Student Publications: Organization & Production

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

Student publications can be a daunting prospect for teachers. However, when it is organized and structured it can lead to the creation of wonderful student publications that incorporate skills from writing to technology.

Producing Student Publications

Working with students on publications can be an amazing experience. It is a chance while they are still students to not only teach teamwork, but help them develop skillsets, such as writing and photography, and even technological skills such as production and digital copyediting. However, none of that will happen if the student production is not well organized from the start.

The Faculty Advisor's Role in Organizing Student Publications

Whether it is a student newspaper or yearbook, if it is going to be successful it needs to be well organized. If not, it can quickly devolve into utter chaos, which can cause issues in terms of the quality of product and perhaps even legal issues related to copyright. Therefore, you want to be sure to define roles for everyone involved.


In any student publication, there should be a faculty advisor to oversee and organize the process, regardless the type of student publication. The faculty advisor should be a teacher or staff member charged with overseeing the publication process, as well as supervising students. As part of that role, the faculty advisor works with students to delineate roles and duties based on the type and goals of the publication. Also, the faculty advisor is responsible for assuring that students follow all applicable laws and codes of ethics that may apply. For example, the faculty advisor may make sure that only pictures of consenting students are included in the publication, or that no copyrighted material appears in the student publication.

Student Roles

Depending on the type of publication, students will need to be organized into teams for specific jobs in the student publication. Each team should have defined roles that contribute to the content of the final student publication. Depending on the publication and the age of the students, the faculty advisor may designate the teams or work with students to develop the teams based the content of the publication.

Photographers, for example, might be one team within your student publication. From student newspapers to yearbooks, images are there to tell a story as much as the words on the page. The student photographers are there to take and edit photographs that fit within the scope and sequence of their student publication. For example, if the student publication is a yearbook or newspaper they may take pictures of different events that happen at the school, such as football games or concerts.


Another team may consist of student writers for the publication. These students would be responsible for writing and editing any copy that goes into the final publication. While some students in the group may work on original pieces, others may serve more as an editor to check articles for accuracy and grammar.

Graphic designers are another important team to any student publication. Student graphic designers can work on a variety of tasks, from general layout to creating non-photographic visual elements for the student publication. These students may also be responsible for taking original student artwork and converting it into a program suitable for use in the student publication. Depending on the number of student staff, it may be the graphic design team that takes all the other components and assembles them into the final student publication.

Technology and Production in Student Publications

In this day and age, student publications would not come to fruition without technology. That is because depending on the type of student publication, there will be specific software requirements for the final work to be published. If the publication is going to be printed by a professional publishing company such as a yearbook or student magazine, the student publication will need to be created within the company's software. For example, yearbook companies use online software that can do everything from stream thousands of student pictures onto a few pages to creating photo collages from scratch.

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