Imagine that you’ve printed thousands of copies of custom die cut postcards that your customer intends to pass out at an event in a few days. After all the time spent putting the final touches on the design, you think the project is finally complete, but then your customer reaches out to you with a heart-stopping message: something’s wrong with the order. Perhaps the content is misaligned, the colors don’t match their branding, or the copy is completely illegible—whatever the mistake is, these postcards can’t be used, and they’re asking for a total reprint.
For printers and customers alike, this is a nightmare scenario. No one is eager to sink more time and money into reprinting a huge order; not only does it put your print shop behind schedule, it creates a bad customer experience. That’s why many professional printers have developed a robust poofing process over the years. By going through the process of reviewing a proof at different stages of design, you’ll ensure the final product is absolutely perfect.
Of all the different types of proofs you can produce, the print proof is the most critical step. Until you receive a clear decision on this type of proof, it would be unwise to send a job to print. If you aren’t currently taking the time to create a print proof, you’re leaving a lot up to chance.
A proof gives you a chance to show customers what the real thing is going to look like once printing is complete. When you have an active proofing process, you’re able to work with customers to make the necessary changes as early as possible so you can see how those changes will affect the overall design. There are several different types of proofs you can utilize as the design moves forward.
- Soft proofs are shared digitally, usually as a PDF. They’re often used to verify content placement and check for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Digital prepress proofs are similar to soft proofs, but they use higher resolution images and graphics, so they’ll be a larger file size.
- Hard proofs are a type of print proof that are a lower quality version of the final product. They’re usually created to gain an understanding of size and dimensions.
- Press proofs, another type of print proof, are most similar to the final product. They should be printed on the same paper, and the printer should be calibrated to the same settings the final product will use.
By the time a project gets to the print proofing stage of the process, you should have a pretty good idea of how the final design should look. Then, you can start experimenting with different printing options such as silk or velvet lamination, raised UV, or a simple matter or gloss finish.
Yes, You Need a Print Proof
The print proof is one of the most important steps of any printing job and yields several benefits:
Saving Time & Money: Creating a print proof may add a little extra time and cost to the overall project, but they’ll be nothing compared to the added time and cost required to reprint a full order.
Creating Better Final Products: Rather than relying on an image on a screen, a print proof gives designers and customers the ability to see, feel, and even smell what the final product will be like. When you’re able to bring a design to life in the real world, you get to see what does and doesn’t work and make the necessary improvements. You can also test out different materials and printing techniques to push the final design to the next level.
Ensuring Customer Satisfaction: While soft proofing absolutely has a role to play in the review process, it isn’t always enough. That’s because colors vary from monitor to monitor; if you’re only sharing digital proofs, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be color accurate. You’ll even notice differences in color from printer to printer, so if a customer prints a proof out on their office inkjet printer, it still won’t look identical to the final proof. To be sure the customer is completely satisfied with what the final product will look like, you need to take the time to create a print proof.
Print Proof Checklist
If you’re taking the time to create a print proof, you also need to do your due diligence and work with your customer to check everything. To make sure nothing is missed, develop and follow a print proof checklist. Below, we’ve put together some of the big items to get your checklist started, but since every print shop does things a little differently, your checklist will likely need some customization.
1. Linguistic Proofreading: Check for spelling, typos, grammatical errors, and the overall flow of copy.
2. Graphic Proofreading: Check for elements of copy design such as layout, hierarchy, consistency, spacing, leading, tracking, kerning, and more.
3. Image Size and Placement: Confirm whether images have a high enough resolution and whether they’re correctly positioned in the design.
4. Color Accuracy: Determine if the colors appear as intended once printed.
5. Define Bleed and Crop Marks: Make sure the bleed, crop and cuts are lined up properly.
6. Imposition: For bound or multi-page materials, make sure the pages are arranged and oriented correctly so they appear correctly after printing and binding.
7. Paper: Confirm which type of paper (or other material) the final product should be printed on and which printing options the customer wants to move forward with.
By the time a job is ready to go to the printer, you may have made several iterations of a print proof, but remember, that’s a good thing! Putting in the work now saves everybody the headache of reprinting an entire order down the road.
Expedite the Proofing Process With Ashore
Before you finally go to print, there really is nothing better than holding a physical print proof in your hands, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the proofing process needs to be spent marking up printouts of PDFs or emailing feedback back and forth. In fact, these activities are known to slow the process down.
To keep review and approval moving forward at a steady clip, you need a proofing software designed to help print shops collaborate with customers in a streamlined, frictionless way. Ashore was designed by creatives who were tired of being bogged down by the proofing stage of every project. Our platform takes proofing out of your inbox and centralizes feedback in one place. Your customers can easily markup and provide feedback directly on the file, and all activity will automatically be tracked for easy reference.
With an array of other convenient features including version control, version comparison, automated reminders, dynamic tagging, custom proof checklist creation, and full whitelabeling, Ashore is any print shop’s secret weapon. So if you’re ready to take control of your proofing process, sign up for Ashore today!