Hickeys are unintentional, small imperfections or spots that appear on the printed material. They are often caused by particles of dust, lint, or dried ink obstructing the smooth transfer of ink from the plate (or blanket) to the paper.




  1. Commercial Printing: Hickeys can appear on any printed materials such as brochures, flyers, or book pages, particularly in large-volume print runs where small debris might accumulate in the press.
  2. Newspaper Printing: Due to the high-speed nature and volume of newspaper printing, hickeys are a common issue, appearing as small dots or rings that disrupt the print quality.
  3. Offset Printing: This method is especially prone to hickeys because it involves multiple rollers and plates which can gather debris over time, affecting the final output.


  • Regular Maintenance: Frequent and thorough cleaning of printing presses is essential to minimize the occurrence of hickeys. This includes cleaning the plates, blankets, and rollers to ensure they are free of dust and debris.
  • Quality of Materials: Use high-quality paper and inks to reduce the likelihood of hickeys. Poor-quality paper is more prone to shedding fibers that can cause these imperfections.
  • Press Setup: Proper setup and adjustment of the printing press can reduce the risk of hickeys. Ensuring that the pressure settings between rollers and plates are correct can help minimize spots.
  • Inspection Protocols: Implementing strict inspection protocols can help detect hickeys early in the printing process. This allows for immediate corrective actions, such as cleaning the press or adjusting the paper feed to prevent further imperfections.
  • Operator Training: Ensuring that press operators are well-trained in spotting and resolving issues like hickeys can greatly reduce their frequency and impact on print quality.

Learn more about common print imperfections at AP&B. Contact us today!