Proofs. Who needs ‘em?
We recommend that our clients review and approve a hardcopy proof before we print a project. 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. 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 often it’s too late.
A hard proof is the best way to ensure your project prints perfectly.
Of course, different screens may also provide different appearances. (Have you ever looked at the wall of TV’s in Wal-Mart or Meijer and noticed how each looks different when showing the same image?) In a perfect world, what you see on your monitor is exactly what the finished project will look like. 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 come 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! 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 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 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. 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 proof, take it. If we tell you that you have time, believe us!
Believe us, we believe you!
There is one more thing to consider. When you tell us a job is ready to print, we move it right into production. At that point, it is usually too late to make changes, so you want to be sure everything is as you want it. Know that when you tell us the job is good to go, we believe you!