The variables that can potentially impact the print quality of a digital file have necessitated the additional workflow step of "preflighting." Preflighting is a process by which all elements of a digital file are checked to ensure that they will properly work in a production workflow. This enables problems to be fixed as early as possible in the workflow and not hold up the printing process. Preflighting was originally a manual process, but can now be handled by software.
The effectiveness and accuracy of preflighting software was tested by creating files to include common errors, such as fonts not embedded or missing, wrong color space, image resolution too low, wrong file formats and improperly set bleeds. These files were run through preflighting software and a record was kept of whether or not the preflight software identified these common errors. Printed output from these files was then compared to the list of flagged errors from the reports generated by the preflight software. In turn, the output was verified to determine whether the errors affected the final output.
Adobe InDesign CS Preflight, Markzware FlightCheck 5.5 and PitStop Professional 6. 1 were selected to determine their effectiveness in detecting and reporting errors that most commonly impact print reproduction quality. The tests conducted showed that none of the three software packages tested wa completely effective in detecting and reporting errors. FlightCheck was the most effective software in detecting errors in the native and PDF files. PitStop flagged more errors that affected output, but all programs flagged too many errors that did not affect output.
InDesign Preflight was only effective at flagging RGB errors, while FlightCheck was the most effective at catching common errors. Both FlightCheck and PitStop had problems detecting image color and file format problems in PDF files. This leads to the conclusion that it is best not to rely completely on preflighting software. It is best to use proper file creation techniques and to use preflight as a secondary method to find errors.
Print Media (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Twyla J. Cummings
Zolan, Gregory S., "Effectiveness of Preflighting Software in a Design Workflow" (2005). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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