Print Technology Jargon Buster

Proofing for print

A guide to the vital role the print proofing process provides.

Proof enough: Proofing for Print

The word 'proofing' in a print production workflow context can often mean different things to different people depending on who you speak to.

Initial focus in the proofing process is usually placed on checking for spelling errors along with the job in general (e.g. to make sure that the right images are married up the right captions and so on).

Hard copy proofs

For hard copy content proofing or for layout proofs, almost any colour printer will be up to the job if you need a device to render colour in close approximation to its appearance in print.

There are a couple of options:

  1. Laser colour printers
    While colour laser printers are fast, they're not always very accurate with colour.
  2. Inkjet printers
    While high-end inkjet printers are a considerably slower, they are capable of producing very high image quality and colour accuracy as long as they're driven by a dedicated proofing RIP (Raster Image Processor).

The RIP is crucial to accurate hard copy proofing as many inkjet printers donít actually have a RIP and rely instead, on a basic printer driver that's unlikely to be accurate enough for professional applications. Such a device may be good enough for office applications or content proofing, but it'll never do justice to accurate colour proofing.

For high-end colour proofing, the demands on the proofing system increase quite dramatically. For example, you may want the proofs to be on the exact same paper stock as the final print. The majority of contract proofs are created using high-end inkjet based proofing technologies using well-tested screening angles and screen types. With these types of systems, moiré is rarely a big problem these days.

Proof analysis

When analysing a print proof there are a number of key areas that need to be considered including, image sharpness, fine detail, misregistration, tone reproduction and banding.

Colour accuracy and contrast is vital in a proof and, with screen accurate proofs, itís possible to check that there is no visible moiré. If the proofing system doesnít use the same paper stock as that used in the proofing run, it's worth checking that the proofing substrate has a similar whitetone and structure as the final print. This is because the paper stock used is the most important factor for how colour appears in print. Paper surface chemistry, optical characteristics, smoothness and grain all influence how light behaves when it reaches the paper surface.

Help when you need it

The proofing process is a vital part of any print job as it serves to eliminate any possible errors or inaccuracies from the outcome of the print run - particularly when the print run is high value.

At Fineprint, we're always happy to talk to our customers and offer help and advice regarding proofing in a friendly, 'plain english' way. Just contact us now or telephone us on 01256 814 144 for a chat.