I recently read an article of a professional sports team that had a glaring misspelling on their team t-shirts. It was an error of just one letter in the team's city name, but it was an embarrassing mistake for everyone involved—the team, the printer, and the fans who bought the shirts before they were pulled from the store and had to be reprinted.
We’ve all, at some point or another, seen someone with a shirt that has something misspelled on it. Most of the time these misspellings are usually from bad translations from overseas companies, like the “Engrish” seen on clothing throughout Asia.
But even printers that natively speak the language they’re printing on shirts can end up with mistakes, and this can be incredibly embarrassing for all involved; from the customer who didn’t notice at the time of purchase, to the shop that printed the shirt, and to the artist that designed it.
If you’re in the screen printing or t-shirt printing business and you get an order for shirts that involves text, follow these simple steps to ensure you catch any errors before losing time and money printing bad shirts.
1. SHOW THE TEXT TO MULTIPLE PEOPLE
Perhaps the simplest way to catch a mistake is to show a few people the design and get them to read it. While it’d be nice to believe that we could spot any problems ourselves, the truth is our brains are very, very good at reading what should be there instead of what is there. That’s partly how simple problems — a single letter missing, or out of place, for example — can go through multiple stages of a design process and not be noticed. By getting multiple sets of eyes onto a problem you increase the chance of someone noticing.
2. USE A “SPELLCHECKER”
If you don’t have multiple people to show, or can’t for whatever reason — or simply don’t trust those around you to be attentive enough! — write the text exactly as it appears into a word processor and run it through the spell checker on your computer. Assuming it’s not a fictional word, say from pop culture (“quidditch” from the Harry Potter books, for example), your spellchecker should pick it up.
3. GOOGLE SEARCH
Fictional words, people’s names, and some location names will show up as incorrect on a spellchecker even if they’re right. For this reason it’s a good idea to use a Google search of the word in question. For example, “quidich” is completely unrecognised by a spellchecker and could be either an awful misspelling or exactly right. When you enter it into Google, you get two options — either Quidich, a company that sells aerial technologies in India, or Quidditch, the popular sport in the Harry Potter universe. It should be fairly obvious by the design of the shirt which word is actually meant.
4. HIRE SOMEONE TO DOUBLE CHECK
Ideally this would be for text that’s not in your native language. There are a variety of affordable online services that allow you to connect to native-speakers of just about any language to check the spelling of words you’re completely unfamiliar with. These can run as low as $5 a service, which you might even be able to spread across a few designs — a cost that’s nothing compared to the revenue you’ll make selling the shirts, and a lot more affordable than having to recall and replace clothes with errors.
5. THE BOTTOM LINE
In an ideal world, a shirt design would be a hundred percent error free by the time it arrived for printing, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. It might be annoying to check yourself before you go to print, but the slight cost to your time is nothing compared to the frustration, embarrassment and cost you’ll face if you let an unfortunate mistake get printed and delivered to your customer.
ASPA Staff and others