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You put long, hard hours into a project. The client likes it, you like it, and it’s been proofread nine times from Sunday.


Whew. You mop your brow, and prepare to save the last iteration of the computer document. It’s had all kinds of names over the course of the project, version 1, version 10.2, and there was a file that was briefly named “clientsux” (but then you came to your senses). Now that it’s been approved, it is ready to go, and you are going to add the word ‘final’ to it. As in: “SalesBrochure_final”.


Ok, now that we’ve all stopped laughing, let’s discuss this little quirk of the mind, particularly in creatives, although I’m sure it is an affliction that can be exhibited by others as well. We want to be done with it. We want to move on to the next project. Maybe we even want to wash our hands of it. But I’ve been doing this for a long time, and very few files that I have ever called ‘final’, ended up being so.

Many of you have already experienced what I’m saying. And for the rest, I hate to break it to you, most of the time, your file is not ‘final’.

There is always something else to change. The client calls with one more addition. As you pick up the proofs, you see something that you wanted to fix a few weeks ago. Or even, the file doesn’t work for the printing company, and they ask you for an updated one. I’ve seen small, $250 print jobs ‘not final’, and large $50,000 web press runs ‘not final’. Web docs? ‘Not final’. Even this blog post? Probably ‘not final’. I once had to make the call to pull a label run where in 48 pt. type, front and center, the word ‘qualty’ (sic) was spelled wrong (the irony of someone misspelling the word quality was not lost on me at the time). How many were printed with this error before someone noticed? OVER 60,000. How many people had proofed it? Dozens! All of them highly trained design, marketing, and production professionals. Let me tell you, that file was definitely ‘not final’. Neither were the tense phone calls back and forth, but that’s a different story…

There are many reasons, but for most of us, final doesn’t mean final. In the end, it ends up being called “SalesBrochure_Final_4”.

But don’t worry. We’ve all done it, and we should all know better.