Because a dissertation represents a significant scholarly achievement, you'll want to preserve it. Universities increasingly require electronic documents for official submissions, but most still offer binding options, for personal or departmental copies, as well as for the campus library. To bind the dissertation, first print it properly on high-quality paper, then consult your university’s guidelines.

Formatting the Dissertation

The most stringent requirements for dissertation formatting involve the layout and faculty-approval documentation. Some schools, however, do require certain papers; Drexel University, for instance, insists on 100 percent cotton paper. Such high-quality paper is advisable, whether required or not, because it will last longer. The Library of Congress’ guide to book preservation explains that the long fibers of cotton-based paper resist the aging effects of acid and pollution better than the shorter fibers of wood-based paper, which is the base for less expensive, everyday papers. You should use special margins for printing, as well. Standard academic margins are 1 inch on all sides for unbound documents, as at the University of California Berkeley. For bound copies, however, widen the left margin to leave room for the binding. Princeton University's Mudd Manuscript Library requires a left margin of 1.5 inches.

Binding the Dissertation

You will not normally bind the dissertation yourself. Some schools, like the University of California Berkeley and Penn State University, offer onsite binderies. Other schools, like Drexel and the University of New Hampshire, contract with publishing firm ProQuest for binding services. Prices vary, depending on the style of cover you choose, whether you want glue or stitched binding and how decorative you want the cover. Your graduate office will have the specifics on what options and prices are available and how long the binding process takes.

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