Preflight checks: The designers checklist before print

The following article is by Rob Steele – for the Roller banner stands team

Just as a surgeon prepares to operate, a number of checks have to be made to make sure there are no serious problems.

To preflight correctly it is a case of checking all of your projects components to make sure they pass the checklist to finally go to print. Normally the prepress printers personnel will check the files before they are sent to the rip, but it is good practice for graphic designers to preflight their own work so they don’t have the printers emailing or calling them up to rectify the problems.
Adobe indesign has a great built in preflight tool, I would advise this software for preflight checks on its own. You will still need to check the work with a checklist, Indesign has a links panel where files can be checked quickly for RGB imagery (the usual problem).

The common causes of errors is layout issues, hairline rules, elements not butting up to each other leaving horrid gaps.

Images – Another problem area, most newbie designers forget to convert their graphics to CMYK rather than RGB, are the photos low resolution (72dpi), any of these elements will flag up errors to be corrected before printing.


Color spaces – Are your colours converted to CMYK? Is RGB used on any elements? Does your file contain pantone specific colours that need to be converted to CMYK colour mode?

The Adobe Indesign preflight tools

With Adobe Indesign preflight tools there is no excuse for any designers not to preflight.

Overprint – Indesign has a overprint previewer, you can preview on-screen elements that are set to overprint to avoid overprint errors when it goes to press. Overprint  is used to create a colour trap area where colours are adjacent to avoid white gaps showing up on the press. This tool will show you any problems before it gets to the press, basically you will see what the press sees but on screen. (Click – view – overprint preview)

Flattener – useful tool for displaying which fonts will be created to outline when the file is flattened (Window>Output>Flattener Preview and Window>Flattener Preview) The drop down box have several options, simply click the drop down to preview any transparent objects on a page.


Live Preflight – Live Preflight (Window>Output>Preflight), does exactly what it says on the tin, it is to to alert designers of problem that may arise before the print process. Live preflight can be set to alert the designer as he/she works so errors or issues can be rectified instantly on the fly.

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