How to Write a Child's Ad in a Yearbook

Your child's yearbook ad should be a happy surprise, not an embarassment.

Writing an ad to go into your child's yearbook is one of the most critical pieces of communication you will ever write. Essentially, you're writing a lasting letter to your child and publishing it for the entire world to see. To make the situation even more pressure-packed, you'll be adding photos you think are adorable and hope the rest of the world will, too, especially your child. Take the process step-by-step and you will have an ad worthy of being preserved for posterity.

Brainstorm ideas by writing down your child's activities through the years. Maybe she has focused on dance and theater. Or, he has loved soccer from the age of four. Think back on each grade in school to what your child was involved in at that age. Look through photos to jog your memory.

Dig deeper by thinking of her admirable qualities. If she's a competitive swimmer, think about the determination that drove her to push herself to win each ribbon. If he's had one best friend through thick and thin, that's loyalty. If she's accumulated hundreds of volunteer hours, she's dedicated and caring.

Ask other family members and close friends for their input. They may see other qualities in your child that can add to your list.

Think about the main message you want to give your child. Look back over his positive traits and activities. Now write your first sentence. Make it personal so that it means something special to your child. Expand upon it with two or three more sentences to make a paragraph. If you have trouble finding the right words, look for an appropriate quote to get you started.

Decide if you have said enough and if your words are unique enough. If you could write only one paragraph, would this paragraph suffice? Decide if you want to elaborate in words or photos. The best ads draw people in with compelling photos or a balance of photos and words.

Sort through your child's toddler and childhood pictures to find several that show her personality and what makes her special. Look for photos that are unusual so her ad won't look like everyone else's ad.

Decide how many photos you will use based on the size of your ad. Find out the exact dimensions of the ad you are buying. Measure and mark the exact size ad on plain or graph paper. Crop your photos if you want to cut out excess background and space. Then, move the pictures around to see how many you will use.

Examine your ad with a critical eye. Remember the ad will be seen by all the students and their families. It will also be saved for a lifetime and pored over again and again at reunions. If you're not sure whether any of the words or photos you've chosen might be an embarrassment to your child, change them.

Show your ad to several people you trust and ask for honest opinions. Make any changes or additions you deem necessary.

Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.