I don’t do a ton of print design anymore, but one thing I’ve noticed is that often clients have a misunderstanding of what “proofs” are for, or how the workflow should work.
The short: When files are sent to print, the time for changes is over. The overall purpose of printed proofs is to catch printing errors.
The purpose of a “proof” is to spot issues like low resolution images or other potential printing errors. Catching typos at this stage, although they really should have been spotted sooner, is acceptable. Anything else that’s flat-out wrong is usually also acceptable to change. Some examples might be:
- Wrong name cited
- Credits/disclaimer incorrect or missing
- Content being trimmed or position of folds miscalculated
What shouldn’t be open for discussion:
- Copy change (short of typos, grammatical errors…)
- Messaging – If you wrote “Buy one, Get one free!” it’s not time to change your mind and say “Buy one, Get one 50%” – all “mind changing” should occur before files are sent to print.
- Swapping photos/artwork. If the wrong image was used (eg a FPO was not replaced) or if the image show it will not print well, then those items could be swapped.
What are the drawbacks of making excessive changes to the proofs?
- It will delay the process more than if the changes were made during internal proofing (ie printing black & white samples for review.)
- The cost increases. Most printers will charge for additional proofs.
- Printers go through a fair amount of prep before those proofs are printed. They have to repeat those steps, and if they’re making changes along the way it can complicate the process, increasing the chance something gets missed.
- Printers will likely give you less leeway next time. Rather than telling you they need five business days before delivery, they may tell you they need 10. And if you deliver files eight days out, they may tell you they will not meet your delivery deadline. Whereas if you show that you did you work upfront, and that their process will be efficient, they will allow you to give them less time.
- As much as printers should have their process together, having to deal with multiple proofs can lead to mistakes. I’ve seen it happen where the wrong version of the proof gets printed.