File Prep 101: Fail-Proof Proofing

Printers use a loupe to review 4C image proofs

Proof review is usually the last time most customers see a job before delivery.  This critical step, when done properly, prevents the unnecessary delay and expense of reprinting.  The type of proof you receive will depend on the job specifications.  While there are exceptions, you should receive one of the following:

  • A PDF proof: A PDF is perfect for jobs with text and line art (graphics, logos, etc.)  It confirms the position and color break, as well as foil stamping, embossing, trim, folds and die cuts.  However, PDFs don’t show PMS colors accurately, so check the Pantone swatch book to make sure the right color has been specified.
  • A hard copy proof:  A hard copy proof must be shown if the job contains 4C process images.  You should also consider a hard copy proof if the piece has a window, a complicated fold or other specification that cannot be adequately proofed with a PDF.

Once you receive your proof, make sure that:

  1. The file you released was correct and that the proof matches the file
  2. There aren’t any typos and that phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, etc. are correct
  3. Bleed, safety, trim and fold marks are correct
  4. Type and art are printing in the correct position, colors and at the proper resolution
  5. If applicable, any address or graphic that shows through a window does so correctly

If you need an extra day or two to review the proof, speak to your printer about a revised delivery schedule.  It’s always better to take a little extra time than to reprint.

-Pat Hanke, Customer Service Manager at

About Sari McConnell

Sari oversees strategic partnership opportunities and heads up Conformer’s San Francisco office. Sari was formerly the managing director of a venture-backed music and multimedia agency in San Francisco and New York. She began her career in brand management at Hallmark Cards, Clorox, and LeapFrog. Sari is an appointed member of the Bay Area Regional Council of Northwestern University and is an active volunteer at her children’s schools. She received her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and her B.A. from Northwestern University as well.
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