Produce approved proofs for print

Business Sectors (Suites): Pre Press
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 26 Feb 2021


This standard is about producing, assessing and correcting proofs that meet the criteria for a contract proof between the company and client.

A contract proof is one that is of a high enough standard to be capable of forming the basis of the contract/approval between printer and client.

There are a number of proofing methods available to a printer and while a hard copy is frequently used, there are many printers who use an online facility such as FTP sites for clients to view and approve their jobs.

The majority of companies now apply a template to their proofs to describe or annotate specific areas. This is required by some of the Audit Accreditations. Some apply a legend to their proofs which will be very similar for each customer. Examples of this are type size, specified sizes for legalities or logos, colour separation breakdowns, specific spacing required for overprinting, paper stock and finishing options. Others have more information at their own request.

Range of proofing methods:

* *

Inkjet Proofs - Inkjet proofs are used for checking content, layout and pagination. Inkjet proofs can be made up into booklets or similar, allowing clients to check content. Colour representation will not be truly accurate.

Soft Proofs, (PDF Proofs) - Quick and reasonably cost effective, PDFs are the most popular type of proof. PDFs can be sent via email or placed on a cloud based FTP site. You will not get a physical product but allows checking of detail.

High Quality Digital Proofs - Based on the current industry standards – with the exception of wet proofs, this is the most accurate type of proofing. High quality digital proofs give you an excellent idea of how your printed product will look when formal production commences. Different output profiles can be used to simulate coated or uncoated paper stock. It is important to note that these proofs can be measured for colour accuracy.

Wet Proofs - These can either be set up to proof on the machine as a particular job or are subject to a customer pass at the start of the production run. The client will approve them for clarity and colour accuracy. Only wet proofs are printed on the actual paper that will be used for the print run.

Even the most elementary device can now be used for outputting colour prints; however, this standard requires that high quality proofs are produced that are evaluated for colour accuracy by means of measurement with suitable quality control equipment.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

Produce proofs

  1. confirm which kind of proofs are required in accordance with organisational procedures
  2. locate and retrieve files required for proofs, using organisational procedures
  3. check files are in the appropriate format for proofing, converting any that are not in accordance with organisational procedures
  4. include a suitable colour control strip for checking colour accuracy on proofs
  5. check the proofing device is calibrated, in serviceable condition and has the right paper and sufficient consumables loaded
  6. report any faults with proofing device that it is not your job to correct in accordance with organisational procedures
  7. check colour profiles are selected for proofs, including any profiles required related to proofing paper, printing machine or standard 'dot gain' curves
  8. produce proofs at the required size and resolution
  9. keep records of completed work and any problems which have occurred in accordance with organisational procedures* ***Assess proofs against specifications

10. inspect proofs to identify any physical defects including colour irregularities, font or typographical problems, image resolution, trapping and knockout of colours or size and orientation of pages or images
11. confirm, by measuring the colour control strip, that proofs are colour accurate and meet the standards used by your company and any relevant national or international standard
12. repeat proofing operations until proofs are of a standard that can be submitted to customers for consideration
13. label proofs with an identification reference and record details for quality assurance and administrative purposes as required by your company
*Modify artwork to meet specifications

14. identify amendments required to proofs in accordance with organisational procedures
15. amend, or arrange for others to amend, artwork to meet customer's requirements
16. complete amendments within agreed deadlines
17. re-proof jobs, as required, until a final proof is approved by the customer or as set out in your company's procedures
18. reference and archive approved digital files and any intermediate files, in accordance with your company's procedures
19. label approved proofs and make sure that any other unapproved proofs are archived or dealt with in accordance with your company's procedures

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. the law as it affects printing copyright and ownership of images, obscenity, forgery
  2. ethical issues relevant to printing: confidentiality
  3. the hazards and risks in your own job, their assessment and the action to take to deal with them
  4. manufacturers' and suppliers' health and safety requirements relevant to your job
  5. how to safely handle customer material
  6. computer system security and virus protection
  7. the secure methods of archiving digital and conventional artwork
  8. how to communicate with colleagues and customers
  9. workplace objectives, priorities, standards and procedures
  10. the set-up of proofing equipment and software
  11. the operation of proofing equipment and software
  12. colour theory including additive and subtractive systems such as RGB and CMYK colour gamuts
  13. the relationship between image size, file size and resolution
  14. the differences between file formats for digital images and the reasons for using them
  15. colour management and how to set up, maintain and use image profiles
  16. file conversion techniques
  17. file compression and decompression systems
  18. file management procedures
  19. the causes and treatment of common faults in proofing
  20. recording and reporting procedures
  21. product labelling
  22. the law of contract
  23. the main features of quality assurance and quality control systems
  24. techniques for controlling quality
  25. equipment for controlling quality in printing
  26. light standards for viewing and assessing colour print
  27. the types and characteristics of paper, board and other commonly used substrates
  28. the types and characteristics of inks, toners and coatings
  29. maintaining the quality of materials during storage and handling
  30. the principal types of proof and their role in the printing process including high resolution colour accurate proofs, low resolution proofs, soft proofs and wet proofs


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

31 Jan 2024





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Printers, Printing Machine Minders and Assistants, Printing Trades

SOC Code



digital, print, pre press, images, proofs, artwork, soft, inkjet