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Our Proofs and Other Preview Options

Proof Options

Nobody wants to order a large quantity of folders only to discover an error after they've already been printed. But don't worry, we've got you covered. Company Folders provides several different proof options to help you inspect your project's quality and ensure that it will print correctly.

Whether you just want to see how all of your printed elements are going to look or you want to touch and feel the final product in your hands before finalizing your design, we've got plenty of options to choose from.

Free PDF proof

free-pdf-proofOur free PDF proof is a digital file that provides your first look at the flat, printed layout of your folder design. The PDF proof comes free with every order you place with Company Folders and gives you an impression of how your final product will look, allowing you to make layout corrections if necessary.


  • Gives you a feel for the placement and sizing of your design elements.
  • Provides a basic impression of how the final product will look.
  • Completely free of cost.
  • Your fastest option for seeing a proof of your final product.


  • Digital formats are not ideal for color matching, as the colors may look different from the final printed project, due to possible discrepancies in your monitor settings.
  • The PDF is incapable of showing the effect that coating might have on the color of the ink or the texture of the folder.
  • You can't touch or interact with the PDF the way you can with a real folder.

Timeframe and cost

  • The PDF proof is a complimentary service that is free of charge.
  •  You can expect your proof within one business day of the order being placed. Please note that this may take longer if your design is not print-ready or is particularly complex.

Getting the most from your PDF proof

  •  We suggest that you print your PDF proof on your home printer so you can get a better idea of what the finished product will look like. The PDF itself shows a flattened version of the design, so all of the elements are on a flat 2-dimensional plane, but you can fold it into shape yourself. For more information, check out the section below on printing your PDF proof.

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Color digital proof

A color digital proof is a hard copy of your design printed out on a laser printer. It is mailed to you and must be signed and returned before work can be done on your project.

Laser Proof

We recommend using color digital proofs only for designs that use 4-color process, since they do not provide a good representation of final PMS colors. If your design contains foil stamping or embossing/debossing, these elements will be printed in one solid color (which is used to indicate to the printer where these elements should go). Color digital proofs can only show size and positioning of foil stamped or embossed/debossed elements.


  • Can help you confirm your colors on your 4-color process design.
  • Allows you to see the size and positioning of your design elements.
  • Your first color digital proof is free for every 4-color process project.


  • Cannot accurately display PMS colors, embossing/debossing or foil stamp effects.
  • Will not be printed on the same stock as your final project.
  • Color digital proofs are created without coating, and while they can simulate the look of some coatings, it won't look exactly the same.
  • Adds to your production time, since the printer cannot print your project without the color digital proof.
  • Whenever changes are made to a color digital proof, a new proof must be created. Creating a new color digital proof will cost extra and the step is necessary even if you do not need to have the second proof shipped to you for approval. However, in the case where an additional color digital proof has to be created due to an error on our behalf, we will waive the cost.

Timeframe and cost

  • After you approve your PDF proof, a color digital proof can be created and shipped within 3 business days.
  • The color digital proof will be shipped via UPS ground delivery at no charge to you. You will have to pay shipping costs to return the proof to the printer.
  • There is no cost for your first color digital proof. Should you require any additional color digital proofs, you may incur additional fees. Please contact our Print Project Team for more details.
  • Please be aware that the free color digital proof offer is not compliant with our 4-Color Process Letter Size Two Pocket Folder.  Should you require a color digital proof of this product, there is a $55 fee.

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Constructed color digital mockup

constructed color digital mockupA constructed color digital mockup is laser printed to size on special stock (NOT your product's final stock). Side 1 of your design will be printed onto one sheet of stock, Side 2 on a second sheet. Both sheets are then cut and folded together to mimic your product. 

We recommend using constructed color digital mockups for designs that use four-color process, since they do not provide a good representation of final PMS colors. Foil stamped, embossed, or debossed elements will be printed in one solid color to indicate the location of these elements to the printer. Constructed color digital mockups can only show size and positioning of these elements.


  • Helps confirm colors on four-color process designs
  • Lets you see the size and positioning of design elements
  • Comes with a card stock sample to show what your stock will feel like
  • Comes with a PMS chip to show what PMS colors will look like


  • Cannot accurately display PMS colors, embossing, debossing, or foil stamping
  • Is not printed on the same stock as your final product
  • Remains uncoated and cannot simulate the look of all coatings
  • Adds to your production time
  • Requires a new constructed color digital mockup to be made for each set of revisions, which can incur extra costs.

Timeframe and cost

  • We create the constructed color digital mockup within 1-2 business days of final .PDF proof approval.
  • We ship your mockup via UPS ground delivery at no charge to you.
  • Your color digital mockup costs $95 for a custom die-cut or $65 for a standard die-cut.

