What is a Print Proof? And 5 Other FAQs About Professional Printing

A print proof (sometimes called a repress) is a prototype to provide an accurate representation of how your design will look when professionally printed. With monitors not always telling the full story, you want to be confident that what you’re seeing on the screen is what you’re going to achieve.

Proofs are the closest you’re going to get before you see the printed material in all its glory. They’re pretty essential for the overall success of your print campaign, so we’ve answered any other questions you might have about print proofing. 

  1. When Do I Need a Print Proof?
  2. What Print Proof Do I Need?
  3. What’s the Difference Between Soft and Hard Proofs?
  4. What's a Press Pass? 
  5. Are Print Proofs Free?


1. When Do I Need a Print Proof?

print proof can save you money from an expensive reprint

Proofs are created to ensure both you and your print provider are aligned on the desired outcome before going to press. It’s something we’d advise checking off before you approve and send to print.

Proofing is vital when printing high volumes of leaflets, brochures, magazines or items for a direct mail campaign. You might find your crop wasn’t enough or a Pantone colour isn’t translating as intended.

A print proof can be the difference between a straightforward print job and an expensive rerun. Its primary role is to prevent (and avoid) unforeseen problems with text, images, colours and spacing before going to print. 

Identifying and correcting print quality problems before going to press not only saves valuable time, it also helps avoid the expense associated with a reprint. It’s a no brainer really. 

2. What Print Proof Do I Need?

print proof of luxury brochure from b&b press

If you simply need to check how content and layout will look, low resolution proofs on an inkjet printer are adequate . They’re useful for giving you an overall impression but aren’t true representations of the finished print colour.

This is where digitally printed proofs come in. When you need greater accuracy of colour, graphics and images, a high-resolution digital proof provides 90% accuracy. Is your design as effective as you thought?

Additionally, wet proofs are when your design is printed on the exact material specified for the end result. Whether it’s printed on luxurious, high GSM card or FSC-certified uncoated paper - this is the closest you’ll get to the real thing. Although they’re more expensive, it saves you a bigger expense down the road when you print.

3. What’s the Difference Between Soft and Hard Proofs?

a soft print like a pdf

A soft proof or screen proof is an electronic file, usually a PDF, that’s created for display on a computer monitor. They simulate the appearance of the finished printed piece. A report is generated which draws attention to any errors that need to be fixed, your printer will most likely communicate this to you. 

Soft proofs are popular because they can be emailed to you for approval, which greatly speeds up the proofing process. They're very economical and are commonly used for simple and straightforward jobs like flyers or postcards. 

A hard proof is a physical sample and is generally used for print projects that are a little more complicated. For example, a hard proof might be created for a business brochure to ensure the pages, margins and general construction are what you had envisioned. 

A hard proof is also usually provided for projects that have unique folds, embossed areas or any other printing techniques that may need special review prior to production.

4. What's a Press Pass?

print press for social media

This is when we are actually printing the job, the customer typically comes in and checks the machine running and that they’re happy with a couple of sections or a sheet. Sometimes minor tweaks to colour balance is achievable but more often than not they’ll pass and approve. 

Sometimes customers just like the novelty of seeing the job on press and use it for social media use to build anticipation with their audience. 


5. Are Print Proofs Free?

print proofs from your printing partner

It will depend on the printer, but in most cases, a soft proof will be provided at no additional cost. A hard proof may be provided at a charge if it includes extensive detail or complexity, but a conversation with your printer can give you a better understanding of your options. 

It all depends on the degree of accuracy of your project entails. Your print partner will explain any costs associated with each proofing method and let you choose the one that works for you. 

Proofing is just one part of the printing process that you need to be ready for. We run through every step in our guide below.

Everything You Need to Know About Professional Printing for Your Business

A print proof is just one of the ways you can ensure your printed materials are going to blow your competitors out the water and impress your consumers. There’s so much more to learn and explore, with printing materials more prominent than ever. That's why we created our ‘How to Produce Brilliant Printing Guide.’

It highlights the professional printing process and its importance, along with printing techniques you can utilise for your print campaigns. Learn about how print can be effective for your business in today’s digital world by downloading the guide below.

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Modern technology has made these kinds of items increasingly cheaper to produce and more visually appealing. They’re a great way of lowering your business’ environmental impact - but how exactly do you produce the best kind of print using these methods?

Our checklist will give you the best advice for creating an impactful sustainable print solution.