Reviewing and approving a hard proof before your full order hits the printing presses is a best practice when it comes to ensuring proper execution for your important print projects.

But what good is a proof if you don’t review it properly? Initial oversights and small mistakes during large-scale printing projects can lead to both money and time being wasted, not to mention damage to your brand image. Here are some things you should always remember when it comes to reviewing a print proof.

Review Content and Design Separately

It’s easy to miss something when you’re trying to do too many things at once. That’s why it’s helpful to review proofs multiple times with each time focusing on a different objective. For the first round, focus on the artwork. Does the formatting look correct? Are the colors looking the way you thought they would? Once you’ve made these notes, you can move onto other things, such as the content. Are there any typos? Is the URL for the landing page correct? Compartmentalizing the review process will help make it more effective.

Give Yourself Enough Time

You should always make it a point to give your team plenty of time to review a print proof, because rushing through is how mistakes are missed. Yes, sometimes tight turnaround times are unavoidable, but in those cases, multiple people should be asked to review the proof, so that the chance that something is missed becomes less.

Having enough time to review a proof is especially important if the item you’re reviewing is extensive. For example, if you have to review a 70-page catalogue, it might make sense to break it into chunks and review it over the course of a day or so, so the review process is more manageable.

Take Good Change Notes—and Don’t Be Afraid to Request a Second Proof!

In order to get the finished product you want, it’s important to be as clear and descriptive as possible when it comes to communicating changes. Part of this comes from taking good notes; don’t be afraid to bust out the red pen and draw directly on the proof! Once you’ve sent over any changes and discussed what should be accounted for in the next version, go ahead and request another proof. No matter how many rounds it takes, it’s important that you’ve held at least one copy of what will ultimately be the final version before it gets pushed to production.

Get a Fresh Pair of Eyes to Review

The best person to review a proof is someone who has not been involved in any part of the project. This is because they will have no expectations when it comes time to review the proof; they will only be reporting on exactly what is in front of them. Plus, having someone who has not been exposed to past versions of the project helps ensure that their eyes are not glossing over important details they have already reviewed at some point.

Add Padding for Special Projects

If your project is particularly intricate in the way it is packaged, folded, or constructed, the importance of proofing extends beyond copy and content. It’s important to first create a mechanical mockup to make sure your concept works, work closely with your printing and production team to ensure your vision is understood, and then review closely the final proof for any errors. Be sure to add extra time in your project timeline to see that these special features get all of the attention they need. 

Other Considerations

One important thing to keep in mind is that the print proof is meant to give you the opportunity to make sure your design and content are represented properly on the printing press. You should absolutely catch and fix errors if you find them, but should avoid making any changes that are not critical because doing so will cause delays and potential change fees.

Have questions about requesting or reviewing you proof? The team at Digital Dog Direct is here to assist you. Contact your Account Executive or reach out to us here.