Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quality is job one!

I spent a little time blogging about the topic of quality assurance (aka QA or QC—quality control) previously in my post: QA—A Little Help for Everyone. In it, I discuss the value of QA and provide my readers with a link to proofreaders marks, an important tool for editing documents. And, since it’s an apropos follow up to my last post, I thought I’d delve a little deeper this time around.

Diving deeper was a direct result of a situation that arose with some mistakes on a magazine we designed. After it was printed, our client informed us that there were at least two misspellings that were our fault. This forced us to find ways to incorporate checks and balances into our QA process. We moved forward with a solution for ensuring that items such as these were not missed in the future.

In addition to requesting lists of names, photo credits, photo captions, etc.—which we were already doing—we created a QA checklist. Since then, it’s been an imperative tool for proofing, for both our clients and us.

It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many details go into a document. A simple mistake can cost thousands. The rules differ for each job we produce, so, we created a template that can be customized to fit any project.

Here are some of the basic categories (we ask our clients to ensure the following items appear correctly on the piece):

______ Mandatory elements are included (per client request)
______ Proper nouns - such as companies, names, titles, locations, cities, etc.
______ Contact information
_____ emails _____ addresses _____ phone numbers _____ fax numbers
_____ URL’s _____ websites
______ Facts and figures (Annual Reports, specifications, etc.)
______ Dates
______ Photo captions
______ Photo credits
______ Make sure photos match corresponding headlines and captions
______ Define grammatical style and rules
______ Define special rules (rules specific to the document)
______ Table of contents (especially if pagination has changed a lot or last minute)
______ Pagination
______ Fonts

Then, if applicable :
______ Product imagery
______ Legal marks
______ Design rules (if style guide is supplied)
______ Other : Please describe here [special rules that were established during design (i.e. paragraph capitalization and indentation, etc.) or special rules established by the client].

We note all applicable rules on our QA checklist, and we send this to our client prior to final proofing. In the first version, we typically send the following statement:

Upon review of the items listed above, please submit any additional edits to the designer or project manager.

The final QA checklist (signed, dated, and faxed back to us prior to going to print) states the following:

Once edits are completed and approved, please sign below.

I have carefully reviewed and approve all artwork, design and verbiage on this project. By signing below, I release MORRIS from liability due to photographic or typographic errors. I authorize MORRIS to begin print production.

This list can also be further expanded on for web jobs.

At MORRIS, quality is non-negotiable. Having an effective system of checks and balances in place helps ensure that our clients receive what is expected.

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