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Proofing Horror Stories – and how to banish your fears
October 30, 2018

Do you know what is truly terrifying? A not-so-friendly clown waving cheerily from the recesses of a storm drain. Shudder…but moving on! Thinking outside of our favorite horror movies, what is also bone-chilling? Seeing the scary results of a printed product gone bad. With so much time and effort that goes into the design, seeing the horrific errors that make it to print may be enough to haunt your dreams.

What is a proof?

What exactly are we talking about? Sometimes, those beautiful printed products don’t come out as expected. These nightmare-causing errors can easily be identified on a proof. What is a proof, exactly?

A proof is a digital or printed representation of what your final printed product will look like. It’s all too common for the proofing process to get skipped when time is of the essence or budgets are tight. But when errors become apparent on the final printed product, clients face an expensive and even more time-consuming fix, which generally comes in the form of a reprint. Truly scary!

5 Proofing Horror Stories

Who doesn’t love a good horror story at Halloween time? We have some for you. Take a look at our proofing horror stories to avoid your own print nightmare!

  1. You have typos and blatant spelling errors: Nothing comes off as more unprofessional than misspellings. Customers are drawn to companies they feel they can trust. Typos have that pesky way of coming off like you haven’t devoted time to developing your products. And if you make errors on your own products, customers may wonder what will keep you from making errors when it comes to serving them.

Timesaving Tip: Have someone who wasn’t involved in the writing of the product review the proof. This second set of eyes is more likely to catch errors.


  1. Your brand colors are completely wrong: Any worthy marketer will tell you that accuracy in brand colors is supremely important. Colors and logo make your brand recognizable. If your colors are off, customers begin to wonder if they are interacting with the right brand. Don’t give your customer a reason to go elsewhere.

Timesaving Tip: Take the time to clarify your exact brand colors. Not sure where to start? This article explains the difference between RGB, CMYK, and PMS colors. Most digital printers utilize CMYK colors in offset printing and PMS colors for promotional products. Knowing your exact colors helps to ensure the printed product is consistent with your brand.


  1. The imprint size is much smaller than expected: The imprint size refers to the printable area on a product. This is particularly important for specific audiences. You likely have a great idea and can see the magic that will happen when your logo is printed on a pen or coffee mug, but if the imprint size is super small, your logo or details may appear unrecognizable.

Timesaving Tip: Consider your print medium carefully. Review samples you like from others before making your decision. Make sure you have adequate space for what you are printing.


  1. Skipping the physical proof on a large print order: When pinched for time or working with budgetary constraints, it may seem logical to forego the physical proof. Don’t do it! While it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to reprint 100 brochures, your small issue suddenly becomes a massive problem if you are faced with reprinting 100,000 brochures. Most physical proofs are free or completely worth the cost when it’s a large order.

Timesaving Tip: Get the physical proof!


  1. Your design doesn’t end up on the print file: We’ve seen errant artwork and logos end up in print files. The wonderful people who manage your print files are, at the end of the day, humans who are capable of mistakes. It’s not unheard of for those same wonderful people to hit a random key by accident, or add/delete a photo during the pre-press process.

Timesaving Tip: Pass the proof around to a few team members, including the original designer, to ensure you are getting what you intended.


Worried you might be a victim of a proofing horror? Never fear! Our experienced team at Tactive is ready to help you proof your next print or promo order. Contact us to get started!