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PDF Proofing Comes of Age

(June 2007) posted on Thu Jun 07, 2007

The cost and scheduling benefits of adding PDF proofs to your production workflow.

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By Stephen Beals

PDF has certainly made tremendous inroads in all types of print production in the last few years, and it’s now beginning to make a serious impact on the proofing process. Is PDF a valid method of sending out proofs? If so, when and how should they be used, what are the limitations, and could a PDF file be legitimately considered as a "contract proof?" The answers to these questions will have a profound effect on print providers in the next couple of years.

Here’s a hint: The short answer to all of the above questions is "yes," but it is a qualified yes. There are still some issues that need to be resolved before PDF proofs will replace hard-copy proofs for a majority of output applications.

Figuring the total costs and savings
While there are lots of good reasons for considering PDF proofing, most of the considerations come down to the bottom line. The truth is, every time you can use a PDF as a contract proof instead of a physical proof, you will save time and money.

The cost of physical proofs has certainly already gone down thanks to a solid base of inkjet proofing hardware and software and the growing use of sound color management. Inkjet proofs are increasingly well accepted among print providers and their clients.

Even if inkjet proofs are significantly less costly than the old Chromalins and color keys used by commercial printers, however, they still aren’t free by any means. Yes, for print providers-particularly those utilizing wide-format machines-inkjet proofs are essentially "press-proofs" if they are output on the same device that will ultimately render the actual job. You certainly can’t beat that scenario for dependability. The question becomes, can a PDF proof achieve the same level of reliability without the cost associated with print output?