Preflight file set up

Business Sectors (Suites): Pre Press
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 26 Feb 2021


This standard covers the checking or 'preflighting' of supplied artwork files (Mac operator) or in house print ready files for production printing. As the functions for both operations are the same, you have an option of providing evidence and displaying competency in either/or both routes.

Checking that files are correctly configured is known as preflighting. Earlier forms of preflighting checked the files and highlighted any errors of individual components for the operator to fix. Examples of this were errors with fonts, images, bleed and page size. There were of course more complex issues such as layers, clipping paths and colour spaces. Presently, due to further sophistication of software, errors are not only highlighted but the software will correct any errors. However, the operator must be able use the software accurately and competently to enable this.

This is what the standard covers:

It applies to you if you work in a studio, pre-press department or digital printing environment and receive files or print ready files from clients or pre press department. On occasion you may have created or reformatted artwork yourself.

In order to print the files successfully in a production environment, regardless of the printing process, the files must be correctly configured for the pre press processes that use automated workflows that utilise file setup (e.g. print methods) printing process, inline finishing (foiling, embossing and cutting), substrates, and any post press operations.

There are current national and international standards that files should be checked against prior to going to print. These are updated regularly, and you should be familiar with them as they can vary for each printing process.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

Preflight files

  1. preflight file(s), check and advise the file supplier or originator when the format is not acceptable
  2. determine appropriate parameters in the files to be checked in accordance with organisational procedures
  3. determine the appropriate typical values, settings or external specification that file parameters should comply with
  4. select the appropriate profile, against which to compare file
  5. preflight file(s) using the most appropriate preflight software
  6. review and save preflight reports in a suitable format in accordance with organisational requirements
  7. determine the significance of issues reported from preflighting against organisational expectations
  8. pass the significant findings of preflight reports to customers or other relevant people in accordance with organisational requirements
  9. communicate issue(s) and their solution(s) in accordance with organisational procedures

    **Interpret and report the results of preflighting files

10. determine whether file(s)meets external standards or specifications
11. carry out accurate analysis of preflight reports and identify any reasons why external standards or specifications have not been met
12. determine from preflight reports, whether failure to meet standards prevent file(s) from being used for their intended purpose
13. review and interpret preflight reports and determine whether any alerts, errors, warnings or other information in the report indicate issues that will prevent files being used for their intended purpose
14. report delays when file(s) cannot proceed to the next stage in accordance with organisational procedures
15. communicate any significant issues causing non-compliance of file(s) in accordance with organisational procedures
16. advise on what needs to be done to correct file(s) in accordance with organisational procedures
17. maintain quality assurance or other records in line with organisational requirements

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. the law as it affects printing: copyright and ownership of images, image requirements, data protection
  2. hazards and risks in your own job, their assessment and the action to take to deal with them
  3. manufacturers' and suppliers' health and safety requirements relevant to your job
  4. how to safely handle customer material
  5. computer system security and virus protection
  6. how to communicate with colleagues and customers
  7. when to communicate with originators or suppliers of digital artwork and colleagues
  8. workplace objectives, priorities, standards and procedures
  9. the identification and assessment of printing options
  10. the stages in the printing process from pre press to printed product
  11. the relationship between resource usage and profitability
  12. the set-up of preflighting software
  13. the operation of preflighting software
  14. the principles of layout, imposition, step for web presses and including the use and placement of marks and control guides
  15. the principles of the printing processes for which digital artwork files are intended
  16. the relationship between image size, file size and resolution
  17. font management
  18. colour management
  19. RGB versus CMYK and other colour models
  20. file management procedures
  21. the international standards and specifications for digital files
  22. the causes and treatment of common faults
  23. file conversion techniques
  24. the common reasons for missing fonts and images
  25. knockout versus overprinting
  26. recording and reporting procedures
  27. the main features of quality assurance and quality control systems
  28. the purpose and benefits of preflighting including the identification of layers, clipping paths, transparencies and colour spaces
  29. the organisational expectations of preflighting
  30. the principles of preflighting and how to operate preflight software
  31. how to interpret preflight reports


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

31 Jan 2024





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Printers, Printing Machine Minders and Assistants, Printing Trades

SOC Code



digital, print, pre press, pre-flight, files, print ready, native