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Product proof

folder product proof A product proof is an actual physical sample of your final, printed design. You will receive up to ten units, complete with your chosen stocks, special effects and coatings. Consider it the dress rehearsal before your design's big performance-it might be too late in the process to make big sweeping changes to your design, but it's not too late to correct colors, fix embossing/debossing errors or change coatings.  

Product proofs are recommended for very large orders and custom die cut products, since these types of orders require a fair amount of investment on your behalf and you'll want to ensure that everything is exactly right.


  • Enables you to see exactly how your finished product will look.
  • Product proofs allow you to check every aspect of your product, including both CMYK and PMS coloring, the size and positioning of your design elements and even the functionality of your product.
  • This is the only type of proof that gives you an accurate sample of your foil stamped and embossed/debossed elements.
  • Allows you to experience the way your product will feel on the actual, printed stock.  


  • Product proofs represent the final stage of production, so if changes have to be made after receiving your product proof, you will incur additional costs. You will be charged for the creation of a new color digital proof and if necessary, a new custom die.

Timeframe and cost

  • The time it takes to produce a product proof is roughly equivalent to the amount of time it will take to produce your final product, so using a product proof will double your production time.
  • Due to the nature of folder printing, your product proof will cost close to the same amount of money as printing off 250 copies of your final product. The exact cost of your physical proof will depend on the specs of your project.

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Hand-cut mockup

free-pdf-proof A hand-cut mockup lets you see and feel the custom die-cut of your choice, without paying the full price for creating a new die. The mockup is made using the same stock as your order and constructed to show the product's final appearance.

A hand-cut mockup costs $80 (with free UPS ground shipping within the continental U.S.) and takes approximately 2-3 business days to create.

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Money-saving alternatives

If your budget doesn't allow for you to use a color digital proof or a product proof, there are still plenty of ways you can get an idea of what your final design will look like (instead of just hoping everything looks okay when you receive your order).

Free samples

If you want to inspect the quality of the product and don't necessarily need to see how your own design will look when printed, you can request a free sample.

Folder Sample Packet Sample Packet

Want to see what a certain product or stock looks like? We can provide you with samples of up to three products and six paper stock swatches. We'll do our best to fulfill any special requests (for instance, if you want to see a design with foil stamping in a particular color). Note that samples will not feature your own design.

Ink SwatchInk Swatch

Ink swatches show what your PMS color will look like on your selected stock. The swatches you receive will be a PMS chip for white stocks and an ink draw for all other stocks. PMS chips come from the PMS book. An ink draw is a specified ink color applied to your requested stock. Contact the Print Project Team for more information.

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Die strike

Die Strike A die strike allows you to obtain a sample of any foil stamped or embossed/debossed design elements before they are applied to your final product. It's applied to an 8 ½ x 11" sheet of paper, so any design elements must fit into that space.

For example, if you have an embossed logo, you can obtain a die strike of your exact logo on an 8 ½ x 11" sheet of your preferred stock. This allows you to judge whether the logo elements look correct and the embossed textures are to your liking. A die strike will not show you positioning or size in relation to your other design elements.

The cost of a die strike will depend on which type of die is necessary to create your design.

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Skin Proof

Skin ProofA skin proof allows you to see how the exterior of any vinyl, leather like, or poly binder will look. Using your chosen imprint method, your design will be imprinted onto the stock you selected. This stock will not be attached to chipboard; you will simply receive this exterior “skin” to ensure that your design elements are all placed and printed correctly.

Your skin proof will cost $250 and take 2-5 business days to create. (Note: this cost will be deducted from your order if your artwork remains unchanged.) Once you receive and approve your proof, you will need to sign it and ship it back to us in order to begin production.

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Creating your own printed copy

handmade mockup Although it won't look much like the finished product, we recommend that customers print out their design at home to save time and money while getting their final product print-ready. Simply print the design using your home or office printer. You can use a pair of scissors to cut along the dieline and then fold the elements so that your sample takes on the shape of the folder.


  • A homemade proof allows you to see the positioning of your elements and get a basic sense of how your final product will look.
  • Having a hard copy of your design makes it easier for you to show others and get feedback-you can even write or draw on it directly.
  • Creating your own printed copy is faster than waiting for one, and you can do it at any point in the design process-even if you're not ready to submit your final artwork. This allows you to create several different designs and see which one you like best before placing an order.
  • Best of all, it's completely free and won't slow down the production process.


  • Homemade proofs will not show you accurate sizing or coloring for your final design, nor will they be able to show you some of the finer functionality features, like expansion pockets.
  • It's not possible to replicate embossing, foil stamping or coating with a homemade proof.

Keep in mind that a proof may not always be necessary. If you are confident with your final design or if you're simply re-ordering the same design with no additional changes, you may not need to see a proof. For more information on proofs or to order a proof for your design, please contact our Print Project Team.