The Press Check
Designing is only part of the challenge
Finally, we reach the press check. Most people are intimidated by the press check process -- you're in an unfamiliar, noisy, printing plant with people standing around waiting for your final nod. It will be easy to skip steps or be shaken off task -- but you must resist and concentrate on the matter at hand -- guaranteeing a perfect print job.
As soon as the ink is up to run-specifications, the pressman will pull a sheet for you to look at, approve and probably sign off on. Take your time, pay attention, and have a checklist to go by. (Download our PDF Press Check List as a guide; and be sure to see all the other check lists we've provided below.)
Press Check Notes:
- Bring a second person and put them on task for proofreading.
- The press sheet cannot exactly match either the original copy original proof.
- Bring the original copy, the ink and paper swatches and the final ok'd proofs.
- Compare color match items
- Obtain overall impression: slowly scan the entire press sheet
- Does the sheet being used match the specified sheet/paper?
- Are spot ink colors correct?
- Is all copy on the sheet
- Are display and headline type accurate font, set, spelling?
- Check all registration
- Check trapping
- Study the pictures, type, screens to make sure they are consistent
- Look for flaws and imperfection * broken type, pinholes, mottling, hickeys or ghosting
- Fold the sheet for correct backups, gutters tick-marks (cuts, scores, etc.) Photos aligned
- Take a few press sheets, fold into dummy, check for stitch, creep, alignment.
- Weigh the piece if it is to be mailed
Typography & Design, a division of the U.S. Government Printing Offices offers these brief steps in assuring a successful job:
Press Sheet Checklist
What to look for when reviewing a press sheet:
- Number the press sheets as you receive them.
- Verify the paper stock is what you requested in weight and color.
- Check for missing elements and copy changes.
- Check registration of elements.
- Examine four-color images for major color deviations.
- Confirm that color breaks are correct.
- Check type carefully for broken letters and imperfections.
- Examine sheets for hickeys, blemishes, and any thing unusual.
Remember to check color match consistency on elements that cross over from page to page. Fold or cut the press sheet across the image and compare it with the other crossover page. Be aware that if you radically alter the color on one page, you may not be able to replicate it on the crossover page.
Remember too that color is a matter of personnal taste and each individual's perception of color is subjective.
GPO also offers these tips on making the most of checking your proofs:
- Assume NOTHING!
- Read the proof(s) against your supplied laser visuals to help aid in the review process.
- Check headlines, captions, and body text for type reflow throughout. Make sure italics, bolds, etc. are used where you wanted them.
- Check for character integrity, broken letters, and sharpness of type.
- Check each photo and/or illustration for proper position, cropping, and scaling.
- Compare illustrations on proof to originals supplied for color fidelity.
- Check each element for proper color treatment.
- Check each color image and screen build element for internal register.
- Verify that bleeds extend beyond the trim marks.
- Verify that the finishing elements; such as foilstamping, diecutting, embossing, drilling and perforations are properly indicated.
- Confirm that all corrections from previous proofs have been made, if applicable.
Not Quite The End
If everything has gone the way it's supposed to, then you're ready to release your job to the printer -- congratulations! If anything goes bump, then simply back up, fix it, and make sure you cover your bases. Each time you make a mistake you'll learn a valuable lesson. The idea however is not to let too many problems affect your projects -- and keep those expensive lessons to a minimum.
Below you'll find an excellent listing of other sources of good information.
Until next time... keep on Printing
Fred Showker, Editor/Publisher
I'd love to hear about your educational experiences, or your favorite training products. Please drop me a line and let's share with all DT&G readers!
Where to next? ______________________
Below are some of the better resources that have appeared since my original seminars on desktop publishing in the mid 1980s.
Chuck Green, Mr. DTP asks: Where does a typical desktop publishing project begin? Dumb question? Perhaps not. in his article that will explain some of the technical aspects of design you may not have considered -- and remind you of some of the production steps you've probably forgotten. Chuck Green's Idea Book is one of the better web sites on the web.
Creative Latitude, another high-quality/low noise web site brings you -- Art director, designer and production artist, Valarie Martin Stuart, Dallas Texas, with her breakdown of each item that should be on your Prepress Checklist. Her extensive essay explains in detail each item included on her downloadable PDF Prepress Checklist. Just follow the steps in this Pre-Press Checklist and you'll be on your way to sending perfect files to press.
While you're in the Creative Latitude site, be sure to check out Derald Schultz's Digital File Preparation Guide for help in preparing your digital files. It contains additional information and explanations of common terms to help you communicate better with your printer.
Millbrook Printing Company, Grand Ledge MI, offers their own downloadable Electronic Prepress Checklist in PDF format, or via their web site at millbrookprinting.com. They encourage their customers to use the online version which delivers the information directly to the prepress department.
Mediarail Design, Inc. out of Atlanta, Geogia offers an extensive array of good articles for digital graphic artists including this File Preparation Guide for Graphic Designers that will help you in preparing your digital files.
Just Your Type uses Adobe PDF files as an industry standard because the format is compatible with virtually all operating systems and digital pre-press systems. Their essay on Acrobat offers brief but fairly clear information on things to consider when preparing files for printing via Adobe Acrobat.
- Getting it Printed by Mark Beach, Ph.D. and Eric Keenly, M.S.
- Graphic Designer's Guide to Pricing, Estimating & Budgeting by Theo Stephan Williams
- AIGA Professional Practices in Graphic Design: American Institute of Graphic Arts by Tad Crawford (Editor), AIGA
- Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designers by Tad Crawford, Eva Doman Bruck
- The Business Side of Creativity: The Complete Guide for Running a Graphic Design or Communications Business by Cameron S. Foote, Mark Bellerose
- Inside the Business of Graphic Design: 60 Leaders Share Their Secrets of Success by Catharine Fishel
- Selling Graphic Design, Second Edition by Don Sparkman
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