Ever since the first days of the Gutenberg press, print proofing was the only safeguard against mistakes. Printing can only ever reproduce the final approved copy. Whatever typos, colors errors, or layout issues exist in the proof will be found on every print.
That can be disastrous!
It’s not the end of the world for a handful of leaflets. However, companies often invest thousands (even millions) of dollars in printing brochures, booklets, and other documents. Any errors not only cost them money, but they also impact a company’s reputation.
Luckily, in the several centuries since Johannes Gutenberg, print-proofing techniques and innovations have proved game-changing. There is even new online proofing software available to revolutionize your proofing process.
What is Print Proofing?
Traditionally, a print proof involved firing up the press to produce several design printouts. These were the ‘test copies.’ Proofreaders and designers would pour over these copies to look for the most minute errors and mistakes.
In more modern printing, as designs have advanced, proofing also involves assessing layout, colors, images, and text as they will appear in the final product. It serves as a final check to prevent errors and ensure the printed materials meet branding guidelines, client expectations, and the printer’s standards.
Common Print Proofing Techniques
Not all prints are the same. Depending on the industry, you may request a specific type of print proof before final approval. These include:
- PDF Proofs: Digital files, often PDFs, are shared electronically for a quick and cost-effective review of the layout and text.
- Hard Copy Proofs: Physical printed proofs that closely resemble the final product are used to assess the chosen material’s color and texture.
- Color Calibrated Proofs: Produced using devices calibrated for color accuracy, these are essential for color-critical work to ensure fidelity.
- Blueline Proofs: Economical pre-press proofs are primarily for checking text layout and content placement, not color accuracy.
- Digital 3D Mock-ups: Virtual representations of the printed piece, instrumental in packaging, to visualize shape, design, and overall look.
- Progressive Proofs: Printed sheets showing each individual color and their combined effect are important for multi-color print jobs to assess the build-up of color layers.
Advantages of Print Proofing
Print proofing isn’t optional; it’s imperative. As a critical step in the quality control (QC) process, proofing acts as a safeguard against errors or embarrassing mistakes. It ensures the final output aligns perfectly with the original design, allowing for color, positioning, and typography adjustments.
Here are some of the key benefits:
Print proofing is, first and foremost, a cost-saving strategy. As the old saying goes, “measure twice, cut once.” Take your time; it’s much easier to make changes during the proofing stage than to go back and rectify a printed product.
Correcting mistakes, either on a digital or hard copy proof, prevents the loss of materials and labor involved in a full print run. Moreover, with reduced time spent rectifying errors post-production, projects stay on budget and on schedule. That leaves more time and resources to spend on further growing the business or even printing more copies.
To a design agency, client satisfaction is paramount – it pays the bills. Ensuring clients get a chance to preview the final product and give it their seal of approval helps build trust and confidence. But it also safeguards against recrimination if a disgruntled client later decides a print isn’t to their satisfaction.
Instead, you provide a transparent platform for client feedback and involvement, sharing responsibility for the finished print.
Enhanced Professional Reputation
The quality of the print and the number of mistakes are the hallmarks of a professional. Delivering high-quality, error-free print materials showcases a commitment to excellence.
Not everyone can afford to go to reprint.
A magazine, for example, would spend a sizable portion of its profits on a reprint. However, in this industry, there simply isn’t the time. So, editors, writers, and graphic designers would suffer the embarrassment of their errors being available to every reader. Indeed, some newspapers once earned a reputation for their sloppy grammar.
But the reverse is also true – high-quality prints set a company apart from its competitors, strengthening its position in the market.
Latest Print Proofing Advancements
Gone are the days when print proofing meant turning on the printing press. New innovations in soft proofing (aka digital proofing) save companies time and money. For example, previously, digital proofing relied on sending a PDF back and forth via email. It wasn’t uncommon to scan documents with edits before printing them again. Cumbersome, right?
Labor-saving advancements have reduced the workload of designers and printers and further refined the printing proofing process.
Cloud-based proofing platforms allow the designer to upload a soft proof online. Multiple stakeholders, including team members or clients, can review and mark up proofs in real time from anywhere in the world. No confusion or vague feedback – individuals can pinpoint what they want to change. Plus, with clear version control, everyone works on the latest iteration, minimizing confusion and errors.
Furthermore, certain niche proofing platforms, e.g., for packaging, let designers emulate how colors will appear in various lighting conditions. By simulating the final print materials, fewer (if any) hard proofs need to be created.
It’s a level of interactivity unimaginable just a few years ago.
Print proofing is the final line of defense against costly mistakes and reputational embarrassment. New innovations, like cloud-based proofing platforms, are revolutionizing the process. But further improvements integrating digital proofing tools into content or project management systems can facilitate an even smoother workflow.
Ashore promises all that and more. Built for creatives by creatives, it’s a complete online proofing platform allowing teams to annotate and edit all forms of printed files, including images and PDFs. Using the platform, you can collaborate seamlessly, control the workflow, and highlight any mistakes.Ready to take your print proofing to the next level? Get started today for free.