Episode #27:

Creative Brief: 11 Things to Check in a Print Proof

Print proof checklist

Part of the Creative Briefs series of mini-episodes with quick design- and marketing-related tips, this episode is about reviewing print proofs. Here are 11 things to check in a proof from the printer to ensure your design will appear as you intended.


Some of these are on a more macro level, while others are all about the details.

  1. Specs: Check the specs of the job: quantity, colors, coating, binding, etc. If needed, the quantity can sometimes be adjusted at this point. Just note that if you increase it quite a bit and the paper was special ordered, that can cause a delay.
  2. Accuracy: Compare the printer proof to your file to make sure nothing is missing. When I review a PDF proof, I will open that and my print PDF that I sent the printer at the same magnification and just toggle back and forth in Acrobat, viewing every page.
  3. Bleeds: If you’re looking at a hard proof, check that there are no white edges where color should bleed off.
  4. Size: Check the size of the pages. Make sure that your pages that are supposed to be 7 x 10, for example, aren’t printed out at 8.5 x 11.
  5. Page order: Check that the pages are in the proper sequence. If it’s a direct mail package, check that all pieces are nested properly and fit well in the envelope. By nesting, I mean the order in which the pieces appear inside the envelope.
  6. Folds: If there’s a fold, you want to check that the fold is correct. If there is more than one fold, check that they fold in the proper order.
  7. Die cut/perfs: Check that any die cut or perforations are marked and in the proper positions.
  8. Positioning: Check that text or other important elements, such as running headers and footers, are not too close to the outer edges, where they’re in danger of being trimmed off. If it’s a larger publication, check that no text is too close to or in the gutter, making it difficult to read, and that any cross-overs line up across spreads.
  9. Fonts: Check that all fonts appear as they should, especially if you’re not sure that you embedded the fonts in your PDF or if you sent native files with fonts.
  10. Images: Check that images look crisp (although the proof may be low resolution); not too dark, especially if they will be printed on uncoated paper stock; and that the color is accurate.
  11. Content: Check boilerplate information such as contact name, address, phone, website. Ironically, this info tends to get overlooked by designers and clients. This is also a final chance for someone to proofread the entire document to make sure that no additional edits are needed.

Download the checklist

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *