Lately I find myself watching cooking competition shows like The Food Network’s Chopped. If you haven’t seen it, during each episode, chefs are challenged to three cooking rounds (appetizer, main course, and dessert) where they are given baskets of mystery ingredients they must use to create a dish using their culinary creativity while under a tight cooking deadline. The three main reasons why chefs get eliminated are for not tasting their food, sloppy presentation and forgetting a mystery ingredient.

Does this situation sound familiar? I’m sure more than a few of us professional designers can relate to having finished a project only to have a colleague point out that the CEO’s name was misspelled in a proposal, or a web link was wrong, or some other embarrassing (and preventable) error.

Paying attention to little details makes all the difference between producing mediocrity and generating excellence. If mistakes become habitual, your organization’s brand could be jeopardized. The value in proofing shouldn’t be taken for granted. We’re all human, and understandably, mistakes happen – I’m sure celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey has cooked some culinary misfires over the years.

Below is a great example of a proofing checklist. You can use the content as-is or customize it for when you need a project routed and proofed. It provides steps you can share with stakeholders (admins, project managers, clients etc.) for proofing the amazing projects your team cooks up hot and fresh daily:

Please proof enclosed document using a colorful pen. Keep all materials together in this project folder. Once completed, check off your name, date and forward to the next person on the list. This is the only proof.

  • All factual information is accurate and spelled properly (names, titles, addresses, dates, prices, phone numbers, websites, e-mails and event or product details)
  • All support artwork is appropriately matched to the copy
  • No missing information
  • General spelling and grammar correct
  • Punctuation correct and consistent
  • Bulleted lists are consistent
  • Names and specialized terms were verified and accurate
  • Page numbers and table of contents coincide and are accurate
  • Spacing before and after paragraphs, titles and subtitles is consistent
  • Font sizes for like elements are consistent
  • Messaging and design is consistent with corporate style/brand standards
  • Check all social media elements for proper functionality (i.e. hashtags, links, etc.)