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Are Design Proofs Important?

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

First of all, most of you may understand the term proofing however many would be wondering what proofing actually is.

Within the education sector, you would recognise this “proof reading”, reading your work to find any possible errors as part of your draft or final copy. Once you have proofed your work, you would be ready to present it or hand it in as you are confident that your work is full of errors.

Graphic Designers in the Creative Industry actually create artwork based on or around your brand, your ideas or your competitors. Either way, once they have a concept, they proof the drafts to you. Designers tend to have lots of good ideas related to creativity however copyrighting, grammar, English and spelling are not their forte and they rely on you or a member of their team to Proof their work too.

Once your artwork is ready (Or you think it is ready), depending on where you send it, they will require a different method to make the artwork “Print Ready”. Many factors come into play; which substrate or media you are using, which print methodology you are using, local or overseas, digital or traditional, etc… All these factors affect the way a file should be set up and 99 times out of a 100, the designer has no clue and also could not care less as that is a technical and not a creative element.

At this stage, the printer will provide you information to give to your designer to make the files print ready! Again, 99 times out 100, the designer will tell you that it is not their problem because it is a “printer” issue or they will tell you that it is an extra fee to do that.

The printer generally can do the prepress on your designs and will do them if the artwork has sufficient properties to be made print ready! Printers certainly do not have to do this for free as some designs can take hours to make print ready if you are not the “original” designer working on the artwork.

Fact is, when a printer is supplied a file that is properly set up and has no issues at all, the file should be able to be used and sent straight to print for processing. A proof would be raised (Does not have to) to show that what you have supplied as a file is also what is being printed.

If the printer is supplied a file that is not properly set up or has issues with it, the file will be to be rejected or manipulated to be print ready! If there is manipulation required, a proof will always be provided to show what has been changed but more so to confirm that what is being printed matches what the customer needs. This Proofing process is in the control of the customer. The customer is 100% responsible for the approval to go to print.

Some Printers also do have Design Studios Internally! This means that you can go to your Local Printer and get all your design, print, finishing and distribution from the one place. Ultimately, in this scenario, proofing is even more critical and remains the responsibility of the client to proof and approve.

Customers’ responsibilities

Proofing is evidently pretty simple: Pick up errors. Well, it is not as easy as that… You cannot just glance at a design and quickly provide an authority to print. If you do an there is an error, it is your responsibility because you did not take care and time to properly proof the “print ready artwork”. If you do not take care and follow simple steps to ensure your design is error free, and you find an error after the design has been pushed to production, it is then your responsibility and at your cost to reprint if you choose to reprint.

Proofing Steps

First of all, request a High Resolution PDF to ensure that the file is as accurate as possible. This is also called a Digital Proof.

Step 1: Confirm that it is your artwork

Step 2: Check headers, footers, content and copyright for accuracy

Step 3: Check for colour consistency and accuracy

Step 4: Check for non-print information such as die lines, fold lines, printers’ marks, drilled holes, etc…

Step 5: If you are entirely satisfied everything marries up then you can give your authority to print to your printer. If you are >1% unsure, then ask for a Hard Proof so that the printer can produce a single sample so that you can hold it in your hand, share it with others, play with it and make sure that you are purchasing what you expected.

Step 6: Reject or Approve

Not proofing is expensive because it is not everyone else’s issue, it is yours as the customer as you are the one approving the process to continue and your products to get printed. Too many times we hear of customers wanting their money back, not wanting to pay for a job because they approved the job and the proof without actually proofing properly. This scenario is not fair on the printer and this also jeopardises the relationship between all parties concerned.

Overall, do your proofing steps carefully and you will not feel the brunt of the cost of a reprint.

Happy proofing 😊

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