21 Unique High School Yearbook Themes and Ideas Teens Will Love

Find inspiration for unique yearbook themes that will make the grade.

Updated June 22, 2023
Friends Working Together On Year Book

Like a bustling newsroom piecing together a breaking story, high school yearbook committees have the Herculean task of condensing an entire year's worth of memories and accomplishments into a few pages. While you can get away with a few grainy photos, a last-minute theme won't cut it.

Whether you're an aspiring graphic designer, journalist, or just needed an extra credit to graduate, your creative voice matters. Don't be afraid to put your wildest and most ambitious high school yearbook themes in the running. And, if you've tapped out your creative tank for the day, we've got a ton of cool theme ideas to get your wheels turning.

20 Cool Ideas for Yearbook Themes

Get creative and play around with these yearbook theme ideas. The're just the start of where you can take your high school's yearbook to this year. It can be easy to make a yearbook that you and your friends would marvel over, but it's important to be inclusive of all the groups, activities, and clubs in your school. It's time to memorialize your high school experience in the eye-catchiest way possible.

A Matter of Time

A Matter of Time Yearbook

The idea of time is a versatile but always relevant theme for a high school yearbook. You may opt to place different images, photos, and drawings of how you keep time throughout the book. You may even decide to use different time-keeping 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" quizzes and articles are such popular clickbait. People love to explore pop culture through a thing that connects to them directly. Trends are always changing, and it'll be so funny to come back in 20 years and look back at what social media challenge you and your friends were up to.

Consider creating pages that resemble TikTok, Instagram, or other popular social media apps' layouts and including lists of the top 10 in movies, music, television, and current events throughout the yearbook.

Superhero Celebration

There's been a massive resurgence in superheroes in the past two decades, and the concept could be an awesome yearbook theme for you to consider. 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.

Quick Tip

You can also tie in the pop culture element by including a few quotes from superhero movies or graphic novels. Poll students to find out which famous superheroes mean the most to them and publish the results.

Emoji Expressions

Emoji Expressions Yearbook

If you want a tongue-in-cheek yearbook, emojis are a great option. After all, high schoolers have been communicating with emojis their whole lives, so you and your classmates are the most qualified to use them to reflect on 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.

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 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.

Salute various ways students persevered and rose above challenges by highlighting examples of never-give-up behavior. For instance, you can 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.

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. Center the yearbook on some of the incredible things students are doing now to leave a lasting legacy at the school and in the community.

You can highlight the 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 feature on the yearbook cover or one of the book's first pages.

Quick Tip

Another way to enhance this theme is to 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. Years from now, students will be able to look back and compare what they wanted to accomplish back in high school to what they've achieved so far, and see how it all measures up.

True Colors

True colors is a theme you can really play with thanks to the hidden meaning behind "true colors" being the essence of who you are. And you get a built in color palette with your school's colors! Juxtapose staged and candid photos, and invert your school colors for a really compelling take on the theme.

To drive home the theme. you may even want to include a few quotes or sayings that parallel how the true colors of each person and the class as a whole can shine together.

Choices and Crossroads

Crossroads Yearbook

Celebrate the unlimited paths high schoolers can take with a cool yearbook theme that accentuates the many crossroads teens face. 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. And at the end, you can 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 classic teen musical about high school, but it's also a funny 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.

If you really want your yearbook to stand out, you can consider re-creating the final scene from Grease with a photo of the senior class walking arm in arm, and also publish pictures that show band members, cheerleaders, academic champions, and athletes all hanging out together.

Heroes Among Us

Focusing on real-life heroes can be an uplifting yearbook theme because it brings attention to those who struggle and fight to make the world a better place. Interview student heroes, such as those who volunteer in the community, have overcome illness, or who have struggled to tackle obstacles in their paths to accomplish the goals they've wanted to hit.

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. You can even get the greater community invovled by highlighting local adults who are heroes and role models.

Keeping It Real

The strong stylings of competitive reality shows is ripe for spoofing, and this theme does just that. Give each of the students their chance at the yearbook's confessional by staging photos in a mock-up confessional booth.

