What’s in a proof?

Proofing is an important part of producing your communications project. But there are two very different proofing stages in the process of communications design.

Design Process

First, there is the design approval. When you work with a designer, you may receive a few different design drafts for your project. At this point you will be able to review the look and feel of the piece and whether it meets your project needs. Based on your review and collaboration with the designer, your project will move forward with revisions until you approve a final draft. Throughout this process you will be able to review the design as well as the content, making sure you have used proper spelling and grammar and that your message is easy to understand. At this point you may be reviewing digital files or prints from a desktop printer.

Things to check in the draft stage, before you submit the file to print:

  • How the fonts look.
  • Sizes of objects, margins, text.
  • Project dimensions.
  • How the overall design looks from a distance and up close.
  • Spelling, grammar, and content.

Printer’s Proof

After you are happy with the design and content of the project, your designer will send the approved file to the print shop. Then you will also be asked to review a printer’s proof. A printer’s proof is an example of how the design file you submitted will look in its final print format. What you’re looking for at this stage is whether all of the elements you placed into the design are coming out correctly in print.

Things to check in the printer’s proof:

  • Color accuracy.
  • Graphics and fonts show up as intended.
  • Content is all there and in the proper order.

Depending on your project you may review digital proofs, pre-press proofs, and/or press proofs. Typically the digital proof and pre-press proof are where the designer will play a critical role in comparing how the digital design translates to a printed format. A press proof offers one last chance to make minor adjustments, based on the approved pre-press proof.

Digital Proofs

In a digital proof, you won’t be able to accurately check the color but you will be able to see how the fonts and graphics will look. Digital proofs are fast, and they can be ideal for small projects and reorders.

Pre-press Proof

When you want to check the way colors will print, we’ll provide a pre-press proof using our calibrated ink jet printer that simulates the final product you will get from the press. This is useful when you’re working with digital artwork that has not been printed in CMYK color before or when you want to match specific brand colors.

Press Proof

On projects that have a large run and critical color, you can come into the print shop to see a press proof. In this case, you will be here when the press starts running your actual job, and you can see the final project coming off the press. If there are any calibrations that need to be made at that point, the press operator will work with you to get the colors just right.

A press proof is less about how the design will look and more about matching an approved pre-press proof. By this point you will have already approved a pre-press proof.

The importance of proofs

We rely on your approved proofs to make sure we print your project the way you want it. This is especially important if there have been changes made during the proofing process. Once you approve a proof, it becomes the sample that brings our team together to make sure your final communication project meets your vision.

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