When designing something that is intended to be printed, a proof is a final look at how your image or design will appear before the volume printing of the print job begins. This helps to see if any last minute adjustments should be made, as well as if the overall layout and dimensions are satisfactory. The factors to be considered when selecting which proofing method to use are: cost, repeatability, and accuracy.
There are several types of proofs which comprise of:
- Electronic/PDF proofs: One of the easiest and most common proofs used, they provide an accurate representation of the document's size and appearance. However, a monitor's calibration will affect the quality of the image which doesn't always result in accurate color representation.
- Digital proofs: This proofing method consists of having your artwork in a digital file printed using a highly accurate inkjet or color laser to give a close approximation of the final product. This method is less costly as it doesn't use film.
- Blueline/Dylux proofs: These proofs are printed on a light-sensitive paper that only reproduces in blue. This means that different colors will appear in different shades of blue. This type of proof isn't recommended for artwork where color is important.
- Laminate/Matchprint proofs: While on the more costly side of proofs, this kind of proofing give an accurate color representation. If color matching is crucial, this type of proof is recommended.
- Press proofs: The most expensive type of proofing, this method involves printing artwork exactly as one would for the final press run. It ensures maximum accuracy and enables the possibility of seeing how the final product and printed color is affected by trimming, folding, etc.