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What Is a Proof in Printing?

Updated: Feb 23

Proof in printing is a fundamental component of the printing process. At CityPress, we want to ensure that your print comes out exactly as you imagine. That is why we do print proofing. But what is a proof in printing?

Continue reading this post to learn everything you need about printing proofs.

What Is a Proof in Printing?

In the printing industry, we use the term print proof to refer to a preliminary version of a printed piece used for validation and quality assurance before the final printing.

In short, proof in printing is the replica of the final result. This proof is the final item that will be examined before the production of your order. The proof represents the final printed product. We use it to ensure printing, color accuracy, and overall quality of the printed piece.

In our industry, printing companies use different types of printing proofs, such as soft proofs and physical proofs printed on actual printing material. Proof prints aim to identify and correct errors or issues before the final commercial printing.

In the context of photography, proof prints serve a similar purpose. They are preliminary versions of photographs used for final adjustments and validation before printing.

Quality control is also vital to our work. Every printed piece must meet the highest standards regarding color accuracy, image clarity, sharpness, text legibility, and printing quality. A slight variation in color or image can largely impact the final product. So, proof print plays a crucial role in this industry.

What Is a Proof in Printing
Source: / Photo Contributor: Panumas Yanuthai

Types of Printing Proofs

Let’s delve into the most common printing proofs.

Soft proof

Now, what is soft proof in printing? A soft or screen proof is a digital representation or an electronic file, like a PDF, that we create to display on a computer monitor. The file simulates the representation of the final product.

Soft proofs are popular because we can email them to clients for approval. You can see them on a computer screen or other digital device. They represent the final printing piece and show color accuracy and image resolution.

Soft proofs provide a convenient and cost-effective way of confirming the printed piece before going into production. Yet, a soft print should not be considered a substitute for physical print, as the latter represents the best final result. Since soft proofs are very economical, we usually use them for simple projects like business cards, postcards, or flyers.

Hard proof

Hard proof is a physical sample. That is why it is also called physical proof. It involves creating a tangible, physical version of the printed piece using printing techniques and materials that look like the final commercial printing.

We produce these proofs in limited quantities and use them to check the overall printing quality. We can assess color accuracy, texture, and finishing details when we print physical proofs. Companies often use high-quality inkjet printers or digital presses to produce physical proofs that closely mimic the final result.

We usually print hard proofs for brochures and books to ensure the pages and margins are created as planned. We also recommend hard proofs for projects with varying ink shades, unique folds, die-cut sections, or anything else that might require a review before production.

What to Consider When Reviewing Print Proofs

Color is fundamental for any printed piece, and it directly affects how we interpret visual information. So, reaching correct color reproduction is very important in print production.

However, proof prints, whether in a soft or physical form, allow an assessment of color accuracy. We can thus verify with our clients whether the color meets their expectations.

Another important aspect of the proofing process is ensuring the printed piece correctly represents the original artwork or digital file. This involves ensuring the text is legible, the images and graphics are sharp, and the overall layout is consistent with the intended design. Proof prints allow checking these details and ensuring the final result meets the required standards.

Furthermore, Proof prints also serve as quality assurance since we can identify and correct any errors or issues before sending the material to production. These errors include catching typographical errors, misalignments, or anything else that affects the quality of the printed piece.

The proofing stage is also time and cost-effective. Remember that any errors detected in this phase, including grammar, images, size, pagination, color, etc., will be corrected for the final version.

What to Consider When Reviewing Print Proofs
Source: / Photo Contributor: Aleksandar Malivuk


What is a proof in printing? A proof in printing is a preliminary version of a printed piece. It is used for validation and quality assurance before the final printing.

It comes in different types, like soft and hard proofs. They are important in detecting errors and issues. Once detected, we fix these errors for the final production. So, if you need commercial printing services, you can contact us today and build your brand properly!


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