How to do a press check

We encourage press checks because they aid in successful project completion. The press check takes place after the press is set up, but before the actual run is underway. It is your last chance to make sure all your expectations are met. While errors should have been corrected during the proofing stages, occasionally something is missed. Be aware that revisions at this time are costly, but it will be cheaper to catch and fix an error at this time than finding an error in the finished piece and having to reprint the entire job.


This is the main reason you attend a press check - to make sure that the color on press matches or comes as close as possible to the color you approved in the proof. Color proofs are valuable guides but they never match press colors exactly due to differences in printing methods and materials. The press check allows you to see how your job looks and provides the opportunity to make small overall color adjustments, or to change color/s if the result is not what you expected. These "fine-tuning" adjustments can make the difference between an acceptable or exceptional result.

Take a collaborative approach to fixing problems on press. The best way to get the color you want is to work with your press operator, utilizing their expertise and experience. Concentrate on critical areas like flesh tones or corporate logo match colors. Let the press operator know what you think is out of order and ask for suggestions on how to remedy the problem. If the operator has a good sense of the results you are looking for, they will come up with the right solution.

Keep in mind that the color on press may never exactly match the color proof. Your goal is to make sure the images look as good as possible and to sign-off on a sheet you can be proud of.

Press Checklist:

Be on time.

The person with sign off authority needs to be present.

Establish a rapport with the press operator.

Take your time and address each element of the press sheet.

Look at the overall impression for color balance across the sheet.

Make sure paper stock is what you ordered; check finish, weight and color.

Check for missing elements and copy changes.

Check registration for sharpness, color overlapping, edges of images and any screened type.

Check match colors for look, density and consistency.

Compare process imagery to color proofs; adjust to achieve pleasing color balance if necessary.

Check type carefully for any blurriness or fuzziness.

Check for flaws such as broken type, odd scratches, hickies, spots and ghosting.

Get a few press samples to compare to approved sheet.

Ask for sample of trimmed job.