Student Handbooks as Flipbooks: User-Friendly, Cost-Effective, and Safe

A handbook is an essential tool, especially in the field of education. Schools, colleges, universities, even local community educational programs use handbooks to summarize their regulations, policies, and general guidelines. Basically, a standard handbook is an overall “how things are done here” manual, provided to any newcomer, always at hand when a reference is needed. Well, at hand is where it’s supposed to be. But no one will carry the printed thing around these days—besides, printing in such quantities regularly costs. 

Which begs the question this article will try to answer: how to make a handbook as accessible as possible for its reader while also easy to manage and produce? 

Student handbook example

University of Oxford Student Handbook

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What Kinds of Handbooks Are There?

You can find all kinds of handbooks in education. 

Employee handbooks would generally try to answer all the questions a newly hired staff member might have about their workplace. Employment policies, performance management, compensations, growth opportunities—this is the kind of information you can find in an employee handbook.   

Family handbooks are usually created for parents, caregivers, and guardians of younger students, to try and answer their questions on the school’s approach to childcare as well as give them a full understanding of the school’s policies and values. These handbooks can go into such details as meals for the kids, rest time, field trips, pick-up time, and so on. 

Whereas student handbooks (probably the most popular use case in education) are predominantly made for students that have already entered college or university. Student handbooks usually cover a really wide spectrum of things—from student code of honor, discipline, attendance, and such, to fire safety and substance restrictions on campus. Students are often required to read the whole thing, however long it is. And even though they won’t have to pass an exam on it, ignorantia juris non excusat as we all know, so they’d at least better have the handbook somewhere close by to search through if necessary.

Student handbook example

BCPS Student Handbook

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So what handbook format will be the most convenient for a student to actually use and for a college to create and distribute?

The two that spring to mind first are printed handbooks and their digital counterparts. Let’s look at their advantages and disadvantages:

  • Printed handbooks. Of course, traditionally handbooks were printed and then handed out to whomever they were intended for. And sure, it may be pleasant to hold a glossy printed copy in your hands. But printing and shipping, no less traditionally, cost a fortune, not to mention that most of these handbooks will go to waste as soon as they fulfill their purpose or even sooner. Furthermore, a printed handbook is a pain to search through when a quick consultation is needed. In this digital era, people are used to reading on the go and having instant access to any kind of information they may require.
  • Digital handbooks. A digital handbook is quicker to access and safer too—both for the environment and for your health—as it doesn’t include touching of any other surfaces aside from your own device. But not all digital formats are the same. Some of them can be only a little less cumbersome than a printed book. For instance, a PDF is as hard to navigate as a paper copy, besides you have to download it first which is a certain downside for those with mobile data and storage limits on their devices. More than likely, they’ll have to download it more than once, too, in case of an update or a fix in the document. And for the college management department, it means emailing the same large PDFs over and over again, even for the smallest of twitches, if they want all the students to be up-to-date and equipped with the latest version of the handbook.

Another digital solution is to simply have your staff, parent, or student handbook available right on your website, as a web-page with dozens of collapsible sections and link directories. But you can already guess how well this can work. Not every website is equally responsive and SEO mobile-ready; your webpage handbook can seem perfectly intuitive and user-friendly on a big screen but on a small one it will turn into a nightmare of endless scrolling and confusingly interconnected links where any wrong finger movement will send your poor reader into a bewildering journey.

So, what’s the alternative? How can you avoid the flaws of the two formats (cost, waste, difficulty to navigate and keep up-to-date, etc.) while also retaining their plus sides—such as a glossy look of a printed handbook and mobile-readiness and safety of a digital one? What’s that ideal format that will treat your reader well and help them get the most of your handbook?

At this, we present to you online flipbooks.


Handbooks as Online Flipbooks

An online flipbook is a digital publication made via FlippingBook Online from PDF. Such a publication looks exactly like a printed one, down to the smooth page-turn effect, except it’s online. And not only is it lifelike, but a flipbook is also dynamic so your handbook will always look good and work fast on any device.

To see how it works, check our video to learn how you can engage students in active learning by transforming your PDFs into interactive handbooks, magazines, and reports with FlippingBook.

What's more, unlike the PDF it’s created from, a flipbook doesn’t require downloading and can be shared as a link or embedded right into your website—whatever you prefer. The link to it won’t change even if you update the document, however many times, which means you don’t have to re-send the file because of every small update. Just let students, parents, or staff know that the latest version is available for them to read, and send them the link.

The volume of your handbook or the number of its chapters and subchapters won’t matter either. With text search, thumbnails, and an interactive table of contents, your readers will find the answer they are looking for in seconds.

And you can make your handbook even handier with extra features! 

  • Add links to relevant resources parents might want to read
  • Insert video instructions for better comprehension and engagement of your students
  • Make the handbook more colorful and visually appealing with inline and pop-up images
  • And don’t forget about design and branding—after all, appearance matters! The polished look of your handbook will convey professionalism to your audience even before they turn the first page


Student handbook example

Northwestern Student Handbook

In conclusion, all things considered, it’s safe to say that the flipbook format sounds like the perfect match for the very idea of a handbook itself. 

For, turned into an online flipbook with FlippingBook Online, your handbook can be what it’s originally meant to be—not an obligatory read that will be flipped through and thrown away, but a useful go-to manual your student can turn to for answers, anywhere, anytime.

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People appreciate it.
Leah Pilz, Havergal College


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