Defintition of “Proof” or “Proofread”

According to the dictionary, what follows are the definitions of two very important words in the world of print:

Proof: copy used for checking errors: a printed copy used for checking corrections before the final printing of a text or image

Proofread: check proofs for errors: to read the proofs of a text and mark corrections to be made
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. If any of you are planning on having anything designed – whether it is something as small as a business card or as involved as a multiple page publication, please pay attention. Trust me, you will thank me later.
Here are several important things that people need to remember when they get a proof back from a graphic designer or printer:
  • No one is infallible or perfect, regardless of how much you are paying them or how professional they may be. Whenever people are brought into the equation, mistakes are possible. When you are given a proof, read it, put it aside for a while and then read it again. Make sure you are given the time to do just that. Turn around times and deadlines are always a consideration, but how much time will be wasted if it has to be printed again?
  • You can’t proof your own work. If you provided text to the person designing your piece, make sure you read it again. After you have looked it over, let someone else read it. You can never have too many eyes on something, especially if it is a large, multiple page project. If you wrote the copy, chances are when you read over it you will read what is supposed to be there. It’s just the way the brain works.
  • Don’t be distracted by the amazing artistic skills of your designer. It’s our job to blow you away, but look beyond the artwork and check all the minor details. You can even be tripped up by something as simple as a business card. Check phone numbers, zip codes, name & street spellings, everything that required a key stroke. Once that is done, feel free to let the artist know how great their design is. (I personally love blowing people away – and compliments are always welcome!) 🙂
  • If you are designing something for yourself, or providing text to the person who will ultimately be doing the layout work, remember, spell check is a wonderful tool, but don’t rely on it totally. Just because you ran spell check doesn’t mean you are out of the woods. It doesn’t pick up grammatical errors (they’re, their, there) or proper names. Don’t use spell check as a fail safe crutch. It’s a great tool, but you can’t use it alone.

OK, I know I’ve said this before, but trust me, I am giving you this information from experience. I’ve made my share of mistakes, and some of them as recently as this past month. I could kick myself for them and I really wish that someone would have caught them sooner than they did – which was too late. I don’t know of any graphic designer or printer that is going to complain about making corrections to a proof – as long as they are legitimate and you are not being totally knit-picky. Whenever a customer apologizes for making corrections, I always tell them that I would much rather correct them during the proofing process than to have them find a mistake when their items are delivered. There is nothing worse than having a customer proof something a couple of times and then call or email me later telling me about a glaring error that was found on their final product. There are some printers and graphic designers who will work with you after the fact, but most probably won’t. Once you sign off on a proof, any errors that are made will be your problem and reprints will be out of your pocket.

Do any of you have a proof nightmare story? I’ve got several, (not all mine, I’ve just been in the business for a while.) I’ll hold off on sharing them for a while. 🙂

 

 

 

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