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Label proofs explained

When ordering your labels, particularly for new label orders, there can be some apprehension about how the final printed labels will come out. Complex label designs with multiple special finishes or embellishments may be difficult to visualize. Trying to imagine how a label design you may have only seen on your computer screen will actually look when printed can be especially challenging when:

To help bridge the gap between concept & design and your final printed labels, Resource Label Group provides two types of label “proofs”: art proofs and press proofs.

Art proofs for labels

Art proofs are simply separate PDF pages explaining how your label design is broken apart and engineered for printing. For each element of your label design that requires a specific step in the printing process, there will be an Art Proof page. If your job is simply a four-color process label, your art proof will be a single page.

Each art proof will include an image of your label art with its dieline (where the labels are cut), and the technical specifications such as size, colors, label material, corner radius, rewind direction, varnishes, special finishes, and so on.

For label designs that include additional finishing options, such as a spot varnish, your art proof will be multiple pages. For example, if we were to include a spot gloss varnish on the dog shown in the image above, we provide an additional page with your art proof that shows precisely where that varnish is applied.

We email art proofs to you as PDF files for every new label order we produce, free of charge. Your art proof also functions as an approval form. Once you’ve signed off on the art proof and sent it back to us we will print your labels. When you have approved your new label art proof it will be used for any repeat orders and you will not need to sign off the artwork again.

If you have special embellishments on your label that require tooling to be ordered, such as embossing or foil, we will need to have your approval on those art proofs prior to being able to add your job to our print schedule. This is also the case if your label has a special shape that is anything other than a rectangle or circle, and you will receive an art proof for this die line as well.

Press proofs for labels

Press proofs for labels are a significant step up from an art proof, provided at your request, for a cost. Press proofs print directly from our printing press, on the actual label material you are ordering. The cost for press proofs varies depending on several factors, you should contact your customer service representative to review the specific costs for your press proof order.

Magnifying glass, label and color samples for a press proof.

The advantage of press proofs is they allow you to see what your artwork will look like on your label material. The limitation of press proofs is that they will not include special finishing options or embellishments. In order to provide a press proof showing embellishments, you would be required to pay for all the tooling needed to produce effects like spot varnishes or embossing – costs you would incur again if you decided to make changes to those aspects of the label order after the tooling has been ordered.

Our customers routinely choose not to pay for a press proof. Using the resources available on our website, such as VIRTUAL CHECKTM in the EASESENTIALSTM suite or the many articles on this blog, together with the guidance of your customer service representative, is often enough to help guide your label order. We can also provide you with a free sample of the label material you order, which we also encourage you to take advantage of in order to perform material testing.

If, however, you still have a degree of uncertainty about how your label artwork will look once it is printed on your chosen label material, a press proof is an excellent option.

Press proofs include a printed dieline, but they are not diecut. On your final label printing run the dieline does not print and your labels will be “cut out” precisely along that line. Because press proofs print on your label material, with a liner, you can cut them out by hand and apply them as individual labels in order to test their look and fit on a sample container. This is another advantage of a press proof: checking how an actual label will apply to and appear on your real-life container. While you can certainly print, cut, and tape an art proof sample to your container, it’s not quite the same level of a real-world application test.

Which proof is right for you?

Neither proof option is going to be a complete 100% reproduction of your final label order. Depending on your experience with label printing, your degree of comfort with understanding the art proof, and the room in your budget for a press proof, you and your customer service representative can decide on the best option for your label order.

Find the best solution that makes the most sense for your brand.