I designed a kids' activity book for my client. She handwrote all the text correctly and I typed a sentence out incorrectly. She approved the proof before print but that was the 6th draft so I guess both of us were too tired by that stage to spot this error.

If it was her provided text, I wouldn't see it as entirely my fault. But I typed it myself from her correct notes so it is. Should I give a discount? A full refund? She's printing labels to put over the incorrect text. Should I at least pay for that?

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    I agree with the answers, it is the client's responsibility once they approve the proof. However to help things run smoothly, I will point out if and why I've manually typed the text, rather than copy/pasted it, and therefore they should review it more closely. This will help avoid errors in the end.
    – ispaany
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 20:58

3 Answers 3


It's her responsibility.

That's why you provide proofs that she can freely take as long as she wants to review. A good trick is to make them write by email that they approve the proof. You ask it this way before sending the final print-ready file: "So, is this approved or do you need any more revisions?" She'll respond a Yes, or No. You got your approval and that's enough for you.

If she's a long time client or there's potential for more projects with her, you can offer her a rebate on the next job.

Also, make sure to add a line of text on your proof: Please review this proof carefully, the designer is not responsible for any mistake or omission, etc.

But one thing I strongly suggest: Do not ever type words.

Copy and paste them. It's so easy to make a typo and not see it, and amazingly these mistakes are often made in the titles because people just don't read them at some point! If the text is handwritten, you can type it and have her review it in plain text first. In any way, whenever you add texts yourself, specify to the client she/he must review it, that it was NOT proofread... or pay someone for this and charge the client. You're a designer, not an editor.

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    "Do not ever type words." < this. I work in a company where we have Europeans that sometimes write sentences out in their language for me to create a banner for a website. Straight away I tell them 'no' and to email me the text. I don't want to get moaned at because I haven't entered a character correctly of a language I don't understand.
    – SaturnsEye
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 7:37
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    I'm a young designer so she's my only client and we've been together for a while, doing it this way. But I find it's really hard and she's not able to pay me enough to make it worth this hassle. And now we have errors like this. So I'm going to suggest that it's in her best interests to type stuff in order to avoid mistakes. Thanks for your responses btw guys! Didn't expect anyone to be awake at this time lol.
    – Pepefan
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 7:46
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    Designers never sleep, you should know this! You know, for your client, keep a good relationship with her by offering her a small rebate on the next job; this way she will feel you're fair with her and really, that's all you should do (and that is if you want to.) As when any mistake happens, she might make you feel terrible for this but she certainly knows too that she could have avoided this. That's a valuable lesson she just learn, see it this way! Often clients don't review their own proofs enough and you cannot care more than they do at some point.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:25
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    Good answer, just one thing to add: in future, to avoid ambiguity, add something explicitly stating this to all contracts - something like "there will be up to X revisions, revisions beyond the Xth will be charged except where it is correcting a mistake, after all revisions there will be a checking period of X days for spotting mistakes, any mistakes not flagged during this checking period are the client's responsibility". And always have a contract, even (especially) for small projects or with family/friends. Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 10:52

If the client was provided a proof, he/she signed off on that proof, and the error was missed by the client, it is the client's responsibility.

However, you should have written approval before anything went to production. If you have that. You need not do anything or feel any obligation to address the matter financially.

This is the cold, hard truth. It's the client's responsibility to make certain everything is correct with respect to content. If you had received the copy from a copy editor, the error existed, and the client approved the proof would you feel responsible at all? Of course not. It just so happens that in this instance you were the typist.

The reality is, as a designer, you are going to have to "type stuff" from time to time. It just can not be avoided 100% of the time. But that is what client proofs are for.

Now.... all that being written ... we are all human and errors happen. I would never pay for any form of production, be it a rerun or labels. And similarly I'd never offer a full refund. However, if I wanted to keep the client and try and make up for the error in some way, depending on my return for the job, I may offer a small discount on my services but only to try and keep the client happy, not because I felt obligated to. If I already wasn't making any money on the job, I'd not offer anything. If she wasn't happy with that, then you may just have to write off the error (and the client) as a learning experience.

  • Yes i agree. And by the way the only reason this is not a duplicate is because of the transcription of the result. And i'm voting everybody up today it seems
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:00
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    Hey Joojaa, sorry for making a thread like many on here. I looked at others but they were all for errors already existing in client-supplied copy. Scott, I was about to offer a discount but I'm already charging way way less than I should be because the client is a small business and tries to haggle whenever I increase my rate. And they usually are pretty happy with me. They didn't actually tell me about this issue - I found out by myself. I feel like if they were really upset, they'd have approached me. If that happens over the coming days, then I might still offer a discount.
    – Pepefan
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 12:06

This depends on your contract with said client. It also somewhat depends on the situation and size of error. But in general: NO, if you provided a proof and gave a review and client says send to print then the client has signed the document off. They have approved, and that person takes responsibility.

There is a extremely high chance of error in any moderately sized document. Even professional copy editors can not guarantee error free results. Let alone spot errors incurred when the document was transcribed, it incurs doubling of chances for error.

The reviewer is responsible

The purpose of giving out a document for review is for the reviewer to check for errors. Therefore the reviewer is responsible  for their failure to review. If theres no binding consequences for reviewing then there is a chance that the reviewer lest a n error slide only to ask for a rebate later. Even in the case where its clear that its not in clients interests to cheat its still the responsibility of the reviewer.

Your contract should state this as a fact. It is sad but most people do not take this kind of responsibility seriously. Once its sent for manufacturing its done with, no editing. Bills have to be paid for etc. Be sure to remind your clients of this.

Your liability

You are responsible to a part but you should be shielded because it would make it impossible for you to operate under the assumption of perfect. However there are situations that might make you liable.

You are at fault when:

  • Client notified you of the problem you failed to address the problem.
  • For some reason versions got mixed up so that the error popped back to existence.

In other cases you should exercise your judgement.

In future

Hire a external editor to handle the checking. Personally i would never ever transcribe the text myself, i would send it out to somebody else or have the client transcribe it themselves.

Update your base contract template now if you do not have a stipulation in your contract already.

Also take the advice of @go-me: Never type stuff. People get so upset about typos and they are nearly impossible to wean out. Only very few persons can actually spot all errors, beforehand. And it is very expensive to have error free stuff.

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    In other news if ordered a bridge built and I am the one to approve for the safety of the bridge im on the line if the bridge goes down, unless i can prove misconduct/negligence by contractors or that the situation was unforeseeable. AND nobody questions this for a second. Thing is the responsibility should be reflected in your reward.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:06
  • I consider it as an approval now whenever they send their own print-ready files to the printer. It's kind of implied at this point and I even tell them to verify the print-ready file! Even if I make a mistake, unless it's a technical one, it's their responsibility. End of story.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:31
  • @go-me yes that is implied, but depends on who sends the file to print. it might be the designer after all.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 9:17
  • In this case, yes you're right. Better to have the written approval.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 9:26
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    @Baconfan I'm not annoyed! I work with the same clients for years and don't have contracts for most of them; and almost all of the new clients are referrals. Contracts also have little value if your clients are in some other countries. I'd rather make things clear, explain how I work to the client, and give them some kind of "team work" and coaching service... and my system to get paid is also working well. My proofs contain some terms too. I don't know if the communication helps or quality or my workflow, but things go smooth for me even without any contracts. Oh, I charge by the hour too!
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 20:11

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