What Is A Preflight Check? Checking Everything From PDF To Graphic

A preflight check for checking PDF, graphic design, graphic arts, and other files for printing quality:
Preflight PDF Tools in Markzware FlightCheck Preflight Solution
A preflight check scans everything from PDF to Graphic for print quality assurance. FlightCheck, the patented preflight technology from Markzware, is the standard solution for providing a preflight check. FlightCheck can process a preflight check to ensure print quality for such file formats as Adobe InDesign, Acrobat PDF, QuarkXPress, Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft Publisher, and many more.

What is a preflight check?
A preflight check is a final look through all of your production files for an output quality check before they leave your desktop. This saves time while eliminating common project-delaying errors, as well as saves money as a final output quality and content check ensures that all of the client’s colors are correct and all project specifications are met with the best image printing. It is a good idea to have someone other than the production artist look over the files as a fresh set of eyes is more likely to catch potential problems. FlightCheck performs a thorough preflight check.

Create a preflight checklist to keep your work methodical and which you can hand back to the artist flagging problems for correction. Depending on your industry or the nature of your files, use and adapt the following preflight checklist when preflighting files:

Quick Quality Checklist by a dedicated Preflight Manager
1. Artist: Collect or package all your files, ready to burn to CD and update links. Prepare all your paperwork, burn to disk, and package everything up ready for the supplier, then hand it off to your quality control manager for a final print quality check. If you need help preparing your package read my article on How To Ship Files.

Goal: Preparing the package to go out means that all materials in your package – digital or paper – can be checked and if it is approved it can go immediately to the supplier.

2. Preflighter: take the package and download the contents of the disk to your hard drive so you have a record of what you checked and what shipped.

3. While they are downloading: Look at all the paperwork and the printouts supplied by the artist.
Goal: This visual check gets you familiar with the job and flags the most obvious problems quickly.

a) Do they seem to have been built to supplier specifications?
b) Are printouts of all elements on the disk provided?
c) Do they seem to conform to your company’s expected standards?
d) Do you see any obvious errors (i.e., safety, spelling, improper template usage)?
e) Are the markups to your supplier clear or do they raise more questions?

4. Run a preflight software like FlightCheck by Markzware.
Goal: For me, FlightCheck is the fastest way to get a snap shot of the project as a whole, allowing you to flag potential problems immediately. Once files are downloaded and you have made some notes from the printouts for follow up, load the fonts and run the files through FlightCheck.
It will flag:
a) RGB Images which should be CMYK
b) low resolution images, missing fonts, Pantone colors in use, missing images

5. Now look at the files
Goal: You have flagged issues from the printouts and FlightCheck. Now it’s time to open and have a look at the files themselves.
a) are they built to the correct size?
b) what file formats are they (Illustrator, Quark, InDesign, PDF) and is this appropriate to the job?
c) are they the right scale?
d) is there enough bleed and are all graphics within the safety area?
e) are folds, die lines and glue flaps created properly?
f) check Ink densities (see my Ink Density post)

Total time for check up to this point: 15-30 mins (perhaps up to an hour for a larger project)
At this point you have three options for your project:

1. Run with it as is and ship package to supplier
2. Request revisions and a new disk from the artist
3. Flag marginal problems with the Studio Manager or Account person and decide on course of action (ie: fix or ship)

Stay consistent and allow that extra 1/2 hour for the print quality check and you will see your re-run or re-print costs go down. You will not eliminate every error but in a busy studio, where artists are often rushed, taking a moment to stop and double check things with FlightCheck will be time well spent.

David Williams is from Toronto, Canada. He has over 20 years of experience in print production, prepress, creative, studio management, print purchasing and client liaison and currently works for Silverpeak, a large format printing firm in Mississauga.

What Is A Preflight Check? Checking Everything From PDF To Graphic

Check PDF, graphic design and other file formats with FlightCheck.

You can buy Markzware’s preflight solution via the FlightCheck page. See more printing solutions for graphic design and graphic arts on the Markzware Products page.

What Is A Preflight Check? Checking Everything From PDF To Graphic

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