Using the Yearbook Ladder: Instruction by Leadership Mentor Ms. Lucy McHugh

Updated: Feb 12

There are lots of ways to organize your yearbook ideas, and today we’ll be talking about one of the primary methods, namely the Ladder.



The Ladder

The headings for each column should reflect what works for you, and it’s important that the document remains flexible, so that change can occur as needed.

A Ladder is a spreadsheet used to track the work of the yearbook. This spreadsheet can be any software that is available to you. Google Sheets is a freeware that works very well, and can either be downloaded as a PDF or as an Excel file. If students have access to Google Drive, the Ladder can be shared with them. The setup for this spreadsheet Ladder is anything that you might want it to be. The headings for each column should reflect what works for you, and it’s important that the document remains flexible, so that change can occur as needed. The column headings that I personally used when I taught a yearbook class were, from left to right, Spread Topic, Page Number Even, Page Number Odd, Spread Topic, Deadlines, Student Assignment, and Editor’s Comments. Once the yearbook concept, theme, and style has been agreed upon, the student leadership team and the advisor should codify the yearbook in this Ladder format. And in the personal example I provided, three deadlines guided the work. These deadlines were arbitrarily set by the advisor so that review, editing, and revision could be applied in a timely way. As spread topics need to change and potential directions for the overall yearbook shift, the Ladder organization can mirror those amendments.



Again, the Ladder is meant to be a fluid document; student leadership and administrative suggestions, unexpected events, and school storytelling features drive the changes made during the course of developing the yearbook. The yearbook should reflect the reality of the school year, and the Ladder helps to focus efforts on successfully executing the best possible presentation of the academic year.


Have any questions about the Ladder format? Follow us on Instagram (@unitedyearbook) and DM us any questions you may have! We’re happy to help.


Lucy McHugh, Yearbook Leadership Mentor


Lucy comes to United Yearbook Printing via a 38-year career in public and private school education. She was a former yearbook adviser at Xavier College Preparatory High School. She earned a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska in 2000. And in 2014 earned a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Loyola Marymount University. Lucy taught K-12 Art and was awarded the 2001 Nebraska Art Teacher of the Year, and in 2010 she was awarded Nebraska Elementary Art Teacher of the Year. Most recently Lucy was awarded the 2017 CA High School Art Teacher of the Year.