Handy Proofing Checklist

You are ultimately responsible for proofing and approving your artwork. Our proof allows you to confirm everything possible before approving the job for print. It’s better to take your time than to rush and miss something important.

So what’s the best way to use your proof once you receive it?

Proofs are easy to check. They’re emailed to you as a PDF, so you can easily view them on the screen or print out a hard copy (sometimes to scale, rather than at full size).

Our best proofing advice is about WHO looks at the proof.

There are two options here. First, have a second person proof the document (different to the person who created the draft). This allows “fresh eyes” to read the content, which makes it easier to spot some more obvious errors that the author could inadvertently overlook — especially as you know what is supposed to be there and your mind skips over an error.

If we have created your artwork for you, that’s great — you are the second person in this scenario and it should make your proofing easier.

If you’re not the second person, and someone else isn’t available, try to WAIT overnight before proofing your artwork. That waiting time can give you that ability to use “fresh eyes” yourself, as the content is not as super-fresh in your mind. You can see what’s there, not just what you think might be there.

Finally, with text copy, if you don’t have the luxury of another person or an extra day between your draft and proofing, often a good tip is to read your sentences and paragraphs, word-by-word, and backwards, from the end of the paragraph first, as this makes it easier to check every word more slowly, without skipping along too fast.

Neptune Printing artwork proofing graphic design royalty free image



But proofing is more than just checking the spelling.

Sometimes too, your spell cheque will not find an error, but you may not realise that you are using the wrong word in your sentence. Like “cheque” instead of “check” in the previous sentence. This example is very obvious; many others are easy to overlook.

Other parts of your proof may not just be about checking the spelling or grammar. For example, when checking a web address is correct, you can paste in a URL to your browser (copied from your PDF proof) to make sure it is correct, or call or search on the phone number to make sure they match. Don’t assume everything is right — check and make sure.

Ideally, if you have time, it’s best to address some of these issues BEFORE you begin and create your draft.

For example, get a young family member to read your copy aloud. If they stumble at any point, consider making revisions so your copy is easier to read and comprehend. Tools too like the Hemingway app help give your copy clarity and improve readability. But you really should do this at the DRAFT stage, not the proofing stage — it should be done in advance of starting your artwork process.

Artwork changes and corrections

If you spot an error during proofing, you can either write the changes (if there is room) on a printed proof, scan it and email back; or just email us with the changes before we make another proof.

Press proofs

If you require more accurate press proofs for your job, or some other kind of proofing mock-up or sample, it may be available at additional cost (and time to produce and send to you). This is rarely required these days; but if necessary, please ask.

Do changes add costs to my job?

It all depends on the change. If you decide on a different design approach, and request new artwork, then most likely this will incur additional chargeable time, unless your artwork is being provided at an agreed, fixed cost. Other smaller changes we have made do not incur extra charges. We will make the updates and give you a new proof for your checking and approval.

Do I need to sign off on my proof for approval?

While you are ultimately responsible for your artwork, we don’t require a physical signature or scan of such. Simply let us know via email that your proof is approved.

Common proofing issues to consider


Most printing is carried out using CMYK inks (“four colour process” printing), or, occasionally, using Pantone inks (“spot colour” printing using the Pantone numbering system). If you have a specific Pantone colour (eg from an identity guide that forms part of your branding) then we can use that as required. This needs to be advised early in the process as our printing costs are based on CMYK printing, unless specified. Pantone printing these days usually involves additional costs as modern printing is setup to run CMYK jobs more cost effectively than spot-colour Pantone jobs.

Keep in mind that digital proofing is only an APPROXIMATION of the printed colour. Colour accuracy is not guaranteed.

Colour theory is quite complex. For starters, if you proof on your computer monitor, the monitor is using a different colour space (RGB) than CMYK which means colours are NOT identical. The “additive” RGB colour space adds all colours (100% of Red, Green and Blue) to get WHITE, while with CMYK, you subtract all colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) to get the same WHITE colour.

Your monitor may also be calibrated differently and affect the appearance of colour. RGB monitors are also “backlit” — where as CMYK printed matter is mostly “reflective”. So you can see there can easily be variations between a proof and the printed job.

