• Proofing papers

    When a client issues a printing job, the expectation is usually that the printer will reproduce the images and colours exactly as they are in the job specifications. This is usually the case in production of items such as brochures, business cards, magazines and newspapers, which are often printed in full colour and may have complex graphics and colour combinations.

    Should the printer fail to meet the specifications as issued by the client, the client has the right to reject the job. This might result in loss of time, materials, clients and money to the printer. To avoid such losses, printers usually make a quick printout of the job on special kinds of paper known as proofing papers for client approval. The client goes through the printout to ascertain that every detail is in accordance with the stated requirements before signing on the printing agreement. Once this is done, the approved printout is referred to as contract proofing paper. It is only after this that the job can be taken for colour separation during pre-press, and eventually forwarded for full printing.

    Proofing papers differ in a number of respects from the ordinary papers used in photocopying, desk top printing, industrial printing as well as photo printing papers. A major aspect of this special kind of paper is the fact that the material is specifically designed for quick drying of ink. This makes the paper suitable for quick printouts to simulate how the end print job will appear with all the complex colour combinations as they appear in the original artwork. A second aspect is that the paper usually simulates the kind of light reflection as might be found in the kind of paper that the client chooses for the final print job.

    This being the case, different kinds of proofing papers have varying degrees of shine. Matte papers absorb more light and thus have a lesser degree of light reflection compared to Satin proofing papers. On the more shinny end is Semi matte paper, while Glossy reflects most light, thus appearing the shiniest among all proofing papers.

    The two major distinguishing factors between proofing papers and photo printing papers are shelf life and price. While proofing papers are meant to serve the temporary purpose of illustrating the end product, photo printing paper is meant for images that are intended to last for long. For this reason, proofing papers are made with short shelf life in mind before the paper quality begins deteriorating. This kind of papers may easily get spoilt if left exposed to excessive moisture or direct sunlight, and might necessitate lamination if the printout is intended for much longer use. Photo printing papers, on the other hand, have better resistance to moisture and light, have a shinier surface and do not require lamination. This explains the price difference between the two, with proofing paper being cheaper than photo printing paper.

    Depending on the intended use, proofing papers come in various specifications. Papers for industrial use come in 100 foot rolls. Depending on the machine in which they are to be used, they may vary in width. The most common dimensions are 13", 17", 24", 36" as well as 44". The last two are common in web printing for newspapers and magazines, while the rest are common in medium size enterprises. While majority of the papers find their way in industrial printing where large volumes of work are turned out in a day, paper manufacturers have woken up to the realisation that the desk top market is fast growing in significance. This is more so given that the papers have wide application in graphic design studios, among users of Computer Aided Design (CAD), web designers, advertising agencies as well as among professional photographers.

    Proofing papers intended for reproduction of high quality digital works either on laser or inkjet printers mostly measure 13" x 19", and may come in reams of 50 to 100 leaves.