CRASH COURSE: How to proof for mailing

Proofing is a crucial part of sending artwork to print. The same goes for mailing however, addressing, data files and variable data can make proofing more complex. Follow these easy steps the next time you proof a mailing document to help you pick up on those nasty mistakes.


Before sending your artwork and data to your mail house follow these steps. Always do these checks before sending artwork to your mail house. This will avoid confusion with different document versions and multiple data files.


Step 1 – Proof your print document in-house 

  • Firstly, check your spelling and grammar. Overlooking a typo is easily done. Always get another person to read your work, or try reading your copy backwards. This forces your brain to read each word individually.
  • Double check your important information such as emails, phone numbers, dates or addresses. Getting this information wrong could hurt your return on investment (ROI).

Step 2 – Check your data file

  • Most importantly, are you using the right data? Always include a date in your file name to make sure you always use the right file.
  • Look through your data and look for missing information and other suspicious data. Read this article for more on data set up.
  • Have you sorted your data for any reason? Double check against your original source that you haven’t sorted just one column and mixed up the rest.
  • Check your total quantity to make sure it is as you expected.

Step 3 – Check your variable data 

  • If your document only contains an address block, your mail house will set this up in the right position for a window faced envelope.
  • If your document contains merged fields in the copy such as first names, company names or other information, make sure you have made this clearly visible by including <<FIRST NAME>> where the first name should be placed. It is also good to highlight this merge field especially if the document is longer that one page.
  • Ensure that your merged fields are named the same as the headers in your data file. This will help your mail house know what goes where.
  • Create a fall back value for all your merged fields. This is critical if your letter contains a Dear <<FIRST NAME>>. If your data file is missing a first name your fall back value should default to Dear Customer or something similar.

Send your artwork and data to print! Always ask for a final proof of the document with merge field headers only and another with a sample of your live data.


Step 4 – Final checks

  • Sit down with a coffee and read your final document from beginning to end, free from distractions.
  • Look for your merged fields and make sure the entire paragraph makes sense.
  • Check your addressing block has included all the fields you require.
  • Cross check your merged data with your datafile, including all of the address block and your merged fields.
  • Your mail house should have taken out any duplicates from your data. Cross check your final mailing quantity provided to your by your mail house to your original data file.

Approve your document for mailing! Don’t forget if you want to keep a copy of the final product, include yourself in the data file.


Are you ready to mail your next campaign? Talk to us today about our bulk mail services and postal discounts on 08 9493 0477.