Each designer will estimate in a slightly different way, regardless there should be a breakdown of costs. It is not your responsibility to ensure that a designer has quoted accurately, however you should compare like with like and understand where and why there are differences in costs. Below is a breakdown of terms often used in an estimate. Not all designers will include all of these categories.

Design / design development/concept   

The development of a unique design appropriate to the project. It may include tasks like research, developing ideas and preparing the presentation. The estimate should detail how much design will be presented for approval (eg cover, text design etc.) and when requests for design changes start to be charged as author’s corrections.

Artwork / formatting / layout

This refers to formatting text into print-ready artwork. The estimate could be based on time, or it could be based on the number of pages in the report – either way it should show how the total is calculated.

Copywriting / editing / proofreading (see also Writing)

Copywriting delivers text written specifically to fit your brief. The estimate should show if the writer is taking responsibility for researching the information, or expecting to re-write from supplied notes.

Editing involves taking existing words and changing them to suit another purpose. Editing may improve the communication, reduce the word count or adjust the language to fit a styleguide.

Proofreading is the checking of existing copy for inconsistencies and inaccuracies. It is usually done prior to printing.

Design management / project management

Design management involves all non-design administrative and management activities such as paperwork, briefings, meetings, managing suppliers, presentations.


The estimate may include fees for additional charges such as couriers. They may be itemised upfront as a range, or as a figure to be ‘allowed’ for.

Author's corrections (A/C's)

These are changes made to the text or the design after the design has been approved.

A/C's are usually the most contentious issue in Annual Report production.

Avoid any misunderstandings by defining the extent of corrections as part of the briefing process.

Design Business Council (dbc) workshops

Preparing a design brief

Evaluating a design presentation

The dbc is a professional development body that helps organisations work with designers. dbc workshops will assist you prepare a brief and then evaluate a presentation.

More information...