Yearbook Q & A

Where did the idea of Google Yearbook come from?

I work in a school district that teaches students from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Three years ago, Mike Frazier, the head of Bakersfield City School District Duplicating Department, asked schools create our own yearbooks. Is his reason? Save students money.

Normally, yearbooks cost more than $25. This price is minimal compared to high school where yearbooks can cost more than $75. The 2016 Compton Jr. High School yearbook with 100 full color pages cost $8.16 to print.

Mike Frazier asked us create yearbooks with our computers and send them to Duplication. He gave us a few resources, but the resources were for a computer with a person. I decided to use Google Apps so that students could work together.

If we are surrounded by photos, why do we still need yearbooks? 

Technology changes. In college I had a zip disk with all my work. I cannot open it now. My father takes pictures every party we have. He gives me copies of the pictures on CD. In the future, I will not be to open them.

The good thing my father has written an autobiography. We have a hardcover book with all his pictures and stories. I even have his signature with a personal message. Although my father will not be with us forever, our family will have the book for generations.

It's same with my mother who is no longer with us. I have her yearbook. I have her memories and successes. She was from a farm-worker family and was the first in her family to go to college. It's same with my yearbook and my students’ yearbook. Physical books can be passed down to future generations.

First, where is printed yearbook?

My school district has a printing company called Xerox Color 1000 Press. We are a large district with more than 30,000 students. As such, we may have more resources than a small district.

The cover of our yearbook is soft. The product is high quality. If we need to print additional yearbooks, it takes 1 to 2 weeks to print depending on the demand. We do not print more than necessary.

On, I have a list of printing companies in the United States. If you find more companies, please share them with me. If you are from a different country, I would love your help in creating a list of companies from your country.

What Google application do you use?

I use Google Slides. Yes, you can use Google Docs. In fact, we have used Docs the first year. But I do not recommend. Here is an example of a Google Docs yearbook.

Yes, I can insert images Google Docs. Yes, I can adjust the image with the text. I can insert page numbers, and I can change the color of the page.

The problem is that the yearbook in Google Docs is that it looks boring. I can do all this and even more in Google Slides.

In Google Slides, I can crop images (also known as masking images) in different shapes. In Slides, I have the options to use solid color, gradient or image for the background. I can move the image with ease.

I can even use templates from SlidesCarnival - a company from Spain that provides free Google Slides templates. Of course, I have to modify the template size and play with the design, but the ideas that come SlidesCarnival design are amazing.

I also use a folder in Google Drive that I share with students using Google Classroom. I prefer to use a shared folder because I'm not confident regarding the privacy of Google Photos. In Google Drive, I can prevent editors from changing access permissions and adding new people. Read more about inserting, cropping and sharing images here.

Where do I start creating a yearbook? What are the basics?

You have to know how change the size of the page, insert images and crop images into different shapes.

I click File is the left side and search Page setup. When I see the triangle, I know there are more options. I choose Custom and change the dimensions to 8.5 x 11 inches.

I can delete the text so that I have a blank page.

Then I look for Insert and I select Image. I select Google Drive and the folder of images. The only difference for students is that after selecting Google Drive, they select Shared with me to see the shared folder. I choose the photo and I press Select.

If I do not want the whole image or want change the image into different shapes, I can crop it. Remember that when there is a triangle, there are more options. Cropping photos as rectangles is a bit boring. There are more options to cut - shapes, arrows, calls and even equations. I like the oval and round rectangle.

It is also important to know how to zoom in order to write the names and descriptions. I look for View and adjust to 100% or 200%.

Do you have any resources to start?

I have a web site called where you can find directions, videos and templates. I will create even more with the help of my students and yearbook classes throughout the world.

I also use modified templates from SlidesCarnival. My favorite yearbook template is Quintus because it look like a scrapbook. The template is free for you to copy and use.  Here is a video for advanced users who want to learn how to edit master.

The template includes blank layouts and pages with specific-sized images. I use the specified sizes for club pictures. Small schools may choose to use the 1 x .75 inch image for individual student pictures.

Can we specify the size of an image on Google Slide? 

My school has over 600 students and a photographer program for individual portraits. But is easy for a class take their pictures with their computers using a template like the one I provided on

When I press the picture, a new menu appears. I choose Replace the image and Take a snapshot. I accept the permissions and take photos until I am happy with one of them.

If students want to create templates before taking the pictures, I made a folder full of sizes on If you need a particular size, just contact me. My dream is that one day Google will provide a resize image option, but until then, image templates are an answer.

If my students are working on separate slides (or sections of the yearbook), how can we combine?

Too many students working in the same section of the yearbook can be a big problem. Groups of 3-4 students working on once section is a much better option. Of course, this means that the work must be combined at some point.

We can combine the pages at end of the project. I press File and look for Import slides. If the file is not in the window, I write the title of the file. I choose all of the slides, keep original theme and import. I continue doing the same until all files are together.

Now for the most important question, how can we download the yearbook to print?

Once the yearbook is made, it must be sent to be printed. First, I confirm that all comments have been resolved. Should any comment be left, that particular image will not download.

After I confirm that all pages are done to my liking, I select File and Download as PDF (.pdf). I open the file to once again verify that the document is to my liking.

I then upload the PDF to Google Drive and share it with the Duplicating department or printing company.


I hope you enjoyed and learned something new with this Google Yearbook Q & A. For more information on this #mex16 Google Innovator project, please go to

If you speak Spanish, you may want to watch the EdTechTeam LatAm Anuario Google presentation from Monday, March 27, Just fast forward the first 7 minutes until I finally figured out a few key technical skills. It was my first YouTube Live presentation after all.


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