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Paula Fargo

Benefits of Proofreading Sign Copy

When catching something is good.




Catching fire. Possibly bad.

Catching chicken pox. Most definitely bad.

Catching mistakes. GOOD!

I am always happy and gratified when I see our clients emailing this phrase: “Thanks for catching that!”

Over the years, we have made it a practice to spend some time reading over files that our clients give us “print-ready” for outputting. Even though we did not create the files and, thus, could not be held responsible (by REASONABLE CLIENTS) for errors contained in the wording, we still invest our resources in looking through and pointing out when we have found potential mistakes — typos, grammatical errors, calendar slipups, missing information, names inconsistently spelled — all things that could get our clients in hot water.


All signshops have some version of a prepress/design/graphics department, and most of us charge by the hour. To capture design/prepress time accurately, our graphic design department uses a product called Virtual Time Clock. When I am ready to bill a completed project whose job wends its circuitous way to my desk, I print out the VTC report associated with that job number and make sure 1) if the job is quoted, the time we actually spent is not greater than estimated or 2) if the job is not quoted, we charge for all of the time spent.

When estimating jobs, we try to take into account the time we spend to proofread even print-ready supplied files. If a client has been unreceptive to our proofreading offers in the past, we bypass the proofreading. However, we find that a good 75% of our print-ready jobs are reviewed, and odds are better than 50-50 that we will find at least one horrific error and 80% that we will find at least several grammatical “finesses.”

Before we make any “corrections” to print-ready client files, our CSRs will contact the client to go over our suggestions. Often, we are able to increase our design invoices if the clients want us to make the changes rather than doing it themselves — an additional revenue-generator, while providing huge value to our clients, the classic win-win.

Ultimately, it is up to the client to decide if our comments and recommendations have any merit — however, in our experience, most are invariably happy to at least have the option and to know about potential problems.

Disclaimer: typos are easy to make and even easier to miss. No one is immune from the occasional printed error, present company included.

I’m sure we could regale each other with tales of mortifying typos we have discovered in our clients’ print-ready files, so with such a widespread problem, there is much opportunity for savvy (and grammatically-snobby) signshop owners to shine to their clients.




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