How to Keep Common Editing Goofs from Ruining Your Great Design

Oh no!

How did you miss it? The client’s name is misspelled on the design you turned in. How embarrassing.

You spend a lot of time your designs. As a result, your designs look great. And your clients love them.

There’s something they won’t love, though. That’s an editing goof. Yet, probably because they’re not focused on words, many designers overlook the importance of editing the copy that goes with their design.

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Editing goofs can be embarrassing. If you’ve ever seen a billboard or sign with a misspelling or typo on it, you know what I mean.

Even worse, an editing goof can cause you to lose a client. You see, most clients don’t like to look bad. And that’s exactly what an editing goof does–it makes your client look sloppy.

Luckily, editing goofs can often be avoided. In this post, I identify five common goofs that could ruin your design. I also provide four easy ways to keep from making those common mistakes.

If you liked this post you may also like this post about other types of common mistakes that designers make, 7 Common Mistakes Made by New Freelancers.

Goof #1. Typos

Everyone makes typos, right?

It is true that typos seem to be everywhere. They are on billboards on signs, in newspapers, and in magazines.

In fact, some typos can be quite humorous. There are even posts dedicated to collecting funny typos. Here’s an example of a funny typo list from Diana Adams on Bit Rebels, Funny Grammar Mistakes On Signs In America [20 Pics].

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Typos are also online and designers are not immune from making typos if their design includes copy.

A typo can even have dire financial consequences for a client. For example, if an ebook is meant to sell for $40.00 and the decimal is left out, suddenly the ebook is on sale for $4000.

It better be a mighty good ebook to be worth four thousand dollars!

Goof #2. Spelling Errors

Spelling errors are one of the most common types of typo.

Misspellings may be common, but they can also be one of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make. While all spelling errors are bad, some spelling errors can be especially damaging. Here are some spelling mistakes you definitely don’t want to make:

  • Company name
  • Client’s personal name
  • Product name
  • Price of the product or service

If you’re not sure about the correct spelling of any word in your design, double-check. It’s better to ask and get it right than to assume you know and have to redo your work later to fix the error.

Goof #3. Misunderstanding Facts

Clients often want to illustrate statistics to get their point across. This is especially true if you create infographics.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to glance at the statistics and misunderstand them. If you jump into your design too quickly, your presentation could actually be misleading or even incorrect.

Your client hired you to illustrate the information to make it more accessible to their audience. You’re not making that information accessible if you mess up the facts.

Be especially careful about illustrations that incorporate statistics and other facts. If something seems off about a statistic, ask to see the original source.

Goof #4. Word Usage

There are many words that are commonly used incorrectly. Sometimes this is because the words sound alike or look alike. Other times it is because most people don’t really know the definition of the word.

The worst thing about misused words is that many spelling and grammar checking tools won’t catch them. That’s because they really are words.

Here’s a list of ten commonly misused words:

  1. Accept vs Except
  2. Affect vs Effect
  3. Complement vs. Compliment
  4. Insure vs. Ensure
  5. Irregardless (this is not actually a word)
  6. Principal vs. Principle
  7. Then vs Than
  8. There vs Their vs They’re
  9. Too vs to
  10. Your vs You’re

You’ve probably already seen some of these mistakes yourself. You may have even made one or more of these mistakes in your designs.

Goof #5. Cultural Differences

If you’re designing for an international audience, take into consideration cultural differences. Words that are acceptable in one culture might be considered offensive in another.

Cultural differences also include design elements like color and images. Colors have different meanings in different cultures. Images also vary in acceptability by culture. What works for one culture will not necessarily work for another.

Don’t assume that because a design and its copy works well in your culture that they work well for any culture. Cultural differences are just one reason out of many why it’s so important to ask your client who their target audience is.

Sabin Idler has a very good series on cultural differences in web design on the Usabilla blog. The first installment in the series is How To Design For A Cross-Cultural User Experience (part 1/2).

4 Easy Ways to Eliminate Goofs

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Image Source: Make Mistakes by rchris7702 CC by 2.0

You may feel that goofs such as typos and spelling errors (and the rest) are inevitable. Or you may think that you’re already doing everything you can to avoid making mistakes.

However, there are a few extra measures you can take to avoid making embarrassing mistakes (and upsetting your clients). Here are four of them:

  1. Review your work after some time has passed. Most people miss their own mistakes while they are working even if they are looking right at them. To make sure you catch your mistakes, wait at least an hour or two before you check your work.
  2. Use your software tools. Most software tools include a basic spell check tool. While it’s true that a spell check tool won’t catch every mistake and can’t be totally relied on, it will catch some mistakes. There’s really no excuse for not using it.
  3. Have a third party review the design. It’s a good idea to have someone who wasn’t involved in the creation of the design check it for mistakes. They’ll be able to see things that you might miss and they can also provide an objective opinion.
  4. Review the text in the finished design. A common proofreading mistake that designers make is to have the text checked before it is added to the design. Yet, many typos and spelling mistakes actually occur when copy is added to the design.

Your Turn

What steps do you take to make sure that your design is free of embarrassing goofs?

Published February 13th, 2014 by

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