From start to finish—Part 5: The flightcheck

Part V of V: The flightcheck

It takes a lot of sweat, a lot of time, often a lot of money, and possibly some blood and tears, but most every project eventually reaches that home stretch where you’re just about ready to deliver the final to the customer / printer / manufacturer / whatever.

But are you really ready? Below is a checklist to go over after you hit “Save” for the last time—but before you hit “Send.” It’ll help keep your print files clean and and your customers (and you!) happy. This is focused on software in the Adobe Creative Suite.



  • Delete all stray, unused artwork outside the artboard(s).
  • View in wireframe to make sure there are no hidden, extraneous pieces and make sure all corners meet. Keep it tight.
  • Make sure there are no hidden or unnecessary layers. Are your layers logical and clearly named?
  • Select same stroke weights to make sure scaling didn’t cause any inconsistencies (.5 pt vs. .57 pt, etc…).
  • Are things grouped in smart and cascading ways?
  • Make sure there’s a consistent light source for all objects with shadows and highlights.
  • When working with multiple graphics, maintaining color consistency throughout must be part of the process. Once you’ve established a color swatch, save it using the swatch palette.
  • Are there any spot or Pantone colors? Unless required for brand, you should use a CMYK mix.
  • Make sure there are no obvious, unnecessarily repeated items in the piece, or any little details missing.
  • Do you need a logo and/or copyright on the piece?
  • Find stray points and delete! (Select > Object > Stray points).
  • Check “Overprint preview”….sometimes objects are select to overprint, which is very bad news. Make sure to review the document in Overprint preview to ensure all your objects will print like they look on your normal screen.


  • Make sure you have “Packaged” the file so the printer/client has the right fonts.
  • Run spell check and proofread. But be careful, because while it’s better than nothing…
  • …Illustrator’s spellcheck is pretty pathetic. Never forget that.
  • Did you use “smart” punctuation, proper em dashes, &c?
  • Tighten all text boxes; make sure there’s no overflow.
  • Does the text need to be outlined? (Make sure to save a non-outlined version!)
  • Any awkward widows or orphans in the text boxes?
  • Are all page numbers right?


  • If there are raster images in the file, make sure they are embedded or make sure you “Package” the file so placed images stay associated with the project.
  • Are all of those images CMYK or grayscale? You don;t want anything RGB in something going to press.
  • Make sure sketch or reference images are not still embedded on a hidden layer, adding to file size.
  • Speaking of file size, make sure all images are hi-res for print‚ 200dpi at 100% usually is enough.


  • OK, so you’ve done all that? Print it out at 100% (and trimmed properly) and look at it. Sometimes things jump out at you on a hard copy that didn’t on screen.
  • Now have other people look at it.
  • If you have time, set it aside for a few days then look at it again.
  • Reproof as many times as is needed. The bigger the edits, the more likely you’re going to want to do another proof.
  • Hand off to the printer and participate in press checks if needed.


  • Finally, archive it—Dropbox, Amazon, a hard drive, a RAID, whatever. Be safe!
  • Share your work. Post it. Talk about it. But try to do it in a non-annoying way. Give insights into your process when possible instead of simply saying, “hey look at me!”
  • Obviously there’s a whole bunch of other things to do regarding social, promotion, printing, sales, fulfillment, &c.—but we’ll cover that in another series.


So… we did all that and the posters arrived in our office today, fresh off the press from Stolze Printing. We are extremely psyched to see them—and to offer them for sale very soon!

Update: The poster is done and for sale at the Tremendousness Store!