Yearbook Creator

Create Highschool Yearbooks in InDesign

Yearbook Creator Sample Page

Yearbooks have two main parts. The fun part is creative, designed, free, and needs a human designer!

But the bulk of many yearbooks is the section that includes the many pages of standard photos of kids and staff, arranged in rows and columns. Each photo usually has the person’s name beneath it.

In this section, students are usually sorted by grade, with each grade starting on a fresh spread. Within each grade, students are usually arranged alphabetically.

There can easily be hundreds of pictures in this section.

At least in the US, school photographers have a standard way of arranging the photos on disc. A datafile accompanies the graphic files, where each grade has it’s own subfolder.

The datafile is essentially a .csv (comma delimited file) that includes columns for first name, last name, grade, and name of photo.

The graphic designer then has the Sisyphean task of placing the photos onto InDesign spreads, matching each photo with the correct caption, dividing the kids according to grades, and sorting them alphabetically (they are sorted in the data file neither according to grade nor alphabetically).

If latecomers (kids who were absent on the day yearbook photos were taken) must be inserted later, it can be difficult to rearrange everything. Likewise if deletions need to be made.

I was approached a while ago by a yearbook company who were wondering if this part of the yearbook, at least, couldn’t be automated.

The answer, of course, was yes. And thus Yearbook Creator, an InDesign add-on for effortlessly creating yearbooks in InDesign, was born.

Yearbook Creator UI

Yearbook Creator

Yearbook Creator is PSPA-ready. It expects to receive the database files according to the standard set by the Professional School Photographer’s Association. If you do not have a PSPA-ready data file, though, no worries! It is easy to make by hand, in Excel. See below for more details. Yearbook Creator makes light work of laying out the photo-grid section. It reads the datafile, sorts it according to grades, allows the user to choose which grades to include and which to exclude, allows the user to specify basic layout parameters (size of live area on the page, number of columns and rows per page, distance between columns and rows, etc.), and within seconds builds the finished pages.

But it doesn’t end there. Because Yearkbook Creator was programmed by someone who is actually familiar with InDesign and uses it daily (yours truly), it builds the pages using best practice.

This means that photos can easily be added or deleted, and all other photos shift to close the gap or make room!

It means that it is easy to make space for a headline on a page, or a feature image.

InDesign is a powerful program if used correctly, and Yearbook Creator takes full advantage of this to create layouts that are really easy to work with and change and adapt.

So if you’re working on yearbooks in InDesign, click on the button below to grab your copy of Yearbook Creator! I think you’ll be excited when you see what a quick and easy job it makes of what used to be the hardest part of making a yearbook in InDesign!

No PSPA-ready data file? No worries!

Yearbook Creator works out of the box when your photo files are arranged in accordance with PSPA guidelines (Guidelines for Portrait CDs). If they are not, though, starting from version 1.1 of Yearbook Creator, it is easy to create an Excel datafile that will work.

All you need is an Excel file (make sure to save it as a .csv file, not an .xlsx file) with at least 5 columns, with the following headings. The columns can be in any order, but it is important that the headings at the top of the columns be exactly as follows: Folder, Filename, Last Name, First Name, Homeroom

For each row of the file (one row per person), in the Folder column should appear the name of the folder that contains the image (the “mugshot”). If the folder of the image is in the same directory as the datafile itself (as per PSPA guidelines), just type the name of the folder (this is known as a “relative” path). If the folder is elsewhere on your computer, type the full path (not including the image filename) here. (This is known as an “absolute” path.) Example: “Grade10” (relative path), or “C:/Users/Dan/Yearbooks/Grade10” (absolute path, Windows) or “/Users/Dan/Yearbooks/Grade10” (absolute path, Mac).

For each row of the file, under the Filename heading, type the exact name of the image to use. E.g., photo123.jpg.

The First Name and Last Name columns should contain the first names and last names of the students or staff, and the Homeroom column should include the grade of the students, or the word “Staff” (or any other description you like).

Here’s an example of a valid Excel (.csv) file. It has more than 5 columns, but that’s fine. So long as it has the 5 required columns (Folder, Filename, Last Name, First Name, Homeroom), in any order, the other columns make no difference and will be ignored.

Valid Datafile Sample

Video Tutorial

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Yearbook Creator: $129.00 / year


System Requirements

  • InDesign CS6 or higher (including InDesign 2024)
  • Windows or Mac computer

“Thank you for this software, it was very useful to us and we are definitely going to be renewing the subscription for next year!”

Nada Al Mousawi, St Christopher's School, Bahrain

Article Comments

  1. Yoel Broderick

    April 15, 2019 3:23 am Reply

    Great Idea! So beneficial!
    whats the OK check box for?

  2. Ariel

    April 15, 2019 11:52 am Reply

    Hi Yoel,
    The list on the left with the checkboxes is a list of all the grades that appear in the data file. If 0K (zero-K) appears, it’s because it’s in the photographer-supplied datafile.
    I think 0K is kindergarden, PK is preschool, K1 first grade, etc…

  3. Anne-Marie Concepcion

    April 15, 2019 9:25 pm Reply

    Hey there, sounds great! But why “get in touch”? Not possible to offer as a commercial script/plugin?

