Proof reading: what is involved?

Proof reading: what is involved?

In my last article, I introduced the topic of proof reading and highlighted how including a comprehensive proof reading activity would significantly improve the quality of output from your business’s labelling and artwork operation.  In this article, I am going to talk about where you should consider performing these steps in your process, what is covered, how technology helps and finally the importance of creating the right environment for the proof reader.

Proof reading – the key steps

There are three main steps to proofreading.  The first is undertaken by the artwork operator once they have created the artwork.  The second step is what we describe as a full, comprehensive and independent proofread.  This should be undertaken by a competent and skilled proof-reader.  The third step is the functional and country reviews undertaken by the local regulatory personnel and relevant functional representatives.  A key issue here is making sure that all of these reviewers know what they should and shouldn’t be checking, and how they should check it.

There are different types of checks – it is not all about the text

The temptation with proof reading is to focus on the text but, of course, there are the graphical and technical checks to consider. In the graphical check, the proof reader is looking at the logos, branding elements and the instruction/ warning symbols and ensuring they are correct and comply with regulatory and company requirements. The proof reader will confirm the correct version of the symbols are being used with the right colours, they are applied in the right locations, across all faces and they do not compromise any folds, cuts or creases.

In the technical check, the proof reader confirms the artwork has been produced to the correct size, matching it to the cutter guide. In addition, they confirm perforations, varnish-free areas, machine-readable codes and their positions are correct.  Codes are checked with verifiers to ensure they meet the specification. Braille is checked to make sure the correct version has been used; it is in the correct position without obscuring any text.

Make sure the input text file is correct

It is obviously important to ensure that the text content is correct and this should really be undertaken when the text file is being prepared.  If there are errors in this input text file, they will be incorporated into the artwork.  To avoid this, the text file should be verified against source documents before the artwork is produced and the artwork then verified against the supplied and correct text file.

Electronic Comparison tools – reduce cycle time and are more accurate than humans

Checking artwork involves many detailed and repetitive tasks, which the human brain finds difficult even with the best-trained staff. Thankfully, the electronic tools for text and pixel-to-pixel comparison now available, can perform these tasks accurately and in a shorter time period. However, these tools can’t check everything, for example text embedded in images, so it is important that you understand what they can and can’t check and supplement with manual verification.

It is important to get the environment right

A quiet place needs to be reserved for this task, ideally a separate office, equipped with the tools required and with excellent lighting. ‘Do not disturb’ signs should be used combined with the understanding by all staff that interruptions should be minimised.

In my next article, I will look at who is involved in the reviewing steps.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities


Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

For more information on artwork, go to our free download section.