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Paper Proofs – Keeping It Real

We care about quality and we’ve got the proof to show it. In our previous post we touched on some ways good file preparation can improve the final printed piece. This time let’s focus on something we do to ensure the best results – our proofing system. It’s simple, really. We supply proofs for approval on the actual stock your job will print on, printed on the actual press that will run it.

Yes, we know many printers today rely on PDFs emailed to the customer for final approval. Although we will do this if the client requests it we are very firm believers in the “No Surprises” way of doing business. Sending PDFs for approval can have a number of drawbacks. If viewed on a monitor the color will not be accurate because the screen is RGB and monitors vary wildly in color depending on their settings. Printing the PDF out on a desktop laser printer for review is also a hit or miss proposition. The best way to know if the job will be output the way you want it is to see it in all its printed glory.

An actual proof that you can hold in your hands serves many purposes. It allows you to see the colors as they will appear when printed, to check the resolution of all photos and art to be sure it will reproduce well, and see whether any type has reflowed – particularly when the art is supplied in Word files. It serves as a real life show-and-tell of how the piece looks once it is trimmed, folded, perforated, or bound.

It is also the final opportunity to see if the paper is the weight or finish you want. If there is a question of what stock to use we can supply proofs on up to three papers that we stock, at no additional charge. However, we should point out, when copy or design changes are made charges are incurred.

So, you may be asking, “If paper proofs are so much better why don’t all printers use them?”  We won’t speculate on others’ motivations, but one reason is time. A PDF can be emailed immediately. A paper proof typically adds one working day to a project’s turn time, more if there are multiple rounds of changes. The extra time is due to the proof being output and sent through bindery. Then it must be viewed in person, either by the customer coming to Flexpress or a courier sending it to them, or in the case of out of town customers, sent via UPS. (It is a huge help if it is indicated on the PO how you would like to arrange your proof transportation.)

Speaking of other printers, if – perish the thought – you are having a job printed elsewhere and they do not offer paper proofs we can run a proof for you. Art should be supplied to us in PDF form and we will output it exactly as-is, with no color corrections so that you can see how your files will look on the selected stock. Please keep in mind that if you plan to have the final piece printed on an offset press using uncoated stock that the color will not be true, due to the dulling effect of ink absorption into uncoated stock associated with offset printing. There is a $50.00 minimum for this service, as well as for jobs that are cancelled after a proof is delivered. Call us for an exact quote based on your project.

We understand some jobs are simply too hot and their schedules are too tight to allow time for anything other than PDFs. But on non-blazing jobs we recommend seeing printed proofs. As we can all attest, it takes less time to do a job right the first time than to redo it later because it didn’t match expectations. Fully 80% of our jobs are proofed on paper and we think that speaks volumes about the attention to detail and quality that we share with our customers.

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