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What is a Prepress Proof and Why it’s Important

Posted by Clash Graphics on

Avoid being stuck with an order of thousands of flyers that are the wrong color or have other mis-typed information. You've put in the work to create the perfect design and layout for your marketing plan. Before the creative design you invested so much effort into goes to print, the proof is your opportunity to make any changes or corrections.

Prepress soft proofing with digital image before printing defines and explains the purpose of a prepress proof and what it means to your project.

What is a Prepress Proof?

Press time is the more expensive part of printed media. Proofing serves as a verification tool for the accuracy of the resolution, image quality, bleed, trapping (where colors overlap), and imposition of a print job before it goes to press. The following terms are used to describe proofs:

Prepress Proofing or Off-Press Proofing - An inexpensive way to provide a visual copy without the need to create a press proof.

Contract Proof - This proof serves as the agreement between a customer and a printer. Contract proofs are used as a color reference guide when making final adjustments before running the job and verifying a job’s accuracy after print. Contract proofs are typically prepress proofs.

Prepress contract proof approved for print

All printers do not offer exact color matching or contract proofs. Ask this question upfront and be aware of your print shop’s policy beforehand.

Color Proof - Similar to a contract proof, this proof is a full-color print which displays precisely how the colors of the final print will look.

Hard Copy Proofing - This high-quality one-off proof is produced using ink-jet printing or similar technologies and used as a physical representation of the desired outcome of the job. A hard copy proof may also be referred to as hard proof, proof print, and match print.

Soft Proofing - This is the most inexpensive way to accomplish proofing. A soft proof is the visual representation of a completed print job on a computer screen or monitor. This proofing method can be challenging as monitors display color through RGB and printed material through CMYK.

Soft proofs can be generated and used an unlimited amount of times for color, contrast, image, and layout adjustments. However, soft proofs are not generally used as contract proofs.

Proofs are vitally important in the prevention of unforeseen problems with images, colors, and text. Discovering and fixing layout issues before your job goes to press saves valuable time, and helps avoid the costly expense of a reprint.

Hard copy color prepress proof for approval before printing

Are Prepress Proofs Provided for Free?

When you send “print-ready” artwork or files to your printer, this typically serves as a soft proof. You may request a contract proof, and depending on the printer, there may be an additional charge. If your printer’s design team is contracted to develop the project, proofs will likely be included in those services.

The following excerpt from Clash Graphics' Disclaimer & Policies page illustrates how printers make proofs available. This page is found at and demonstrates when proofs are provided or not with their services.

“Proofs are essential to the design and printing process as they eliminate errors and dissatisfaction with the overall design. Customers who pay for Clash Graphics design services will receive proofs as part of the design process. Design changes must be submitted through email.

Customers who submit print ready files and paid for printing, WILL NOT receive a proof. If the files uploaded are in question Clash Graphics may choose to email you a proof to make sure the files are correct. It is the customer's responsibility to upload the correct files to be printed. However, if you require a proof please request one in the order comment section. In this case, the customer will be notified by email and will receive a follow-up phone call. Proofs must be approved in writing or in-person in order to be put into production. Please advise proofs can add a business day on to your turnaround.”

It is essential to understand when your printer provides proofs or not, and whether or not you may request one. Once your job has gone to print, it is the final contract proof that allows you to hold your printer accountable for accuracy and quality.

Prepress image color and text hard copy proof

Prepress Proofing and Your Print Job

Avoid being stuck with a botched print job. After investing the time and effort to create your marketing strategy and take it to print, you can achieve an accurate product by agreeing to a contract proof with your printer.

In this article, you discovered the different types and purposes of proofs and what they mean to your project.

Choosing to run a print job without first agreeing on a prepress or contract proof, you may find yourself with little to no recourse if that job ends up below your expectations.


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing

2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 AtlantaGA 30309
(678) 235-3464