Graphic design pet peeves

What are some of your design pet peeves that you regularly encounter and that you wish would disappear?

I’ll start because I’m dealing with one right now with a client who requested it.

I dislike designing anything other than stationery at 8.5x11 inches. I suppose if I lived outside the metric-averse U.S., I might dislike A4 sizes just as much, but I do think that A4 has better proportions than the dull and boring 8.5x11 inches.

Anyway, other than the less-than-ideal proportions, anything designed to those dimensions looks ordinary, standard, and average. The size is the default and the one everyone uses. It’ll fit nicely into a filing cabinet to never be seen again. The size also stacks nicely into that pile of papers on one’s desk that will be tossed into the trash once the pile grows tall enough.

It’s a terrible size that reeks of the ordinary and uncreative. As first impressions go, few good pieces of graphic design are good enough if they only make an ordinary first impression.

I have to agree. I am in A4-world and I actually quite like the pro and, conversely, don’t really like working with US-letter pro. It always feels off.

I always assumed that was a case of familiarity and liking what you know, so it is interesting to hear from someone habituated to the US pro think the same.

Every year, I work on materials for an event that happens cross-pond and I’ve always found that adapting materials to fit the US-letter format feels unnatural and somehow, a little forced. It just doesn’t seem to sit right in its space.

I’ve never voiced that opinion, but it’s always been a bit of a background, foggy niggle.

‘Can you do it in Word?’

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List is far too long but here’s a few from recent

Receiving artwork files where they set the Unit Increments to 0.000001mm so you can’t nudge something with the keyboard arrows.

Bleed set to 3mm and crop marks set at 2.117mm

Registration marks included on a 1 colour document

3 of the same spot colour in a file (Pantone 186C Pantone 186C2 Pantone 186C3)
(3 plates for the same dang colour)

Black not set to overprint

White set to overprint

Transparency effects used in Spot colours


I really don’t care what format a client wants it designed on. You can make an interesting design for any size piece of paper.

One thing that peeved me recently was a company getting ripped off by another designer.

I priced up some posters for them. And then they asked could I do the billboard version and asked how much it would cost.

I quickly calculated that it would take about 30 minutes to convert it from A3 Portrait to landscape version size for the billboard. (It was a very simple design).

So I just said, 30 minutes, but I won’t charge you for that (I charge 15% on the print anyway so it covers things like Repro work and admin fees etc.)

I just said it won’t cost you any design fees if we handle the printing.

He was shocked and saddened and asked why the story he told me was horrifying.

The last company he used would charge him for a design of a A2 poster.
Then the same price to have it in A3 or A4.
And then if they wanted a billboard they were charging them almost €1000 to design it for a billboard format.

I guess they didn’t know that you can just scale up or down on the printer.
Reformatting doesn’t take long as long as the base design is already there.

In short, I charged him to design 1 format in A2, and then any other size design was free of charge. As long as we handled the printing (so I can mark up the print a bit to cover extra costs down the road, distribution, transport etc)

Anyway - turns out it saved him overall what used to cost - he saved money, and made money - and I made a fair bit on the print.

It was win-win-win for everyone.

But he couldn’t believe it - he was horrified by what he got charged by the other company.


So my pet peeves really are that other designers don’t know or give a crap of what they’re doing - and other designers ripping off clients to charge the same price for menial tasks.


Also have another one - I saw a sign in the town were the local pub had a new beer garden and one of the words was something like
New Daught Beers Available - where it should be (Draught)
I was looking it everytime I was walking the dog in the morning.

One morning I saw a man opening up the shutters and I asked if he was the owner. I introduced myself. And mentioned the misspelled word.

He said that the sign company refused to fix it because he supplied the text like that… and I was shocked. He looked disappointed and knew it looked bad for his sign and his business. But he agreed with the sign company he supplied it that way and the sign company refused to fix it unless he paid for a whole new sign and installation of that sign - basically repaying for the entire job.

I just told him I’d fix it, free of charge, if he gave me some of the next work.
He agreed.
I replaced the word Daught with Draught by removing Daught, used the same font and size, reduced the tracking exactly to the width of the R

You’d barely even notice unless you 100% knew you were looking for it.

He was delighted, and I’m his go to guy.

That sign company has a bad rep in the town now, and others are using me, word of mouth I guess.

