A general term for a variety of options for seeing what your file will look like when printed is a proof. Think of it as evidence (proof) that what you put into your digital file will all come out on the printed page exactly as you intend: the right fonts, graphics, colors, margins, and overall positioning.
- Printing proofs are used for checking that all text and graphics and colors come out as expected before going to press. It is a good practice to print a proof from your desktop printer and send along with your digital files to your service bureau or commercial printer. They can be black and white or in color but a good PostScript laser proof is ideal. If the file won't print properly to a desktop printer, chances are it won't come out on the printer press correctly either.
- A prepress proof uses ink jets, dyes, overlays or other methods to simulate the final printed piece.
- A press proof uses the printing plates and inks specified for the job.
Proofing your work comes at various stages but there are specific types of proofs created during prepress and printing that allow the designer to see if their piece will come out as intended in the final printing. Different types of printing proofs are more accurate than others but with increased accuracy comes increased costs.