Printing Lingo: What is a Proof?

A Proof is a close representation of how a piece will appear when printed

What are Printing Proofs?

A proof is a preliminary version of a printed piece. It provides a close representation of how the piece will appear when printed. Proofs are created to ensure that the client and printer completely agree on the desired outcome before going to press.

A proof is vitally important because it helps prevent unforeseen problems with text, images, colors, spacing and other design elements. Finding and correcting layout issues before going to press not only saves valuable time, it also helps avoid the aggravation and expense associated with a reprint.

Soft Proofs vs Hard Proofs

A soft proof is an electronic file, such as a PDF, that is created for display on a computer monitor. The file simulates the appearance of the finished printed piece. Soft proofs are popular because they can be emailed to the client for approval, which greatly speeds up the proofing process. Soft proofs are very economical to create and are commonly used for print projects that are simple, like business cards, flyers or postcards.

Unlike a soft proof, a hard proof is a physical sample. A hard proof is generally used for print projects that are more involved. For example, a hard proof might be provided for a brochure or book to ensure the pages, margins and general construction appear as intended. A hard proof is also commonly provided for projects that have unique folds, close registration, varying ink shades, die cut sections, embossed areas or anything else that may need special review prior to production.

Are Proofs Provided Free?

It will depend on the printer, but in most cases a soft proof will be provided at no additional cost. A hard proof may be provided free or there may be a charge if it includes extensive detail or complexity. It all depends on the degree of accuracy the client and printer agree upon beforehand. Your printer will explain any costs associated with each proofing method and let you choose the one that best suits your project.

Give Formax Printing a call at 866.367.6221 or submit our quote request form. if you have any questions about proofs or the proofing process. We strongly believe that printing proofs ensure a successful outcome, so we provide them for every job. As Ben Franklin (a printer by trade) once said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Take care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221 or by submitting our easy quote request form. Rick and the Formax team have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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