Preflighting Printing Knowledge

Description | Software


Preflighting is an important step in any workflow. Preflight preparation and testing involves the checking and verification of all aspects of a print job. This is to ensure that the actual progression of steps necessary to complete the job can be carried out without disruptions. Documents that are poorly prepared, with missing page elements, create the most problems in terms of accurate output.

Most printers have a preflight system in place as part of their normal workflow. Some of the customer's burden is relieved when print professionals assist them with the details and to anticipate any questions or problems with a particular application. The preflighting process may involve special software and/or checklists. Some of the most common preflight problems include:

  • Fonts that are incorrect or missing
  • Banding of colors
  • Spot colors that are not converted to process colors and vice versa
  • Image trapping
  • Bleeds that are not adequate
  • Hairline rules Hidden elements
  • TIFF files that have not been converted from RGB mode to CMYK mode
  • Incorrect instructions on job tickets
  • Disks that are not usable

The use of PDF could save 50% of the time that is spent with preflighting. There are fewer variables associated with PDF files, which means that the results are more predictable. Since PDF saves documents exactly as they are intended to look, there are fewer questions relating to the document design and fewer problems with various page elements. The entire process becomes more efficient.



Software programs and plug-ins are available that can be used with Acrobat to assist with the preflighting of PDF documents. One such program is called Certify PDF by Enfocus. It is a plug-in for Adobe Acrobat that is easy to install and automatically preflights PDF documents. It can be customized so that when it checks documents, it will coordinate with preflight profiles that have already been established by a service bureau or print provider. Every time a PDF document is saved, the software automatically preflights the document and embeds a profile that increases the file size only slightly. Then, when the PDF file is opened again, the user will be presented with the preflight status of the document. Certify PDF logs and stores the edits performed on an original PDF. This record can then be applied to the file on which the PDF was based, such as an InDesign file. Both the original and the PDF version will then have the same edits.

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