    • Ariel

      April 15, 2019 9:43 pm Reply

      Hi AM,
      Good question. If someone wants the product exactly as previewed, it is available. But I’d like to get to know the market a little first. So it would be great to get a chance to talk to prospective yearbook makers and get feedback first, maybe do a custom demonstration and hear their thoughts.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if most people need some degree of customization for this particular script. Maybe some basic functions are still missing.
      Maybe soon I will offer it as a regular item in the Id-Extras library.

  4. Katie Chung

    June 10, 2019 9:42 am Reply

    Is Yearbook Creator free for download?

    • Ariel

      June 10, 2019 11:57 am Reply

      Hi Katie,

      No, it’s not a free product. Also, it probably needs to be customized individually somewhat for each style of yearbook. So if you have a yearbook project coming up and would like to automate it, get in touch by email and I’ll be happy to discuss.

  5. K Daniel

    June 21, 2019 12:32 am Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to help reduce the tedium that can sometimes come with these projects :)

  6. Dee Joy

    July 2, 2021 8:19 am Reply

    I am interested in using this software to create a directory but will have a PSPA formatted file. Is there still additional customization that will be needed.

    • Ariel

      July 2, 2021 1:37 pm Reply

      Hi Dee,
      If you need to create a yearbook and have a PSPA-formatted disc of images you should be all set.

  7. Mark Oliver

    December 9, 2021 7:09 pm Reply

    Is this script compatible with ID 2022? I’m not having any success.

  8. Sherrie

    March 5, 2022 3:39 pm Reply

    I have a photo project coming up. Instead of people I will have pages of people standing with their tractors and I need to label each photo with the make , model or tractor and everyone in the photo. The printer wants this done indesign software. Could I make any of your software work for this?

    • Ariel

      March 27, 2022 1:19 am Reply

      Hi Sherrie,
      Sorry for the delay in responding.
      If your photos are arranged according PSPA guidelines it should work fine.

  9. NL

    April 18, 2022 10:56 pm Reply

    Can I use this just to create the portrait pages in InDesign and then save/export them to insert in a larger yearbook file? Will other Adobe users be able to view/use the exported pages if I make them using my ID?

    • Ariel

      April 19, 2022 1:22 pm Reply

      Yes, sure. Yearbook Creator places the photos and captions in a regular InDesign file, and doesn’t leave any traces behind — you’re left with a plain-vanilla InDesign file with all the photos in place, that can be opened by anyone with InDesign.
      So you could certainly copy those pages over to a different InDesign file, or save or export them as needed.

  10. Evan

    May 5, 2022 5:34 pm Reply

    Great product. I understand how to duplicate an entry in indesign so I can type over the duplicated student name with the student who missed photo day. But how do I replace the duplicated photo so that the new photo becomes part of the flow and not just sitting on top of the duplicated entry?

    Thanks for your insight.

    • Ariel

      May 5, 2022 5:55 pm Reply

      Hi Evan,
      Glad you’re finding it useful!
      So, let’s say you need to manually add a latecomer to the pages of photos.
      As you say, the easiest way is to duplicate an existing photo, so that it becomes part of the text flow.
      To replace the actual student photo, select the photo you want to replace (the one you’ve just duplicated), open the Links panel in InDesign, and you should find that that photo is highlighted.
      In the Links panel, select “Relink”, and select the replacement photo, and that should be it.
      Post back if that doesn’t work for you.

  11. Evan

    May 5, 2022 7:57 pm Reply

    Figured out the relink so thank you. Another question: Is there a way to control where the student’s name shows up. Right now, I have too much space between the photo and the name.

    • Ariel

      May 5, 2022 8:48 pm Reply

      It should be possible to modify things by changing the definition of the object style that applies to the text frame with the name. For instance, you could change the “first baseline” option of the Caption object style to the “Fixed” settings, and that would give you complete control over the vertical positioning of the name.

  12. evan

    May 5, 2022 9:01 pm Reply

    You are so helpful. Thank you!!

  13. Evan

    May 6, 2022 10:30 pm Reply

    Question: What is determining the position of the image container? I am trying to have less white space between rows.

    • Ariel

      May 7, 2022 11:14 pm Reply

      Hi Evan,
      The photos and captions are grouped together for each student. They are then placed as inline objects in a text frame. So, it’s the size of that text frame that determines the position of the photos. If you need less white space, either make the containing text frame shorter, or add more rows of photos in the settings dialog.

  14. Carmel Crane

    March 1, 2023 11:20 pm Reply

    We are creating a yearbook in InDesign but need to add a new student in the middle of a class. I watched a video where you describe a script that can be added to make this process easier. How might I find and use this script?


    • Ariel

      March 8, 2023 11:02 pm Reply

      Hi Carmel,
      Well, Yearbook Creator is available for purchase on this page.
      If you use it to create your yearbook pages, adding or removing a latercomer is as easy as cutting and pasting. All the other pictures will shift to fill the gap or make extra space automatically.
      I show the process in the YouTube video you refer to.
      But it does require using Yearbook Creator to create the pages.

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