How to Survive a Press Check

Whether you are a Production Manager, Designer or even an Account Executive, a time will come when you are needed at a press check – the final and all-important step in the print production process. But does the thought of a press check make your heart race, and not in a good way? You are not alone. It can be pretty intimidating walking into a pressroom with the huge presses humming along at a fast pace, with everyone waiting for your sign off. If you break it down to a few simple steps it won’t seem so daunting to sign off that press sheet.

By the time you get to the press, the pressman should have the sheet pretty much ready to go based on the colour proofs that you approved earlier in the process. These proofs should be at the press. Once the pressman is happy he will pull you a sheet for your approval. Oh and feel free to bring another pair of eyes, it doesn’t hurt to have two people reviewing things and it can take a bit of the pressure off. Now for the checklist…

• Is it the right stock? Seems obvious, but mix-ups can happen.
• Take a good look at the overall sheet, for a first impression of how it looks.
• Check for registration and trapping, and ensure everything is lined up properly (and that any knocked-out type is legible).
• Does the overall colour need an adjustment? If it does – give honest, straightforward feedback (e.g. looks too red or whites look dirty) and let the pressman worry about how to fix it.
• Are you using spot colours? If so check against a PMS book for accuracy.
• Make sure no copy is missing and that the images are all positioned correctly.
• Is the colour consistent throughout the sheet? Colour match the proof and determine if it’s what you expected.
• Check for flaws, hickeys, imperfection, hairs, or broken type.

If you do make changes to the press sheets it is a good idea to number them so you can keep track of where you have been. Once you have a sheet you are happy with, sign it off and ask for a couple of sheets to take back to the office and you are done!

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  1. What is the best way to explain to designers and marketing managers that the press check is not the time to start proofreading or to update copy.

    We have a client who will spend 8 hours at your facility proofreading
    and updating copy during the press check. Our pre-press people will have to send hours making changes and re-plating because of their type-o's and updating at the last minute. They demand that we leave the press idle while their corrections are being made.

    Does any one have suggestions? We have tried to explain that this is not
    standard procedure, bordering on unprofessional.

  2. We have never experienced this issue with any of our clients and find it surprising that this would happen as the cost incurred would make it extremely cost prohibitive. I think once a client knows what the costs are they would not approach a presscheck like that again. All you can do is explain to them the process and charge them accordingly.