bring the chosen theme to life once a decision has been made. Keep a sense of fun throughout the whole process and remember to enjoy the journey. Next, get some inspiring high school journal prompts.

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20 Unique High School Yearbook Themes and Ideas