Anna Sloan | This post was originally published July 9, 2012

Well folks, after 6 weeks sitting at home obsessing over it, I can now finally announce that the Document Formerly Known as My Thesis (I’ve started hating this word so much that it’s been banished from my household) is now a complete document. It’s not submitted-submitted yet, but I did have to print up a complete copy on Wednesday to give to my supervisor for final feedback.

Folks have been congratulating me on this but to be honest the accomplishment of it hasn’t really sunk in. It doesn’t feel like an accomplishment because all I can think about is everything that’s still wrong with it and that I still need to try and fix.

Or in some cases, not bother to fix, because frankly the Document can’t be everything to all people. All it can do is make a clear and cogent argument. Or so I keep telling myself.

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to share what I’ve learned in the past few weeks about how one’s Document should look, how to print it etc., so that’s what this post is actually about!

First of all, here is an easy-to-read description of what your Document should include and how it should look, according to our good friends at the Graduate School (who, by the way, are the Deciders of Such Things). They also describe it in more detail on a PDF, which you can view here (worth looking at, too, if you are wondering about the process of choosing examiners, having a viva etc.)

Both of these can tell you about all the things that need to go at the front (title page, abstract, word count, etc….), how wide the margins should be, required length, etc etc. After I had gotten fed up with writing each day during my self-imposed exile, I would work on all these formatting issues. This turned out to be fairly time-consuming but it was also nice to have a break from writing while still feeling productive.

Finally it came time to print. I had been working 14-hour days for the week or so before the deadline (my supervisor’s, not the university’s) and was even still finishing my conclusion the night before. Whew.

Here’s what I’ve learned about printing big documents, specifically about the cheapest and easiest options. Bear in mind that I haven’t had to deal with bindings yet at this stage, so that might be a completely different ballgame (which I may well write about when I come to it).

Anyway, so far as I figure it there are 3 options for Warwick postgrads (assuming you don’t own a printer, although even if you do, it’s probably easier to get such a big document done elsewhere).

(1) Print it ‘manually’ using printer credits and a Library printer

(2) Use Warwick Print (the university’s print shop, located in Westwood campus)

(3) Use an independent company

My Document as it stands is 233 pages (which is shorter than it will be once I adjust the margins for a final draft; I was just trying to save some paper/money), so that’s how I’ll calculate it here.

When I did the math, Option 1 (using a Library printer) came to 13.98 (at 06 per page). That didn’t seem too bad but I was a little worried about the printer running out of paper or ink in the middle of the job and then it being a huge hassle (and possibly costing more money). Also I was feeling so exhausted and fed up that the idea of having to deal with this kind of problem made me want to cry.

Option 2 (using Warwick Print) was 23, which seemed pretty steep. Plus it would take them up to 4 hours (or overnight if you send it to them late in the day).

As to Option 3, I called up my local Mail Boxes Etc. in Leamington Spa to inquire. They said they could do it immediately – as soon as I emailed them the file – and that it would cost 10 per double-sided page (again, I was trying to save some paper/money; you have to print single-sided for the final draft). So this came out to 11.65. Obviously I was sold. They were fantastic and I would totally recommend them if you live in Leam (website here), or another independent print shop if you’re somewhere else.

Does anyone else have any experiences to share about this?

Photo Credit: “Thesis Boy” by Moojos/ Creative Commons Licence