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How to format large documents for printing

Don’t be caught out with last minute problems when preparing your Master’s dissertation or thesis for printing. Below are some tips on how to avoid this.


  • Work in A4 format from the start. (US Letter is an American paper size.)
  • Bear in mind as you work whether the document will be printed on one or both sides of the page. This will help you to consider what should appear on the left and right pages.
  • Use the highest resolution available for illustrations and graphics.
  • Convert the document to PDF format when uploading to the print ordering portal. 
  • Proof and edit the document thoroughly before converting it to PDF format, and use the same computer for this and the conversion. 
  • Give the file a simple name, such as Surname_Master.pdf. 

File format, settings and file conversion

  • If you convert a Word file to PDF format on a computer other than the one you normally use, you need to check the file in Word carefully on the new computer before converting to PDF because the layout (appearance) of the file can be different on different computers.
  • Is the resolution poorer and the page sizing different in PDF than it was in the Word file? Do not use the PDF conversion tab in the Word toolbar, instead use "Ctrl + P", and print to PDF.
  • If you use Acrobat Distiller, do not use "Standard". This automatically leads to a poorer resolution and in most cases conversion to US Letter format instead of our European A4 standard. See suggestions for settings in Acrobat Distiller (PDF).
  • Make sure the margins are wide enough. This prevents elements of the book pages from getting too close to the edges. There is no fixed template for margin width, but be aware that binding takes up about 2-3 mm. If you want the left and right margin to appear the same, you need to make the left margin slightly wider. You can change the settings in Word under File > Print.

Two-sided printing

  • The University Print Centre is certified under the Swan ecolabel and as such recommends two-sided printing. Note that two-sided printing gives a more professional and “book-like” appearance.

Page numbering

  • Books are paginated with odd numbers on the right page and even numbers on the left.
  • You can also opt to have page numbers positioned centrally on a page.
  • If you want all page numbers to appear in the corner of the page (where you turn the page) you must be careful to alternate right and left numbering. Is this proves to be difficult, we recommend centring the numbers at the top or bottom of the page.
  • If you want a particular element of the document to appear on a front page (right side), insert a blank page before the start of the relevant element. This is normally done from the front page to chapter 1 and from the first element/section after the last chapter to the end of the file.

Colophon page

  • In doctoral theses, page 2 normally contains printing and copyright information.
  • The University Print Centre can create the colophon page if the thesis is not written using a template that already contains a colophon page.

Layout of doctoral thesis

  • Page 1: The title page should be on the right side, without any visible page number.
  • Page 2: The colophon page should be on the left side. This page can be left blank as the University Print Centre will create this page.
  • Page 3: Dedications, quotes etc. should be on the right side, with a blank reverse page.
  • The table of contents should be on the right side, with a blank reverse page.
  • The preface and introduction should be on the right side. Where this texts ends on a right page, keep the reverse side blank.
  • Start the text of the thesis on the right side. Where this text ends on a right page, keep the reverse side blank.
  • The index and bibliography should start on the right side. Where this text ends on a right page, keep the reverse side blank.
  • Any appendices should start on the right side.

Layout and design assistance

  • The University Print Centre can assist with the layout and design of documents to be printed.
  • The hourly rate for layout work is NOK 350 (excluding VAT).
  • Small jobs often take less than an hour. Large jobs from conception to printing can take several hours, or the best part of a working day.

Image resolution

  • Colour images should have a resolution of 300 dpi, and must use the CMYK colour model. 
  • Greyscale images should have a resolution of 600 dpi.
Published Feb. 22, 2016 1:21 PM - Last modified Feb. 22, 2016 1:21 PM