I want to be a graphic designer but I'm awful at writing copy, editing, coming up with slogans and catch phrases.

Do I really need to learn Writing, Spelling and Grammar and such to be a successful Graphic Designer?

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    In my experience, designers are notoriously bad at spelling! Unless copy writing is a specific extra service you are providing, I'd expect the client to either write that or have someone else do it. They know their product best, after all. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:20
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    Given the capitalization errors in your question and the fact that you are a successful designer tells me no, you don't have to be good at it :P Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:30
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    Interesting. Once, as an IT grad that has quite a thing for graphic design, I was applying to be a Web Designer. The test was to make a small ads, like the one usually shown in any website's sidebar. Well, I gotta make the design ...and the words too, which made me quite nervous, because I never thought "a skill to make an interesting sentence" is part of that job. Judging from how I was called again, seems like I passed the test. Didn't go though, another place accepted me first as a Programmer :P
    – Konayuki
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 2:11
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet! At least we can all use this as an excuse if the right catch phrase doesn't come up!
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 14:29
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    @go-junta No worries; I got your back. ;) Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 19:57

8 Answers 8


In part, yes. As an expert, heck no.

Writing is its own profession. You don't need to be an English major or writer to be a designer.

As a designer, I am often asked for ideas, i.e. slogans, tag lines, phrasing. But this is always done with professional writers so they have the final word on what will be used. While a client may pick my brain for creative ideas, I'm not asked to actually cement any idea myself. A writer always reviews everything before design begins.

That being posted, you do need to know how to spell, as well as have at least some basic idea of grammar and usage. You'll still be called upon to input headlines or small amounts of copy and spelling inaccuracies can be problematic.

95% of the text I use for designs is provided to me by clients or writers they have hired. While I may make suggestions or be asked to change a headline here or there (which requires typing) for the most part I don't input a great deal of text myself. I certainly do not advertise or sell myself as a creative writer capable of constructing original copy for clients. I refer client to actual writers for that stuff.

Writing is a lot like printing or web development to a designer. Yes, you should understand the basics, be able to handle rudimentary adjustments when needed, but you don't need to be an expert by any means.

Past companies I've worked for had dedicated marketing, dedicated editing/writing, and dedicated design departments. Many of the larger companies I freelance for today have the same structure. In larger corporations, they tend to understand that like design, writing is a specialized area requiring specialized skills. Writing is closely tied to design, but in my experience few designers are also asked to be writers.

It's only with smaller companies where a designer may also be asked to be a writer in an effort to save money and streamline their own outsourcing. Similar to how smaller companies want a "web designer" to also code everything and build their back-end database -- two jobs, but if they can hire one person and only pay one salary, they certainly will.

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    Small company job requirements: Web Designer, Marketing, Social Media, Graphic Design, Videographer and Photographer.
    – AndrewH
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:37
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    Don't forget Trade Show Coordinator
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:44
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    .. and IT support....
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:47
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    I spent my first day of my first job at a small company putting up shelves in the office... That job certainly had variety. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 18:06
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    Also Pre-Production, Print Purchasing, Phone Equipment Support (it's electronics, right? You work with computers all day; you should know how to fix the phones!), Coffee Maker, Lunch Orderer, and in certain offices Designated Cleaner of Canine Effluvia. (which is worse than you're imagining.) Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 18:32

Required? No. The larger the company, the more likely it is that they'll have specialized departments for certain jobs. Marketing is a skill, writing is a different skill, graphic design is another skill, web design is a specific subset of that skill, programming is an entirely separate skill.

If you can write, great. In a small shop, that will help you get hired. If you can't — and by that I mean "write creative business copy," not "basic spelling and grammar which showed you graduated high school" — it shouldn't hinder your general employment chances.


I think that depends on where you work, but largely I don't think these skills are a necessity.

My girlfriend for instance works at a place where graphic designers are part of the marketing department and they are frequently asked to contribute to that sort of stuff. (Though I imagine they do not have final say)

However I imagine there are other organizations where designers are a little more separated from marketing and the words themselves.

Working freelance I'd also think the client is responsible for any content they'd like to see. Otherwise I'd expect a freelancer to charge extra for that sort of stuff.

So to answer your question, I do not think it's completely necessary to have those skills and you will typically be provided with these things but it can only help you to know how to do those things as well. I think much the same applies to let's say web design where, knowing CSS and HTML isn't necessarily a job requirement, but knowing it is a huge help to the job.


Basically it depends on the work environment you're in.

I would say writing can be a big part of being a graphic designer. However there is a difference between content creation for written language and working with text. A graphic designer is not a technical writer but a graphic designer could be used as a marketer.

I think a designer should know the basics of the language they're working with. This is something that would be useful/required at any job. I think the most important part for a designer is quality control, not having typos. So knowledge of spelling and grammar is beneficial. This may not be true for designers who work in a structured environment or are given the written material.

