Ed #11 Print It

OK Rules

The first rule is that successful press OKs are the result of everything that came before. The design does not contain features, such as hairline crossovers, that are hard to manage. Any special colors you are trying to match have already been supplied to the printer. The images you’ve provided have enough resolution to reproduce well. The paper has been acclimated to the pressroom.

Most of all, successful press OKs are the result of paying attention to the final proof of the project before the job goes on press. You should already be confident that all of the fonts, bleeds and crossovers are correct. You should already have looked at ink drawdowns, which show spot or custom colors on the actual paper that will be used, and all of the color should already be dialed in, so all the printer needs to do is match it. If the job is a reprint or one in a series, the printer also should have reviewed samples of the previous copies, or better yet, unbound, untrimmed flat sheets of the job with the color bars in place. And all of the copy should already have been proofread by a professional proofreader. With press time often costing thousands of dollars an hour, you do not want to wait until the press OK to discover and fix a missing comma.

Another rule for all successful OKs is good communication. To avoid surprises in the results or the final invoice, don’t take anything for granted. Ask questions. Seek explanations. Discuss your impression of the work with the printer and ask for his or her opinion too. And speak in plain English. Unless you really know what you are talking about, don’t say “increase the density of the cyan by 20%”, but say, “the color looks a little weak.” Let the experts figure out how to correct it.

Be flexible. Most large printers run around the clock, which means that your press check could be held at any time. Large projects may require several OKs that are spaced hours apart, or even overnight.

To make things easier many printers have lounge areas for clients. Some even have small rooms where you can work or catch a nap while waiting to review your project. Bring a book or other work to help keep yourself occupied. Make yourself at home, but remember, you‘re actually still at work—and a printing plant may not be the best place to wear flip-flops.

Be prepared. When you go to the printer, wear neutral clothing, since the light reflected from bright colors can affect the appearance of the color. Bring the original illustrations or transparencies and the most recent proof along with a list of any changes that were specified. Although printers usually have some on-hand, you may also wish to bring your own loupe to check the appearance of the halftone dots. 

What you don’t want to bring is a lot of attitude. A press OK is not intended to be an adversarial process, but a collaborative one. Both you and the printer want to get the best possible job within the specified schedule and budget.

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