common graphic design mistakes

Success blog.

Shanda Boren

Graphic Design Director


Even seasoned professionals forget a few fine details every now and then.


Whether you're a design professional or an at-home enthusiast, use our quick reference checklist below to ensure your graphic design projects will look great. 

The 8 most common graphic design mistakes are:


  1. Not accounting for bleeds
    Bleed is a printing term that refers to design elements, which extend beyond the print edge of your design piece. Setting a bleed eliminates the white, unprinted edge around your designs and gives the printer a little wiggle room when it comes to cut lines. I usually set my bleeds around .125 inches or 9 points.

  2. Not packaging
    When you package a file, the project and all of the images and fonts you used will be placed together in a folder. This ensures that, when you send a file to a printer or another designer, you can make sure they are getting all the information. No more outlining fonts or having the recipient find the font and download it themselves.

  3. Relying too much on design trends
    Resist the temptation! For short term projects like flyers and social media posts, design trends are a great way to stay relevant, but for projects like logos or long term promotional materials, it’s best to stick with designs that will stand the test of time. What looks good now may make your design look dated in a year or so.

  4. Not adjusting the kerning and leading
    For those not familiar with the terms, kerning is when you adjust the space between letters and leading is when you adjust the space between lines. This is a great way to make a paragraph of text fit within your design, make a logo look perfect, or make a difficult font behave.

  5. Using too many fonts
    Don’t let your project look cluttered. It’s a good rule-of-thumb to use a maximum of 3 fonts in a design. If you are having trouble, use different fonts within the same family or colors to mix things up.

  6. Not making designs easily accessible
    You would be surprised how many people have poor eye sight or disabilities that require a little more thought when it comes to design. To help your designs become more accessible, bump up the contrast of your text and be sure to not make the font size too small. If you look under View > Proof Setup in Adobe Illustrator, there are options to view your project as a color blind person would. There are also fonts that make it easier for people with dyslexia to read. (Web Design Tip: make descriptions of images more in-depth for those using screen readers.)

  7. Raster vs. Vector
    The biggest difference between Photoshop and Illustrator is that Photoshop produces raster files-- images made up of pixels. Illustrator, on the other hand, creates vector images. Illustrator uses formulas to create the shapes so no matter how big the image is when it’s reproduced, it will never look pixelated. If you are creating something that will always remain small, it’s not a big deal to create it in Photoshop; but for projects like logos they should always be created as a vector file so they can go on anything from business cards to billboards.                  

  8. Failing to proofread
    Look. Over. Your. Work. It may seem a little obvious to include this one in the list, but failing to proofread is one of the easiest mistakes to make. We’ve all sent off a “finished” design only to find a typo or a shape out of place (and if you haven’t, trust me, you will.) Your safest bet is to have a coworker or friend look it over. Test printing a project is also a great way to prepare for the final reveal of your work to make sure colors and bleeds are working the way you want them to.


If you need graphic design advice, give us a call at 573.803.2875!