They should know better!

When you “take over” a design from another designer, what are some really screwed up things that you’ve seen that really surprise you. Things that you feel like this other designer should know better then doing? For me, it’s text boxes for every paragraph. Drives me nuts, especially if it was done by a creative director.

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I found many an issue, no styles used is a pet peeve.

stretched text, no bleeds, separate text boxes for paragraphs as you already mentioned, not using non-destructive layers, effects, etc. in Photoshop. Those are a few that come to mind. I also agree with @Smurf2, in long documents the lack of styles. Hmmm, “fake” bulleted lists are obnoxious as well.

Back then when I was still a DTP robot, I fixed up somebody else’ art and handed back to the art director. Some time later this AD came back and told me there was a change of style, and he, and the other designers, could not delete the lines that sandwiched the sub-heads. The whole bloody department never heard of “line above” and “line below”.

Using a filled box to mask out a section of a design rather than editing the original art to remove whatever it is that shouldn’t be there.

Files (particularly AIs and PSDs) that are littered with miscellaneous development layers that don’t need to be there and only serve to increase the file size.


Yep, I’ve encountered all of those, but the thing that really bugs me is that most of them were done by art/creative directors. I don’t get it.

I get that from one designer. Same person also loads their designs up with dozens of pantones.

Oh man I get so many things - most of them are from laypeople, or from the before times when certain features like tables didn’t exist, so usually it’s a case of them literally not knowing better…But there was a funny one not too long ago.

Big client calls, wants to know where the posters they ordered are - there are no orders for posters under their name in the system. Panic ensues, turns out they never actually ordered them - one person said they would and never did, etcetera, so they send us their files to print ASAP - they’re standard letter size, and they want them printed half page - boss is already writing back to tell them the ratio doesn’t work like that, but we notice that they actually did their geometry right - they had exact dimensions written down, 4.25"x5.5", so the ratio holds, we don’t have to make any modifications to the poster other than prepress stuff like making sure it bleeds that they didn’t think about. So we print em, get em out the same day - and they call and say they’re too small. They did not, in fact, do their math correctly and want geometric halves, they wanted a sheet cut in half, so then we had to go about getting their art fixed so the proportions didn’t work and printing it - and then they were still unhappy with how small the type was on their own design (it was a small, thin serif font in reverse on black) - I think we just changed the size around until they decided they were good with it…I think they walked away satisfied, but three days after.

It was a bit of a comedy of errors.

(InDesign) A pet peeve of mine is seeing a text box was set with a solid color background instead of using the rectangle tool. Now that i think of it a similar one is instead of using the line tool, someone made a rectangle as outline only and extremely narrow.

One last recent encounter, I went into an old InDesign file to edit the text of a reply card. Should be simple…. literally all text was outlines. When I noticed I just sat there for a minute asking myself “why?”.

Not sure what you mean here. If a text box has a background, there’s nothing wrong with setting the solid colour.

Sometimes if you accidentally click on a graphic or unused frame with the Type tool - it converts it to a text frame. You can turn this behavior off in the Preferences.

This would be where a page was set up with multiple solid color background shapes (all as text boxes without text) and then the actual text was in separate text boxes without backgrounds.
If it was a one off thing I could see someone having clicked into a rectangle with the Type Tool but every background in a page or even multiple pages…? Odd.

They couldn’t output to pdf because they used an unlicensed font. Converting to outlines was the workaround.

Yea, that’s a big one for me (not able to change text because the previous designer converted it to outlines). Hate that.

Yeah but, you don’t BRICK the only working copy of the source file that way.

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I honestly hope that wasn’t what happened. Especially that I ended up adding new text boxes with a common font like Times or Minion to match whatever they had lol

I was running film out for a leaflet, simple one sided thing that was redone every month. For some reason it was always slow going through the RIP, so when I ran the last version it was no surprised that it crashed the RIP.

I found out that rather than starting with a new document every month, the designer had covered up what was there with a white box and done the new design on top. I have no idea how many times this had been done. There were many, many layers to this thing (and this was before document layers).

Of course they tried to blame me but they really should have known better.

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Wow. Where to begin? LOL.

I get a lot of files from other designers and creative firms to remediate them for accessibility. Part of that work includes the proper file setup in InDesign.

I constantly get ID files from designers with 20 years of experience using ID who are still using it wrong or not using it for what it’s made for:

  • not threading text frames in a long document
  • not putting page numbers on a master page
  • applying character styles like they are paragraph styles
  • not using paragraph styles
  • using tabs to indent text
  • using tabs for bulleted lists
  • manually creating a table of contents
  • creating a separate frame to create a background instead of applying that as styling to the text frame
  • creating separate frames with a background color instead of using paragraph shading
  • adding rules manually instead of adding them to a paragraph style

Clipping masks inside of clipping masks inside of clipping masks, making the file 3x bigger than it needs to be. That, and mixing nearly identical Pantone swatches and cmyk swatches.


For some weird reason, I’m getting lots of recent requests for highway billboard sign designs. The clients always want to place five times as much information on the billboard as can possibly be read or remembered in the three or four seconds it takes before the billboard is in their rearview mirror.

Even after I explain what should be common sense, they still seem to think that some sort of magical thing will slow down time and focus a driver’s attention on their billboard. I even had one client tell me that if there are lots of words, drivers will drive around the block to see it a second time.

I’m also having trouble with clients who fail to understand the limitation of a saddle-stitched booklet needing to be built in multiples of four pages. In person, pulling apart a magazine and showing them is easy. Trying to explain it in an email or over the phone, however, baffles them. I don’t know why.

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My biggest one is scaling photos in illustrator. Ya know…you place a 300 dpi photo that is 8x10 and then scale it down to 1 inch wide for some article. Now the 2 meg file is 30. I have had calendars crash my machine because all 12 photos have thumbnails the were done that way. Now I have a 20 gig file when it only needs to 20 meg. FPO people FPO!!

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