For important print projects, we recommend that our clients review and approve a hardcopy proof before we print the full run. But sometimes it just isn’t possible for the customer to come in to see a proof, and there isn’t enough time for us to deliver or ship one to them. Will an online proof suffice? It depends. Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years about soft (online) and hard (physical sample) proofs:
Reviewing a soft proof can help prevent big mistakes.
Reviewing a soft (digital) proof online can be helpful in identifying missing elements or fonts and in discovering formatting errors. Graphics files today are often large and contain many elements such as linked images. During the export and/or transmission and/or flattening and printing process these elements can get left out of (or mistakenly eliminated from) the final. With respect to fonts, if you look through our blog you’ll see that we write a lot about the problems surrounding fonts and the ways to ensure files will print consistently even with uncommon fonts. An online proof, if reviewed carefully, can spot problems such as images and fonts before the job goes to print. And as the last line of defense, a soft proof gives the client the opportunity for one final review to make sure everything looks in order. You wouldn’t believe how many times errors are discovered by clients after they’ve signed off and directed us to print. Hey, sometimes we can stop the job in production and prevent a re-print, but sometimes it’s too late.
A hard proof is the best way to ensure your project prints perfectly.
In a perfect world, what you see on your monitor is exactly what the finished project will look like. However, in reality the transition from screen to paper (or whatever material you’re printing on) is not so simple and smooth. Your monitor has a backlight and it displays colors using the RGB model. Materials comes in many different colors and shades, they have no backlight, and digital presses print colors on them using the CMYK model. There’s a lot that can go wrong here! We’ve discussed in prior posts how even the slightest differences in paper color (a bright white vs. a soft white, for example) can affect the appearance of images, especially people. And from machine to machine colors will also print differently. It is for these reasons that we always prefer to have our client come and physically inspect the hardcopy proof, ensuring that it not only looks right, it feels right too. Clients that do this are much more satisfied with the end result.
Once approved, most print jobs are printed quite quickly.
You might think that taking the time to come and physically inspect and approve a hardcopy proof will delay your job’s completion, or push you past a deadline. Most of the time this just isn’t the case. Getting the job ready to print sometimes takes longer than the job itself. If we tell you that you have time, believe us! Our policy is to never take on a job we can’t complete by your stated deadline, so if we’re offering you the opportunity to review a hardcopy, take it. It will be worth it.