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"Looks Great! Wait, I have to read it too?"


I clearly remember the first time I really noticed customers don’t really read proofs of projects I have worked on. I worked at a printing company in Birmingham and had designed a business card, sent the proof and approval form, and received word to move forward with production from the client. When the customer picked up the printed cards, he complained that his name was spelled wrong and should have been Stephen not Steven and asked how I could mistype it. I thought to myself, “Dude, it’s your name, not mine — you approved the proof.”

That was neither the first nor the last time a mistake will be missed in the proofing process.

Sometimes I make a mistake on a proof in something I type when designing something. Other times, the client submits text that is full of errors. As a company we have processes to catch errors internally before sending a job to a client to proof.

Some jobs go through multiple revisions. But ultimately a client approval is just that — Approval.

Here are a few things to note when you receive a proof:

  1. Spelling. Read it slowly and carefully. Names for example are not caught by spell check. And pay attention to words that are spelled correctly, but often switched up such as ‘too’ and ‘to’ or ‘their’ and ‘there.’
  2. Grammar. If you have a doubt about how a sentence is structured, do a web search on how to best compose it.
  3. “That looks funny.” If it looks odd, ask the designer. A proof in a PDF could be rendered with a glitch. For example, only 1 photo is low resolution or a font should be bold, but isn’t.
  4. Color. If the red looks pink when it should be cherry, again ask the designer. Different monitors and software display color differently. We can look at the color build and compare it to a color book together.
  5. Size. Did you expect a vertical ad, but the proof was horizontal? It might be because the dimensions sent were 3”x5” but should have been 5”x3” — Designers always work width x height.
  6. Check the date. I don’t have a statistic, but 20 years of experience have taught me, loads of errors are made in January. How many times this year did you type January 2, 2012, instead of January 2, 2013? Exactly.
  7. Edits. Send edits by email. That way there is a clear record of what changes need to be made and no confusion can be made based on a misinterpreted phone call instruction.

This is just a quick list of things to do when proofing a project. The main things to remember are to examine your proof carefully and, when in doubt, ask questions.

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