So maybe your only job is to place the information in a pleasing layout. At one of my jobs, I was given 100% of the material and my only job was to place the text on whatever I was making. I then had someone go over the material to make sure everything looks good. Some job positions may ask you to be more involved with creating the marketing material. The latter will most likely happen if you work in a smaller company.

I currently work as a designer and required to come up with all marketing ideas (As I am the "marketing department"). I get help with written content creation but I am the one coming up with the ideas and what to say. It is my job to make sure that all written content that is used for promotional use has no typos and lack for better words "sounds good".

In the end, I wouldn't expect a graphic designer to be a great writer but like any job you will be expected to have basic writing skills.


Interesting question.

First of all there are some diferences in "Graphic Design" background depending on different schools... and countries.

A Graphic Designer carrer can be focused on ilustration, arts, the usage of some aplications, or in Visual Comunication. And it turns to be that Visual comunication has some common bases with written language. Visual comunication has syntax. Story telling has.

In the title you say "Creative" writting. As such no. But obviusly you should try to be creative all the time. This creativity probably can be spilled on the writting, or at least in the composition of the text.

Regarding proper spelling and grammar, I think every person that tries to be profesional should have thoose.

I don't have thoose, in english, becouse it is not my native language... sorry for that, but I do have a good spelling and grammar for short texts in my native one. But that is totally diferent issue regarding creativity. Creativity implies to read emotions on texts, hummor, shock, sadness.

But never send a material for printing (or publishing) without the client's aprooval regarding the text. You need to be very clear that any problem with the text is not a design issue.

Spending much time with the same text will produce to avoid reading errors. So work with texts as a mass; just another element, but be carefull on how you separate the text lines for example in a poem, song or such kind of texts.


Do I really need to learn Writing, Spelling and Grammar and such to be a successful [insert any profession here]?

No, of course not.

Does it help? Absolutely.

  • Downvoter...please advise if I can improve this answer in any way.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:29
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    I didn't downvote (don't have the rep to on this site), but I did flag. It's not really an answer...
    – Tim Malone
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 21:13

If the customer asks you to create a slogan for their logo then it's up for you to decide whether you want to use your "creative writing" or not. If you're going to create magazine designs, logos or any other products that include fair amounts of text, note that proper grammar and text composition are absolutely necessary, but you don't have to be a man of literature.

TL;DR: Creative writing for graphic designers isn't mandatory, but it can be a benefit to have against your competitors.

P.S. For webpage design I use lorem ipsum text generator if no text is provided.

  • That doesn't really answer the question; YOU never had to deal with it is not the same as "it is not necessary" (not that I'm saying it is).
    – Luciano
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 13:46

The thing about 'graphic design' is that it is not a profession, i.e. there are no professional standards and there is no barrier to entry. Anyone can call themselves a graphic designer regardless of whether they have any skills that could be useful for 'graphic design'.

The courses that exist in 'graphic design' are not what academic high flyers go for. In the UK you won't find 'graphic design' taught at Oxford or Cambridge. However, that off-brand college down the road will let anyone and everyone on to the course if some money/grant can be found, no qualifications needed.

Many so-called 'graphic designers' are 'graphic designers' because they didn't get a proper education and 'stacking shelves' is not what they want to do. Clearly there are some stellar graphic designers out there but, in general, most 'graphic designers' you meet in the wild see text as shapes on a page, best swapped out for 'lorem ipsum' in spidery grey text on a grey background, in a font size that can only be read on an expensive Apple computer.

These 'graphic designers' give 'design' a bad name, none will step up to use common sense with copy and they leave/make a lot of problems for those that have to work with their efforts.

The thing is that literacy is what schools set out to achieve, most real world 'graphic designers' do not have the literacy level that school leavers should have. You can pretend that 'none of this is true' but far too often it is.

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    Would it be safe to say you think Graphic Designers SHOULD know how to write, but unfortunately often don't?
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:10
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    In many countries Graphic design is a college degree. Aka, it is a profession. But I agree that it is one of the professions that has being prostitued the most by people using PhotoIdontNeedToThinkShop and PowerHereIsTheDesignJustCopyItPoint clients.
    – Rafael
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:13
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    This answer is full of misconceptions. Of course graphic design is a profession. All sorts of professions have low barriers to entry. In the US, there are extremely highly regarded art and design schools that absolutely teach graphic design (RISD, MCAD, Savanah, Cranbrook, etc). And yes, like most professions, there are highly trained experts, as well as poorly trained hacks. This is nothing unique to Graphic Design.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:19
  • What I think @Henry's Cat means is the colleges teaching Graphic Design are actually teaching how to become an Art Director or the "higher degree" of consultants. Most "graphic designers" are indeed on the technical part of design and these colleges don't teach software. They teach history of art and theories. That may be useful to know but the skills still need to be learn at a more basic level. Where I live, graphic designers are always seniors (10+yr) and there's another name for "technical designers". In english, it seems like everybody is a senior as long they know how to open Photoshop.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 23:47
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 1:54

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