Going to your first press check and don’t know what to expect? A press check is the final step before the project goes to print so you can make sure the files are going to print exactly as you (or your company) envisioned. It’s important to know how to conduct yourself heading in, since a press check is your last chance to alter aspects of the piece before dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of copies are printed. Don’t sweat it, though – we’ve got some tips to make you look like a pro.



What to Expect:

All projects are different, so each press check runs a little differently from one to the next. Length depends on the size of the project – if it’s a 200 page Visitor’s Guide, it could be a two-day event; if it’s a brochure, it may only last about an hour or so.

Prep your nose – press checks can be smelly. With all types of inks, papers, machines working hard on a variety of projects, a press room definitely has a certain odor.

Prep your ears – presses are very loud. At most facilities you will have your own waiting room to see and review your proofs. Some may have you go directly to the presses to view your proofs. If you’re not a fan of loud noises, many printers supply ear plugs for safety! Make sure to ask if they aren’t readily available.

And, always ask your print rep at the specific facility you go to if you are allowed to take photos. Some locations allow it, others do not.




What to Bring:

  • The latest revision of color mockup proofs. This is going to be the key to cross-checking in the press room. Also a good note to bring along a typed list of changes that you may have made after you sent the files to the printer to confirm they have all the correct updates on their ends, too!


  • If you can, bring along a laptop for any cross-checking, and for sources files. If you don’t have a laptop, or cannot bring one, save out the files on a disc or flash drive. Be prepared!


  • Previously printed documents (whether it is the same printer or not), especially if this is a reprint or job that is similar to a previous job. This will be a good reference no matter what the print job entails.


  • A swatch book, if you have one. This will come in handy when checking the colors across the publication. It is also especially important if there are Pantone colors that need to be printed in CMYK.


  • A loupe, if you have one. This comes in handy when the publication has very fine details or small type/characters.


  • Your ID! Some bigger print houses require an ID to sign-in, especially during an overnight/two-or-more day press check!


  • Client & Designer! While not everyone can always attend, it’s always best if you are able to have a designer and client together. You’re both looking for different things and two (or more) sets of eyes are better than none!


  • Snacks & Drinks: Most facilities provide small snacks & drinks for you during your time, but if you have specific favorite snacks & drinks, make sure to bring them along! If you have a multiple page job, you’ll usually have to wait an hour – sometimes even 5 or more between proofs. Talk with your rep ahead of time to get an idea of what it might be like.


What to look for:

  1. Check the stock/material

It’s important to crosscheck and make sure the printer used the correct paper, weight, and finish. There are many types of papers, weights and finishes, so if the press check is not printing well on the type of paper you selected, you’ll need to ask the printer whether it is an issue of the file colors, etc. or if it is an issue of the type of material it is being printed on. Your printer should have good recommendations of alternate options for best results.


  1. Compare with the mockup

Make sure to get out that printed out mockup you brought with you to make sure both files are consistent with one another. If not, point out what is inconsistent, and what needs to be modified.


  1. Look at the fonts