I've looked thru the archives and haven't seen this specific issue, so here goes:

I've worked as in-house and freelance graphic designer, and my #1 head-to-the-desk cause is when the client gives me text, I make it pretty, then they constantly change little things in the text. Add a comma here. Change this to that. Bill thinks this sentence needs to end in an exclamation point. They expect me to make these edits on my InDesign file and I worry because I might make a typo or accidentally touch something else.

Additionally, little words added impact the flow of the paragraphs and can dramatically change the layout. Suddenly I have to re-design the page because the word count has now expanded beyond what good design allows. This addition/revision of text is frequently due to many eyes seeing the drafts DESPITE that they have had their own rounds of review of the copy.

My goal is to get them to hand me UNTOUCHABLE text BEFORE the design gets underway. If something must be changed, I've asked that they change it themselves in the original Word doc, but I've had quite a lot of resistance with that - my feeling is they know this is a crap way of working but they want to be able to blame me, not themselves, for any errors. BTW they completely ignore word count.

So how to handle this? Any way to stop the madness?


3 Answers 3


Consider composing a short document "Guidelines for submitting documents." In this, specify the desirable and reasonable practices you want/need to perform your part of the project.

Offer limited (two) "Authors' Alterations" (AAs), because stuff happens, if it has been dated and submitted in reasonable form. Who is responsible for proofreading, copy preparations, etc.? If it's you, you should have proper resources to use which includes time to do it properly.

Things take time and it's reasonable to have a cut-off after which you cannot accept changes without some compromise. (You should have a say in the terms of the compromise.)

You might have to charge some cases more for the insult If you can't refuse them outright.

  • Thanks for your input. Your advice is completely reasonable, and I've realized that I'm dealing with clients who aren't interested in efficient workflow. They are being charged hourly - would one charge extra for this in that case? So far we haven't missed any major deadlines, it's more like "my problem" than theirs.
    – TCDesigner
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 22:20

One posible answer is: Charge them. Stipulate that on a contract.

The madness won't stop untill the pocket says stop!

You can stipulate that any change in the source document length will be charged with $XYZ. The first 10 typo corrections are free of charge but $1 each aditional one.

Aditionally take a look at InCopy http://www.adobe.com/es/products/incopy.html It is a program to "syncronize" edits on one text file to the InDesign layout.

  • 1
    The other method you can charge them is with time. Most projects have some deadline that needs to be met: tell the client that even the most minor of text edits will require 24 hours. Make them wait. When they complain that the project is behind schedule, remind them that if they want to meet the deadline, they have to ensure their content is correct before supplying it to you.
    – Dre
    Commented Jun 17, 2016 at 12:51

Some designers and production people I know will allow an agreed-upon reasonable number of changes; after that, they charge for the additional time it takes to make any changes AND a base charge for opening the project file. If the client knows there's going to be a $50 or 100 charge for each comma s/he decides to move, then the comma may stay put.

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