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Proofing: What is it?

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What is a proof?

A “Proof” is a copy of your printing job.

Why would I want a proof?

A proof will give you one last chance to check that everything is correct before your file is sent to the presses. Alternately, given the proof is the file that is going to be printed, why not make sure that it is correct - it only takes a short time to check a proof.

Proofing Options

While we do our best to ensure that every project is done right, only you know your project well enough to make sure all the elements are in place. Different types of proofs are available and discussed below so you can choose the proof that fits your needs best.

PDF Proofs

PDF proofs are digital facsimiles of your project sent to you by email that you can view on your PC. PDFs (Portable Document Format) are readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader (as well as many other PDF viewers). PDFs are rapidly becoming the industry standard for file transfer and are our preferred format. Color fidelity of PDF files is affected by monitor calibration, lighting and use of Pantone® colors (Pantone® colors do not always appear as true on your screen). Therefore the color you see on screen may not appear as they do in print. However, PDFs provide a reasonable means for checking the accuracy of your files for print. PDF proofs are not intended to be accurate for color. If accurate colors are important to you, you will want to select a hard copy proof. PDF viewers, such as Acrobat Reader are standard and typically included on all computers, tablets, iOS devices, etc. If necessary you may download Acrobat Reader for free here.

Hard Copy Proofs

A hard copy proof is actually printed on paper, and is the very first printing of your job. The following reasons are why you may want to see a hard copy proof before going to print:

  • Colors - The colors you see on your screen will not look the same on paper. Your monitor and the printer use different color models. Plus, colors look different on different papers/media/substrates.
  • Paper density or weight - If you are choosing a type of paper that you have not used before this will allow you to see how your piece looks on that paperstock before the final print run.
  • Cutting and folding - You won’t know how your job will look until it is finished, including being cut to size and/or folded. How you set your document up (dimensions, borders, marks, etc.) is really important. Text or other elements which are too close to trim areas or folds may not look as you expected when you designed your art.
  • Binding - This is your chance to see how the binding method you selected completes your project. You will want to check the order of pages and how the binding affects your design (i.e. margins, hole punches, etc.)
  • Fonts - How your chosen fonts will appear when printed (especially when not embedded, included or converted to outlines) is a potential printing problem that you may want to review.

With digital printing, hard copy proofs will not match a specialty Pantone® color when that Pantone® color falls outside of the CMYK gamut. While we do our best to match colors, certain Pantone® colors will never be precisely the same when converted to CMYK. If you need to have your PMS colors matched precisely, the job will need to be printed with Pantone® spot colors, not CMYK. This is available through our Commercial Offset Printing service. If Pantone colors are not a concern for you... a hard copy proof produced on the digital printers will be an accurate representation of your final product. *Your first hard copy proof is available free of charge, however, a second proof (or more) may incur extra charges. *Hard copy proofs are available as time allows. This is not possible with quick turnarounds.

What To Look For On A Proof

Attention to detail is the key to successful proofing. This checklist will help you make sure you are checking your proofs thoroughly.

  • Does the type/font look correct?
  • Are photos positioned, cropped and scaled correctly?
  • Are text and graphics in the right places?
  • Is the trim size correct?
  • Are borders correct?
  • Are elements appropriately aligned?
  • Are there any typos?
  • Is the pagination correct?
  • Are colors correct? (for hard copy proof only)
  • Do the drop shadows and gradients look correct?

Delivery of Proofs

PDF proofs are emailed directly to you. Hard copy proofs can be picked up, delivered to you, or sent If you have corrections, you have two options:

  1. You may make the corrections yourself and send us new files.
  2. We can make the changes for you (in some but not all cases.)

If you want to see another proof, we can prepare one for you. Production for your job will not begin until we receive approval of the proof.

When should I choose No Proof Required?

If your file is an exact reprint of a job that we have printed for you previously and of which you have already approved a proof.

If you have questions about the proofing process feel free to ask questions when placing your order or requesting a quote.