You can easily weave references from shows like The Masked Singer, Dancing with the Stars, Top Chef, and The Voice into the yearbook by connecting to teen's penchant for the dramatic. Just be sure to accentuate reality programs that are particularly popular during the current school year to keep the yearbook timely.

Dancing Through Life

Dance Dance Dance Yearbook

Not everybody's got rhthym, but dancing through life is a metaphor all teens can relate to. This yearbook theme allows you to bring a focus to the different dances your school has throughout the year, so you'll want to curate a ton of photos from them.

Art and images of dance can be combined with messages of making the most out of life to create inspirational messages for teens to look on. 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 on the theme reference by including old pictures from elementary or middle school events. If you come from an older school, try to get photos of past school years over the decades.

Celebrate the time you had together by weaving important facts about the past 18 years throughout the yearbook. You may opt to play up nostalgia, too, with cute art that pays homage to decades of the past.

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's crowned should be included in all its anticipated glory, but you also want to give smaller moments 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. 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 themselves. Give the power to the people and let their memorable moments dictate the direction you take.

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. After you've got your submissions, encourage students to vote on their top choices to highlight in the yearbook. This theme is all about the personal, so the more involved students are, the better.

Kidding Around

High school can get serious, so it's a nice departure to have a silly yearbook theme instead. You caniInclude cartoons or doodle images throughout the annual to keep the lighthearted feel of this theme apparent from the first glance.

You may opt to narrow in on one particular kind of joke or art to display throughout the book, or mix things up a bit with a variety of cartoons or line drawings mocked up by creative students. Place jokes at special places throughout the yearbook, and feature fun photos that show students laughing and having a good time.

Express Yourself

Implement a self-expression theme throughout the yearbook to bring the focus back to the people who order them. This is essentially a celebration of every student's individuality. Note 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. Also include an index at the back to make it easy for them to find themselves.

Quick Tip

Another creative way to add to this theme is to 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?

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. Gamify it with video game terminology throughout the text.

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're 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. While change can seem scary, ues this yearbook to show teens just how exciting it can be, too.

Ready for Your Big Screen Close-Up

Make your yearbook larger than life by choosing a cinematic theme. 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.

It's About the Journey

High school is an incredible journey, and a theme inspired by this idea could lend itself to a unique yearbook theme. You can add elements of travel, trails, or roads, with different events as stops along the way. You could include famous or student-written quotes about their high school journey, or add cute pit stops throughout the pages with fun facts about what's happened during the school year.

Tips for Developing Your High School Yearbook Theme Ideas

Don't stick with the first idea that comes to mind! 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'll be a yearlong endeavor to craft and perfect this important keepsake book.

While developing your ideas, use these tips to speed through the process:

  • Always give proper credit for every idea. Not only should you thank whoever came up with an idea in person, but also consider listing their contribution in the yearbook itself.
  • Ask for input from students who aren't on the yearbook staff. The best yearbook theme ideas can come from anyone and anywhere. Creative feedback from students with fresh eyes can help propel a simple theme into a complex, fun masterpiece.
  • When choosing a theme, try to remain timeless. Most people keep their yearbooks for a lifetime. While pop culture ideas can work wonders, you might want to consider selecting a theme that won't have you cringing at your ten-year reunion.
  • Be mindful of the trends and sayings you include. Things we thought were funny 10 years ago often don't hold up today. So, be careful about the pictures, sayings, and trends you include in the yearbook.
  • The real fun begins after you've chosen the theme. Once you've gotten the prompt narrowed down, you and your staff can really get the creative juices flowing.

Have Fun With Your Yearbook Theme

While you do have a big responsibility to your entire student body to make a memorable yearbook, keep in mind that the reason that you wanted to be on the yearbook staff was to have fun. Enjoy coming up with creative yearbook themes to consider, then find ways to bring the chosen theme to life after a decision's been made. Keep things light throughout the whole process and remember to enjoy the journey.

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21 Unique High School Yearbook Themes and Ideas Teens Will Love