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Preflighting

If you are unfamiliar with “Preflighting”, in the printing world, this is the term used to signify a thorough check of “print ready” artwork to be sure that it is truly “print ready”. You may be an outstanding designer and you may create nothing less than one complete masterpiece after another, but if you are unfamiliar with the complete printing process, then you may wish to consider this service before sending your artwork directly to your printer. When there are issues with your press ready PDF supplied directly to your printer there is a high likelihood that one of these three situations below will occur.

  1. Your printer will place your job on hold with questions or concerns causing major delays in your printing process. Since it is quite common to have extremely tight deadlines, this can often be much more than just a minor inconvenience.
  2. Your printer will find a way to make all of the necessary corrections needed to your files, and pass on unexpected extra charges to you or your client in doing so.
  3. Your job will be printed just the way your files have been supplied having unexpected and disappointing results.

Sharkey Graphic Solutions can usually be counted on for a “24-Hour” turn time on our preflighting services for all of your Adobe Indesign, Adobe Illustrator and PDF Print Ready files (and supporting graphics when applicable). We will check your press ready files and list out each concern (or potential problem) we identify including but not limited to these items listed below.

RGB Images
RGB Images

RGB Images can sometimes cause postscript interpretation errors when a job is sent to the RIP (Raster Image Processor) device at the printing stage, but more often than this, major unexpected color shifting will occur. Because the “RGB” color range is much larger than the “CMYK” color range, many “RGB” colors can be extremely difficult to reproduce when a job is printed in “CMYK”.

Non-Converted Spot Colors
Non-Converted Spot Colors

This is much the same as “RGB” colors accept worse as many spot ink colors cannot be achieved in RGB or CMYK making some colors totally impossible to match in a CMYK printing environment. Note: When a specific spot color is important, spot color printing is always an option, but is often a much more expensive process as a special ink would need to be mixed by your printer.

Low Resolution Images
Low Resolution Images

When a low res. (or low resolution) continuous tone image is used for printing, your images will be blurry and/or pixilated when printed. Even though a 72 ppi (pixels per inch) image is considered to be perfectly acceptable for web use and looks fine on a monitor, a 72 dpi (dots per inch) image will look horrible when it is printed. The standard resolution for optimal printing is 300 dpi. In most cases Sharkey Graphic Solutions will flag any image under 250 dpi when preflighting a job received.

Missing Bleeds
Missing Bleeds

When bleeds have not been included in your print ready files, you run the likely risk of several distasteful issues. If the files are used as provided, it is almost a guarantee that you will be seeing a thin white line in variant thicknesses on the outside edges which often alternate from side to side throughout the press run. It is important to remember that there is always a certain amount of slight variance when a job is cut down to its final size. Sometimes your printer may completely enlarge your file supplied to achieve a full bleed, but cutting off important parts of your artwork in doing so. Other times your printer may under trim your finished piece, thus making your product smaller than it should be to compensate for this problem.

Crops Marks in Bleed Area
Crops Marks in Bleed Area

When you have crop marks in your standard 1/8” bleed area, this actually destroys the purpose of having a bleed to begin with. In all of the Adobe products we have used, the default distance of trim marks from the final trim is set at .0833”, which is roughly 1/16”. If the Adobe default is used, you will now end up with roughly 1/16” of true bleed instead of the standard 1/8” required by most printers.

Incorrect Pagination
Incorrect Pagination

Most printers are usually more than happy to receive your files as single pages, but if you are printing a book with large amount of crossover pages it may be your preference to supply your files as spreads, but here is what we often see happening when this is done. Many designers often supply spreads as “Reader Spreads” and not “Printer Spreads”. Printer spreads are how the sheets actually need to be printed to achieve reader spreads when the book is bound

Unembedded Fonts
Unembedded Fonts

When fonts are not embedded in your print ready PDF very serious problem can often occur. If a common font is used like “Arial” or “Times Roman”, you may be okay as this font is usually available on your printer’s computer, but if a less common unembedded font is used and this font is not on your printer’s computer, an entirely different font is usually automatically substituted in place of the one you used causing a cascading effect of not only a font used that you don’t like, but a reflowing of your text causing some text to be lost all together.

Missing Printer Fonts
Missing Printer Fonts

This problem is much like the one mentioned above in that the resulting problems and issues are exactly the same.

Objects or Type Cutting Off
Objects or Type Cutting Off

This is just a result of human error, which makes a great case or having a secondary party proofread and/or preflight your digital artwork. If we spot something like this we will of course bring it to your attention, or include it in our preflighting report at the very least.

Black Type Printing in CMYK
Black Type Printing in CMYK

It is very common to wind up having your black text being built in all 4 cmyk colors when exporting PDFs from Microsoft programs such as “Word” or “Publisher”, as these programs are not truly designed to print from (or print correctly from in a professional printing environment.) When your black type is printed in CMYK it will often cause your black type to look bold, fuzzy or have halos of the extra colors being printed.

Large Black Areas Not Built as “Rich Black”
Large Black Areas Not Built as “Rich Black”

When a large solid black background is used in artwork supplied, if it is built from 100% K (or black), the final printed product will actually appear as gray. To achieve a deep rich black color for large black backgrounds or shapes, the black should be built as “Rich Black” which is typically 60% Cyan, 40% Magenta, 30% Yellow & 100% Black.

Type Too Close To Trim
Type Too Close To Trim

When type and critical copy is too close to trim, there is always a risk of cutting off critical information. Most presses also require a minimum of 3/8” gripper margin. In addition it usually looks more aesthetically pleasing to have your type printing within a 3/8”-1” margin within your sheet (1/8” - 1/4” on business cards & 1”-6” for large banners).

Copy Off Center
Copy Off Center

This is purely about aesthetics. This may seam like a minor thing to worry about, but giving a professional appearance can mean the difference between success and failure. As an example, a tri-fold brochure may be someone’s first impression of your company or charitable organization, and it’s always important to remember that you can only make a first impression once.

Layout Errors
Layout Errors

This is a relatively general term, used to cover all of the bases with proper layout details needed to produce a perfect final printed product. Pocket Folders are a great example of a printed product, which can have a somewhat complex layout and need to carefully designed.

Butting Pages Not Trapping
Butting Pages Not Trapping

When pages do not butt correctly it will stand out horribly when the job gets printed. Keep this in mind when you are designing your project.

Crossover Spread Pages Out of Alignment
Crossover Spread Pages Out of Alignment

Crossover spreads are usually extremely important to most clients, so it is very important that they align perfectly.

Missing Links
Missing Links

If links are missing they wont be printed, so this is obviously an extremely important issue.

Black Type Knocking Out of Background
Black Type Knocking Out of Background

100% black type should ALWAYS be set to overprint to avoid any type of registration issues.

And much more…

*NOTE: Proofreading your text for typographical errors, is not included in our preflight services. Proofreading text is only included by Sharkey Graphic Solutions when we are the actual graphic designer of your artwork. Our client assumes full responsibility for any and all errors not spotted on the final PDF proof.

Feel free to contact Sharkey Graphic Solutions with any of your “Preflighting Services” questions.