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Press Proofs: A Primer

Press Proofs; LoopPublishers have three basic options for proofing their publications before going to press; soft proofs, hard proofs, or “color approval” hard proofs.

Soft proofs (often called PDF proofs) are pages that are transferred electronically. The advantages of soft proofs are (1) no added costs (2) multiple people can view the proofs at the same time, and (3) they reduce time delays caused by sending hard proofs back and forth. Soft proofs are low resolution and not intended for color approval. Therefore, they are used for “content only” viewing.

Hard proofs, (often called “blue lines”), are printed copies of the digital files that were used to create a soft proof. The advantage of a hard proof is that it is a full size physical copy. The disadvantages of hard proofs are (1) they add a minimum of two days to the production schedule because they must be mailed from the printer to the publisher, and back again, unless duplicate sets are produced for an additional cost, (2) only one person can view them at a time, and (3) added cost. Like soft proofs, standard hard proofs are low resolution and for “content only” viewing.

“Color approval” hard proofs (often referred to as “high res color proofs” or “contract/color proofs” or by the name of the system that generates them, including Epson Proofs or Isoproofs) are high resolution color proofs typically used for color matching (although pages are printed on proofing paper and not the publisher’s chosen paper, so reproduction will not be exact). Often publishers use “high res color” or “contract/color” proofs to proof a sensitive ad, the front and back covers of a publication, or when working with a new printer. These proofs increase production days and add cost, which can run $15 a page and higher.

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