Graphic Design Contract: What to Include in Your Contracts

Working in the graphic design field is an exciting, rewarding, creative venture that comes with lots of pluses — especially if you have started your own business, and you're taking on your own clients. However, for each of those clients, it's important that you have a contract in place so that both parties understand the expectations of the work and agree upon how it will be completed. Continue reading to learn what should go into your graphic design contract, and why exactly it's so important.

The importance of contracts in graphic design work

Anytime you take on work between you and a business or individual client, it's important to establish a contract agreement that both parties sign before you begin any of the agreed-upon services. Having a contract in place ensures that both parties are in agreement of what is to be expected for the services rendered, the compensation that will be paid for those services, the expected timeline of the work, and any additional limitations or clauses that are necessary.

For the client, this ensures that all of their requested services will be completed within the proper timeline and reach their standards for quality before a final payment is rendered for the work. In short, it means that the client will feel secure in receiving the services they are paying for.

For you as the graphic designer, a contract will help protect the time and effort you put into the services you complete for your client. It lays out all of the expectations and limitations of the job you are performing so that you can fully understand the scope of the client's needs to deliver your best work, while also setting boundaries to ensure you are not being exploited or taken advantage of.

It's important that all of these expectations and agreements are drawn up into a contract that both parties sign, so that the relationship of your work and services are secured in writing.

What to include in your contracts

When you're trying to navigate what should be in your graphic design contract, it may be helpful to create a contract template for yourself that includes all of the base requirements and expectations that will remain consistent across multiple clients. For example, you might have a maximum of two revision rounds that is written into every contract, regardless of the project or client you are working with. Creating a basic framework for your contracts in this way will save you time so that you don't have to draft up each new contract from scratch before the start of each new work agreement. With the template you've created for yourself, you can then tweak and customize any small changes that are necessary for each individual project or client.

Here are a few things to consider including in your contract:

  • A detailed description of the service and project
  • A projected timeline for the scope of the project, including any deadlines for deliverables
  • Your rate for compensation, whether you charge on an hourly basis, a flat fee, or a package price
  • Additional payment details such as your accepted payment methods, how long the client has to submit payment after an invoice is received, any late fees that you charge, and whether you require a deposit or up-front payment percentage for the project
  • Revision guidelines and limitations
  • Guidelines for communication such as including email communication, or a limited number of phone calls or meetings
  • A termination clause, including a time frame that your client is able to terminate the contract if they wish, or a cancellation fee that goes into effect if they cancel after the grace period has ended


Starting new projects and building rapport with new clients is an exciting part of running your own graphic design business. To safeguard your work, time, and effort, working with contracts in place for each of your clients is a good way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the professional relationship between you will go as smoothly as possible.

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