The Scoop on Print Proofs

A proof is a sample piece of your project, used in the printing industry to verify print accuracy.

Proofs are intended for a visual inspection of your project by showing you a piece of it. The proofing process helps ensure that the color and layout of your project is as you intend them to be. This step is completed prior to sending the entire project to the press for final printing.


Proofing Methods

There are two main types.

PDF, Virtual or Digital Proofs

Sometimes referred to as soft proofs, these time-efficient proofs are reviewed online quickly and easily to visually verify general layout and colors. With this type of proof, you'll be looking at the printers file setup on a computer screen. You should verify that colors, trim marks, fold lines and any other necessary specifics for your project are present, properly placed and accurate. PDF proofs give a great general visual that your project is ready for success.  
Virtual proofs are common for simple, uncomplex print jobs or projects with expedited turnaround times. Examples would include business cards, postcards, brochures, booklets, menus, banners, promotional items and so on.

Hard Copy, Printed or Physical Proofs

As their common names imply, these proofs are tangible and roughly assembled for in person inspection. They provide greater detail of your project's color, trims, folds, etc. Once approved, the hard copy proof then becomes the guideline throughout the duration of your projects printing. Periodically, the printer will compare the proof to the printed pieces as they come off the press, verifying that colors are consistent and the layout has not shifted.

Curative Printing Blog PDF and Printed Proofs

Print Proofing Process

Before you sign off or approve a proof, anything that looks amiss should be discussed with the printer. There may be a simple explanation or it could be something that has been entirely overlooked. Catching mistakes during the proof approval before the printing process is paramount! Little oversights can be costly to customers and even ruin print project timelines.

Ultimately, proof approvals are intended to provide customer and printer peace of mind, making sure both are on the proverbial 'same page'.


Proof Checking Tips

Take the time to thoroughly and carefully review the proof. Inspect it backwards and forwards. Then double back for a detailed check of the following:

Check the overall dimensions and layout.

Verify that fonts have not changed and art has not shifted.

Examine that your are the high quality that you expect.

It is possible for colors to shift if the press isn't being calibrated.

And finally, put the proof in front of a second set of eyes for one final check. Fresh eyes, often provide fresh perspective and often catch overlooked errors.


Proof Approval

Approval is the last step in the process after reviewing an accurate proof. The provider will ask you to 'sign off' or give approval. Often times, they provide you with an actual proof approval form. Regardless, your signature is the best assurance that every aspect of the printer's work and your own is correct. Your approval is a green light for the printer to start printing the final product. 

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