Press check 101: the client’s point of view….

Last week we covered the importance of reviewing proofs thoroughly. As a companion to this, this week let’s look at press checks from both the client’s point of view, and the printer’s point of view.

printing_pressWHAT IS A “PRESS CHECK”?

When a client or designer wishes to see press sheets as they come off the press in order to insure color accuracy, that is called a press check. The press operator gets the press “up to color”, meaning that the CMYK ink densities are at the standard settings or the press sheet matches the color proof. From there, the client may ask for color “shifts”. Sometimes they are very specific and request shifts in points on specific colors (“Can you take off 5 points of magenta?”), or they may just say “it seems too ‘red’.” The press operator or press-room supervisor will then make the adjustments as the client requests. Sometimes, they can be simple adjustments. Sometimes it can take several shifts and even a few hours before a client is truly satisfied.


For the client, the press check has to meet certain criteria:

  • It’s at a convenient time (not 2:30 in the morning).
  • The press sheets and proofs are ready for review when I arrive (have it all laid out so I can review the sheet and the proof together).
  • The color is to the proof when I arrive (if you’re not “up to color” when you bring me to the press I’ll not be happy), and if you have samples of previous runs, have those ready too.
  • ppcAboutCol02BE READY FOR ME WHEN I ARRIVE! I’m busy, and we either have multiple press checks today, or I have to go to your competitor for another press check!
  • If I HAVE to wait, or have to “camp out” at the shop, give me a comfortable place to wait with either free wi-fi, or a computer so I can continue to work. Make sure you have coffee, cold beverages and even snacks for me, since I’m going to be there a while.

Granted, there are unforeseen circumstances, such as bad plates, or a typo is caught while the pressman is doing his first pulls, and those can push back press check times. Most clients are aware of that. But to have a client show up at 9 AM and it’s 9:45 before you actually take them back to the press, or you don’t have the proofs laid out with the press sheet, along with drawdowns, you are wasting their time.

Press checks are a necessary part of the printing business, and if the client and print services provider understands that the end result is to get to color quickly, make minor shifts in color on press, and then run the job, the process is much smoother for all involved. Next week we’ll look at press checks from the printer’s point of view.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at
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