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I am a fledgling designer but I have a bit of a problem - when I give people the "final" copy, there are always mistakes that I couldn't find (blinded from over saturation in the project usually) but the person who asked for the project notices them right away of course.

How can I best avoid this? The mistakes are usually little stupid things that just make me look careless.

Thanks for anyone's help with this!!

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    Have someone else look at it before you send it to the client? – Zach Saucier Oct 13 '15 at 12:54
  • Hi Alyson, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. If you want to know more about the site, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent Oct 13 '15 at 13:09
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First, I would recommend never using the word "final" until the client has actually given final approval, and even then I would only use it tentatively. Every stage prior to that I always treat as nothing more than the next proof. Every new proof is serialized with the day's date, plus A-Z for multiple proofs supplied on the same day. This doesn't really answer your question, but it will help condition you to the part that will; namely the proofing process.

Establish a separate proofing process from the design process. Often, when you're too close to a project to easily spot the errors, it helps to separate the two stages. Once you've completed the task and feel it's ready to send out. Step away for a few minutes (if you need to). When you come back, deliberately read each syllable of the instructions as though you are proofing THEM instead of the piece you just worked on. Don't skim when reading the instructions! Then, when you're ready to proof the piece, try to approach it from the mindset of your client. Get into their head. Next, starting with each step in the instructions, identify that step in the proof and verify that the step was completed as asked, checking each step off as you go. Once that is done, run a complete spell check.

It's also a really effective tactic, if you're on a design team, to always proof each other's work using the steps above, rather than proofing your own work.

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    Oddly enough, I find it easier to spot my own errors after exporting to PDF and skimming at a low zoom. – Yorik Oct 13 '15 at 19:34
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    I know what you mean. I've also noticed that my ability to spot errors is boosted 1400% whenever the print job is spooling. – 13ruce Oct 14 '15 at 11:48
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Define what are you responsable of. Make a list. I am not talking about "taste or style".

Normally you are NOT responsable of:

1) Any kind of orthography or redaction issues. Make that very clear.

The client must provide you with a written authorized file with the text. You can charge an aditional fee if he modifies this text after.

2) Resolution of images provided by the client.

We are talking about images of an event, some machine, etc, that can not be taken again. Tell them to look for the best quality ones they can find. And if the resolution or the quality is too small inform them so they know what to expect.

3) Data on tables or charts and diagrams. They also need to provide this in a standard program or format. For example, a table must be provided as an excell file, not a power point where all cells are little images.

If you need to replicate some of this elements they need to review them and authorize them.


For what you are really responsable. Separate a project into chunks.

Images. Confirm the resolution, quality, and also copyrights.

Ilustrations, Confirm the content reflects the idea, have feedback on this separated elements, becouse you probably are not an expert on what a situation of the project is. They are, so a lot of feedback on content. It does not matter if you do them or not.

The same with Photography. Hire a profesional photographer if needed.

Layout

Texts. If they provide you with the texts, now you are responsable of using them all.

You should not crop a text becou

Spaces, consistency

Use master pages, use styles. Do not use "artistic texts" (A one time modified text) but styles whenever posible.

Once one "designer" that came to me looking if I could hire her, showed me a dummy with totally inconsistent margins on a 8 page brochure... Some big some thin... Not good at all.

Color

You need to know the color, and the print process.

Define your colors as spot ones or cmyk ones correctly. This is out of the scope of this answer.

Details Like page numbering, and some little icon here and there, again, try to use an automated system when posible, so you do not need to look for that everytime, but always take a look at that.

Have someone to look for it

Before a major revision.

Normally there is no "final" file, untill the file is actually authorized as such, and this same file is used in the print process.

Take a look on this topic about naming conventions for revision control:

What is your file naming convention you use for version control?

Have a written system for revisions

If the client provided you with some feedback write it down, or ask him to send it by mail, and tag thoose mails.

All final revisions should be aprooved as such

There is no "oh, yes, make thoose changes and send them as you please".

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"proofing" is the act of weeding out problems/issues by showing other people your work (or test-printing in a print context)

Often I will submit pre-production proofs to the customer, they will usually find something, you are right that you get a sort of exposure blindness!

So never submit a final version direct, or if you must, then get some friends to look at it first.

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Details that you miss and that are design related are usually caused by a bad method while you design. As you revise the files, you forget to fix these things and they just stack.

The only thing you can do to fix this is to always work on your design as if the next proof will be the final one. Do it right the first time and every time.

Lot of designers see proofs as a draft but it's a very bad habit because then you need to review again every step of the work you did. For example, if the file is meant to be printed, then make sure your pictures are calibrated from the start, in the right color mode, that there's no spot colors left, your blacks are the right recipe, your logo is top vector quality, images in high resolution, etc. The only exceptions should be things such as stock image that are shown as comp (low res) before you buy them.

In other words, do you proofs as perfect and close to the final file as possible the first time and at every step. It maybe look like it takes longer but charge accordingly; in the end you'll save time by not having to review every details and also by not being anxious! Being anxious is very bad for creativity and productivity as a designer ;)

Then, review your file in detail and at least 3 times even if you're sick of it! Take a small break or do another project between each review; don't rush sending the proof even if the client is pushy. Another trick is: You can even look at your proof by rotating it and looking at it upside down; this way you might see details your brain ignores in the normal reading position. It's a trick that even proofreaders use in firms. And if it helps you, print a proof and cut it to make it look like a final;this way you'll see if the bleeds, trims, margins, folds are right. It's not always easy to review some projects on the screen, it takes experience and there's other details that are easier to notice on a print than on screen.

It's not always possible to have someone else to review your own files and in the end, you're the expert! You'll need to find your own method and apply it with discipline.


On the side of the client, that's their responsibility to verify their proof but some clients don't know how this step is important and that it's possible you make mistakes too; in the end, if they approve something with a mistake that is easy to see, they will pay for the revisions. But it's your responsibility to take care of the prepress and the technical parts of the design; that's what you're paid for. If that happens, you do the revisions for free, even if the job was an emergency and you were stressed. Find ways to review your work and send the proof when you are 100% certain there's zero doubt something is wrong. Create your own checklist if you need to, take notes.

It sucks when the client notices YOUR mistakes but thank them for this; better to see them on a proof or a "final" than on the first sheet of 5,000 brochures already printed! At some point you will notice where you make mistakes and add this to your "checklist for review" before you send a proof. Don't take the habit of counting on your client to find the mistakes; one day you'll get one of those clients who just approve anything without looking and then get in trouble because stuff needs to be re-printed.

Never type texts, copy/paste it from the client's file and make it understood that you are in no way responsible for typos even if you're the one who did it.

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