Copy and Artwork Proofing Printing Knowledge
Copy and Artwork Proofing

Proofing your direct mail project at all stages of its development is very important in trying to eliminate errors. Proofing of a project can be performed by the person working on the project, proofreaders, senior account executives and the client. Generally, more than one person should proof the project. If something is missed, it will more than likely be caught by the next person doing the proofing. It is a good idea to have a checklist of items and specifications that need to be proofed. Have the checklist signed by whoever is proofing the project at that stage. There are several stages at which it is important to get the project proofed and approved. Proofing should be accomplished during copy and artwork development in the stages discussed below.

Creative Plan

Once the creative plan has been established, it is critical that it be approved by the client.

  • Be sure the client understands what type of creative tactics you are planning to use.
  • Have the client review the creative design ideas that you have.
  • Get clients approval before any actual work or copy writing has been started.


If copy is not provided by the client, you will have to create the copy for the project. After the copy is created, it should be proofed for accuracy.

  • Spelling and grammar should be checked.
  • Content should be check to see if it makes sense and whether or not it is accurate.
  • Is the offer understandable?
  • Is it clear as to how you are to respond to the offer?
  • Are descriptions, product numbers, prices and expiration dates correct?
  • Are quoted statements accurate?
  • Are names, addresses, Zip codes and phone numbers correct?
  • Is the permit number in the indicia correct?
  • Have trademarks and register marks been included where necessary?
  • Get client approval of the copy before it is placed into the artwork.

Double check accuracy with the information provided by the client about the product or service. To check whether or not the copy is understandable, have someone that is not familiar with the project read through all of the copy to see how clear it is to them.


The artwork should not only be checked for accuracy of the copy, but the photos and illustrations should also be check.

  • Are the photos, illustrations and copy in the correct locations?
  • Are colors separated correctly?
  • Trim marks, perforation marks and fold marks should be indicated.
  • Photocopy the artwork and then fold and trim as indicated. Check to see that copy is placed in the right location on all pieces.
  • Be sure all postal information is place within USPS guidelines.
  • Check address imprint areas to see that they are in the correct location.
  • If using a window envelope, will the address show through the window properly?
  • Client must proof the artwork and give final approval before production can start.

It is a good idea to send a proof to the USPS to get their approval on any piece that contains postal information.

Material Proofing

A blank mock-up of all the pieces in the direct mail package should be made using the actual material for each piece. The mock-up can be used for several purposes.

  • Use mock-up to estimate postage costs.
  • To check if the package meets mail classification maximum weight requirements.
  • To see if all the pieces fit together as planned.
  • Send mock-up to the lettershop and mail house to verify that all the folding, inserting, sealing and other processing can be handled by the processing equipment.

If the package exceeds mail classification weight requirements, parts of the package may have to be revised. A letter may have to be less pages or an insert may be eliminated from the package. This type of revision may also end up affecting the design of other pieces in the package. It is important that the mock-up test be completed in an early stage of the project.

It is critical that proofing be completed at all stages of the direct mail project. The earlier an error can be detected, the less it will cost to correct. Detecting a copy error when proofing the artwork will cost a lot less than detecting it on the press proof. Getting approval from the client, through all stages of the project, will help assure that the project is being produced to their expectations.


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