My number one peeve is Bleed.

  • documents supplied without bleed
  • having to explain why bleed is necessary

but most of all …

  • Crop Marks Offset defaulting to 2.117mm (1/12 inch) when the bleed is commonly 3mm. OK if you work in inches you may want to use 1/12 inch as your bleed, but why are these two different settings? Why not make them one setting, or even better change the Crop Marks Offset to start at the bleed, not the page edge.
    Crop Marks Offset should be the same as Bleed, or a little bit outside, but never, never inside the Bleed. Yes it is easy to change the defaults but a lot of people don’t bother. Please, Adobe, change the default settings.

Yes I have the same gripe. I struggle to find a reason why you would have crop masks inside the bleed.

At least they should have a link/unlink icon. But default set to link.

You should put it as a feature request on Adobe Feature request site.

I think it only took 6 years of campaigning to get foot notes to span columns…

The only time I ever see three Pantones with the same number is when the designer has changed the sliders on the Pantone color to make it a different color. I print digital. I don’t care if you make your Spots transparent if you want, but don’t change the sliders on a Pantone color.

RGB files. We worked in print, :roll_eyes:

I take RGB files too. :slight_smile:
Especially if they are real RGB, not sRGB, and not converted from CMYK.
More color info for the printer profiles, and I still have 2 vendors with RGB lambda printers. At least until the parts run out.

We have several forum members who make pretty good arguments for letting printers’ RIPs do the conversion on RGB photos to CMYK. I still prefer to control the process myself, and most of the offset printers I work with still request CMYK.

Digital printing confuses the whole issue since it typically involves a 6-color separation rather than 4, in which case letting the printer handle the conversion from RGB will result in a larger printed color gamut.

Then again, set up the file incorrectly and send over RGB black body text, and a registration mess will ensue with little colored rainbows decorating the edges of the fuzzy body text.

I’m glad that I’m not in a pre-press sort of situation where I need to deal with other people’s messes. Any mess that I make is usually one of my own doing. :wink:

Oh, I should’ve explained - I worked on packaging and displays primarily litho. The printers were vendors for our client and sometimes we wouldn’t even know where it was going-there were varied production pipelines. I do know that none of them would accept anything in RGB, I’m totally sympathetic to the idea that a linked photo asset should stay RGB. Our printers would kick those back every time though.

My actual gripe was that I struggled to get our own designers to produce mechanical layouts in CMYK or to understand why converting brand colors was a problem. They just acted completely cavalier about it. I ended up working with our Creative Director to create a best practices guide… that they ignored.

Where it’s appropriate :innocent:

There was a time my first task every morning was to open all the images sent to use and run them through a photoshop action to convert all the images to CMYK.
It used to take all morning to run the batch.

But times have changed.

There’s a pretty good article here
Why You Should Import RGB Images Into InDesign and Convert to CMYK On Export | CreativePro Network.

I have a couple that are rather specific to my situation, but I’m sure the same things happen to others, at least in principle.

In one aspect of my function served to a primary client (under contract, full time), I author technical documents, working with/for a team of product Engineers. I write the verbiage, produce illustrative visuals, and design the documents in whole, although there is a company style guide, and several established templates, some of which I authored, and others that existed before my time there. The work is meticulous, detailed, and subject to multiple formal and stringent reviews by the Engineering team, the Legal Department, the Technical Support team, Product Management, Corporate Quality Assurance, and others.

Those reviews can be brutal. Ultimately, they result in a high-quality final product, and over time I’ve gotten good at anticipating the typical facets of scrutiny involved, but one thing I shouldn’t have to anticipate is inconsistency. For the approvers, of course reviewing my output is not their primary function, so attention spans can vary somewhat. It’s not rare enough that one of them will raise a big flag over piece of content that is a direct repeat of something they approved without a whimper just a few weeks before, often pertaining to the same product family (hence the duplication of relevant, previously-approved content). Sometimes it’s enough that I explain to them how their prior approval has resulted in that exact thing already having gone to publication, and how valuable consistency is on the user end of the process. Other times that consistency objective, and their insistence, dictate that the content gets recomposed to satisfy the approver(s), and the previously-approved piece (could be several pieces, all in multiple languages) gets revised with the same fix—all work that could have been saved had they rejected it the first time. It has bred in me a very special flavor of detachment.