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Help in Understanding How To Proof Printed Color Material

The Rickie Report receives numerous emails and phone calls from readers asking a variety of questions. We’ve invited Caren Hackman, author of “Graphic Design Exposed”, to be a guest columnist to answer some of them.  Today’s topic is how to proof  a color flyer.


How Do I Proof a Color Flyer?

Q: I designed a great color flyer. The printer told me that I could “soft proof” the flyer. She sent me a PDF. It looked great. When I received the flyer the colors looked different. Why is that? How can I prevent this from happening?



A: Your computer display uses a different color system than printed media. The backlit computer display on which you were reviewing the proof shows additive color or RGB. When the red, green and blue light comes together at full strength we see white. The printing ink system uses subtractive color or CMYK. With subtractive color we see the color that is reflected back to us off of the printed surface.



You cannot prevent the color shift from happening, however, you can prepare for it. Pantone offers a great set of guide books. If you can’t afford them, visit the print shop and view theirs.



Another cause of color shift is that lower cost print jobs are grouped, or gang printed. To lower printing costs for their customers, printers use the practice of grouping your job onto a large sheet with several other jobs. To insure that all jobs stay within an acceptable color range the press operator may need to make some minor adjustments.


I use this printing method to help save clients money. Knowing in advance how the job will be run helps me prepare the press ready files for the greatest degree of success.


You need to remember that every computer display shows color differently. 


Please send your questions, no more than 250 words to:




Caren Hackman is a graphic designer and fine artist living in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. and author of  a book about Graphic Design and Good Business practice.  Be sure to check out Caren’s wonderful artwork –  Caren is a talented artist in her own right!  She is a founding member of the Artists of Palm Beach County.


For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact The Rickie Report at:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

The Rickie Report

P.O.Box 33423

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420



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