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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

Of course, the cost of the proof itself is not the only consideration. Even more important in this day of quick-turnaround is the time that can be saved with PDF proofs. And I’m not just talking about the time needed to generate the proof. More significant is the time (and cost) of moving that physical piece of paper from place to place during the approval cycle. Even with next-day courier service available to just about anywhere, the two days it can take to get the proof back can be more than the schedule can tolerate.

In fact, when figuring the total cost of proofing, the time and material costs for creating the physical proof may be the smallest portion of the total cost: The labor of packaging the proof, the cost of shipping, and the delay in production can be significantly greater costs. With the tight scheduling of today’s marketplace, the most costly factor of all may be that it’s becoming increasingly common for customers to receive their proof and call back with an okay, expecting the job to be printed without returning the proof. This puts the output provider in the position of hoping the machine used for output has maintained calibration, since he or she now has no reference to verify all of the print settings. No proofing error could be more costly than a job that is rejected because an accurate proof was not available during the production run.

And while cost is certainly the biggest factor in favor of PDF proofing, there are other advantages-some that might not be as clear at the outset. These advantages center on the revision cycle. While one of the several disadvantages of PDF files, as I’ll discuss later, is that they are relatively difficult to edit, it is also true that the more revision cycles any given job goes through, the greater the advantage to using PDF proofs.