Colour is also affected by many other factors: from the substrate (stock) used in printing, to finishes like varnish and laminating, to environmental factors like humidity and exposure to sunlight. Stocks vary over time too. Even your MOOD affects your perception of colour. Same too for how surrounding colours can impact your perception; as well as the lighting in the room your are viewing the print.

What all this really means is, as mentioned at the start of this section, a digital proof only represents an approximation of the final result.

If you have very precise colour production requirements, this needs to be advised early, as it will definitely impact your printing costs. This can include colour matching, or specific instructions such as a “double hit” of particular spot colours or very tight registration requirments on a multi-colour foil print with embossing or letterpress production (as examples).

Most of the savings in modern printing come from using equipment that is generally very well calibrated to print many different jobs at once, and to save on the overall production process, but not specifically for any particular job. While fine tuning can most often be achieved, that often means printing your job on its own, and again, that adds costs and time to use such a process.


Please be aware that images on a PDF proof are often at a lower resolution than the actual finished print. This is part of the proofing process. Often our tip is to zoom in to 300% or 400% on the PDF to see a more realistic view of the print quality.

When supplying us with your images; the higher the quality the better. If they’re from your smartphone, you’ll want to ensure you send through the highest quality version. Often smartphone apps will send a lower-quality email version to save time and bandwidth; this is often not suitable for print purposes. Make sure you send the best quality version for us to use in your artwork. We can of course make adjustments (within reason) to improve the image quality or brightness, drop out some elements or backgrounds etc.

Ensure you have copyright permission to use the images you have supplied. For example, the graphic design image above is a royalty free image (no, that’s not Dean in the photo, nor is it Dean’s computer or tablet!). This image is sourced from freepik.com, and used under a Premium Freepik License — which means we can use the image here, as it is covered by their rules: for commercial and personal projects; on any digital or printed media; for an unlimited number of times, continuously; from anywhere in the world; and with modifications or to create derivative works.

Be sure you have permission to use your image for your intended purpose if you purchase it from a provider like Freepik, Shutterstock, iStock and many others. There are also online resources that provide free content for commercial use (with and without attribution, like Freepik does with its Standard License) and are easy to find via a search.


As we will undertake the printing, generally we look after any artwork specifications such as bleed and crop mark requirements, safe margins and imposition issues. If there is anything we need from you, we will ask.

Artwork Proofing Checklist

Here’s a handy checklist we suggest you use to help check and confirm your artwork proof:

  • Check the overall page layout, colours and design against the brief or draft material you supplied us, with extra emphasis on the following aspects:
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar: especially words that spell check won't catch, such as were/where, too/to etc.
  • Spelling of specialist words such as brand names, team member names, place names or industry jargon and terminology
  • Duplicate words that are are next to each other in a sentence
  • Check images match to any caption or reference within the text (is that the right person / place etc)
  • Capitalisation of Proper Names and Places
  • Check contact details such as phone numbers, email addresses, social media usernames, web addresses
  • Check street and postal addresses
  • Check any stock codes or product codes, pricing, names etc
  • Logo usage -- check if your logo is used correctly if you have corporate branding rules or guidelines etc (if you do, let us know in advance so we can follow them)
  • Check the number of pages, or page size, is correct
  • Check we have any relevant finishing requirements such as folding, binding, hole punching, laminating or spot UV, varnishing, foiling, embossing, special rounded corners or any other specific finishing
  • Check we have instructions for any finishing services required, such as bundling for a mailing hose or postal service or a maximum box weight
  • Check also we have the correct details for the print quantity, delivery addresses and contacts, an Authority to Leave if no-one is present, an agreed delivery method or service (including services that assist with pallet-sized deliveries)
  • Subject to our shipping notes, check we have any agreed dates for delivery or turnaround times for your job, subject to confirmation (and couriers delivery time frames)
  • Copyright and legal compliance -- remember, you are responsible for any and all relevant legal, regulatory, industry or statutory compliance of all statements, claims and content in your job. You are also responsible for the correct copyright permission of any artwork, fonts, text content or images used throughout your job as well as permission to any and all third party logos, content or trademarked or copyright materials.

While we take care and will correct any obvious errors we notice, proofing and approval of your artwork is ultimately your responsibility. Proofing is approved before your job proceeds for print production.

Finally, has someone else read over the proof and also completed this checklist? Ideally make sure both you and a colleague approve your artwork proof before proceeding with approval to print.