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Proofs and Proofing

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Proofing tips and guidelines

The most common and most frustrating problems I see with CD projects are typographic errors and omissions by the artist. Please use this proofing checklist to try to avoid as many errors as possible, ideally before even submitting your text to the designer. Some of these things may seem obvious, but when you get to the design stage and you’re tired from long hours in the studio, or late for an appointment, it’s easy to miss things.

  • Print out a copy – don’t proof only from the computer screen. Proof from both – you’ll see things on the screen that you won’t notice on paper and vise versa.
  • Get someone else not directly involved in your project to proofread. Many errors are missed because you already know what it’s supposed to say and you actually read missing words and typos correctly. There is a rule of thumb in the business – don’t proofread your own work.
  • Have several people proof. Ideally, only a single printout should be marked so that all changes are made on the same proof and all your proofers can see what the other proofers have caught.
  • Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be distracted.
  • Slow down.
  • Mark corrections with a red pen.

Proof Reading Techniques

  • Scan for specific problems, such as mixing up the spelling of there, their and they’re.
    Read through in different page/section orders – start from the back, for example, or read from the bottom up.
  • Use a closed pen to point to each word as you read it.
  • Cover all of the paper except the sentence you are proofreading, and read one sentence at a time.
  • Read out loud.
  • Don’t take anything for granted.
  • Don’t rely on your spell checker.
  • Don’t assume anything.
  • Do not expect your designer to be your editor. You are ultimately responsible for making sure everything is right.

Proofing checklist

  • Spelling and punctuation
  • Grammar
  • Dates
  • Names are spelled correctly
  • Fonts
  • Fonts and color are consistent
  • Text is legible
  • Pay extra attention to special symbols.
  • Images are correctly cropped and placed
  • Song titles correctly spelled, punctuated and capitalized.
  • Song titles are consistent in the different places they are listed
  • Song order and times are correct for master supplied.
  • Song order for lyric section matches song order for master and traycard.
  • Spine info is correct and the same as on disc and cover.
  • Barcode number is correct (if applicable).
  • No missing elements.
  • Look for extra spaces and double punctuation in text.
  • No text is missing because of text shifting on page (look at the end of each text section)
  • Contact address, phone, email, web address
  • All facts are correct.
  • Pages or panels in the correct order
  • The mock up is correct regarding folds and panel placement.
  • Last minute changes were made correctly.

PROOF: A general term something used to see what your file will look like when printed. There are many different types of proofs. The most common proofing method these days is a Soft Proof. This is usually a PDF sent via email or downloaded. It is the most economical and expedient, but it does have limitations that you need to be aware of.

Important: Final output can vary DRAMATICALLY from what you see on your monitor. Because your files are printed in CMYK, not RGB, which is what the monitor displays and your ink jet printer normally prints, you cannot rely on your screen or printer to proof colors. They’ll be CLOSE. In addition, each monitor is calibrated differently and therefore the same PDF will look different on yours and the person sitting next to you. Even the angle at which you view your monitor and the lighting in the room can effect how colors look on screen.

Printing it on your home printer is helpful and should always be done, but also problematic. Every printer is calibrated differently, and will produce different results. Even how much ink you have left or what grade paper you print it on can affect certain colors.

So, if color reproduction accuracy is super important, be sure to mention this to your designer – you may need to request a HARD PROOF from a calibrated proofing printer.

Note: PDF proofs are also usually low resolution to keep files small enough to email, so the images may appear a little blurry. You should always look at a high resolution file for at least your final proof. This will be a larger file, but more accurate.

Every time you get a proof

Check that all requested changes were made.

Keep a copy of changes so you can refer to it against the proof.

Do not send replacement files for text already placed and formatted by your designer – you will incur extra charges to re-place/re-format. Only individual changes and additions that refer to these proofs should be sent (unless you need drastic changes). Send all changes together in one email once everyone involved has reviewed the proofs. Do not allow more than one person to send changes to your designer.

When you get subsequent proofs, besides checking that all requested changes were made, check to be sure that nothing else was altered. Sometimes text shifts when words are added or deleted, so check to make sure copy hasn’t rewrapped or dropped off or accidentally changed when other things are changed or added. Look one more time for spelling. Look at EVERY proof as if IT IS your first proof.

Once you are satisfied with your final proof, you will be asked to approve it in writing. Usually you can just reply “Approved” on the email that had the PDF proof. If you are approving a hard proof, you will be asked to sign and return it.

Remember, when you approve your final proof, you indicate that everything on the proof is correct. If a problem is discovered later, you will definitely incur additional costs to fix it and may even entail scrapping a print run.

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