Binding Research Papers

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Your thesis has to be formatted and bound properly before it can be submitted for assessment. This guidance explains the correct format and provides details for recognised printers and binders.

This information is for research students submitting a thesis for assessment. It tells you how to:

There are different requirements for students of fine arts, design, architecture or town planning.

Find out more about these requirements

Format your thesis

UCL theses should be submitted in a specific format. 


Your thesis must be presented in a permanent and legible form in print. We would recommend using Arial or Helvetica fonts, at a size of no less than 10.

Illustrations should be permanently mounted on A4 size paper and bound in with the thesis; you may not use sellotape or similar materials.


A4 size paper (210 x 297 mm) should be used. Plain white paper must be used, of good quality and of sufficient opacity for normal reading. Both sides of the paper may be used.


Both sides of the paper may be used.

Margins at the binding edge must not be less than 40 mm (1.5 inches) and other margins not less than 20 mm (.75 inches). Double or one-and-a-half spacing should be used in typescripts, except for indented quotations or footnotes where single spacing may be used.


All pages must be numbered in one continuous sequence, i.e. from the title page of the first volume to the last page of type, in Arabic numerals from 1 onwards. This sequence must include everything bound in the volume, including maps, diagrams, blank pages, etc. Any material which cannot be bound in with the text must be placed in a pocket inside or attached to the back cover or in a rigid container similar in format to the bound thesis (see Illustrative material).

Title page

The title page must bear the following:

  • the officially-approved title of the thesis
  • the candidates full name as registered
  • the institution name 'UCL'
  • the degree for which the thesis is submitted

The title page should be followed by a signed declaration that the work presented in the thesis is the candidate’s own e.g.

‘I, [full name] confirm that the work presented in this thesis is my own. Where information has been derived from other sources, I confirm that this has been indicated in the thesis.'


The signed declaration should be followed by an abstract consisting of no more than 300 words.

Table of contents

In each copy of the thesis the abstract should be followed by a full table of contents (including any material not bound in) and a list of tables, photographs and any other materials. 

Illustrative material

Illustrative material may be submitted on a CD-ROM. If you wish to submit material in any other form, your supervisor must contact Research Degrees well in advance of submission of the thesis.

Any material which cannot be bound in with the text must be placed either in a pocket inside or attached to the back cover or in a rigid container similar in format to the bound thesis. If it is separate from the bound volume it must be clearly labelled with the same information as on the title page. Each copy of the thesis submitted must be accompanied by a full set of this material.

Bind your thesis

Theses have to be robust enough to withstand the examination process and be easily identified. They will need to have your name on the spine to distinguish them.

All theses (whether soft or hard-bound) must:

  • be covered in medium blue cloth (e.g. water resistant material) 
  • be lettered in gold up the spine with degree, year, name and initials in the same form as UCL records, with letters 16 or 18 point (.25 inch) - thesis submitted for examination in November and December should have the following year lettered on the spine
  • have no lettering on front cover of thesis
  • have the spine text inverted if the front cover is facing up

Hard-bound theses must have the pages sown in (not punched) and soft-bound theses should have the pages glued in. Theses submitted in any other form of binding, including ring binding, will not be accepted.

You are responsible for making sure that your thesis is correctly bound by the company you select.

Find local binders and printers

Submit your thesis

Viva copies

In the first instance you should submit 2 soft-bound copies of your thesis to the Student Centre.

Find out more about the Student Centre

Your examination entry form must be received and logged by Research Degrees before you submit your thesis.

Find out more about examination entry

Final copies

A soft bound copy should be submitted to the Student Centre.

Prior to the receipt of your bound copy, you also need to deposit an electronic copy of your final thesis (and a completed E-Thesis Deposit Agreement form) via UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS). Please ensure that you remove, or blank out, all personal identifiers such as signatures, addresses and telephone numbers from the e-thesis. Any photographs that you have taken should not show identifiable individuals without their permission and any you have taken of children should mask their faces.

Find out more about depositing an electronic copy of your thesis

Your award will be noted once all the requirements of your degree have been received, this includes the final copies of your thesis and any associated forms. If you have any outstanding debts these must also be cleared. 

Submitting as a Non-Registered Student

If you do not submit your thesis by the end of your period of Completing Research Status, your registration as a student will end at that point. Your supervisor will then need to apply for permission for you to submit your thesis in writing to the Research Degrees section, at least 3 weeks before your expected submission date.


If you need to re-submit you must:

  • submit a new examination entry form to the Research Degrees office at least 2 weeks prior to the expected submission of the thesis
  • submit 2 soft-bound copies of your thesis to the Student Centre which will then be despatched to the examiners

Find out more about examination entry

Find a printer and binder

The companies listed below offer a thesis binding service. It’s your responsibility to make sure that the binding is carried out to the standards UCL expects and that the company has the correct delivery instructions for the thesis if they undertake delivery for you.

In recent years, the image quality of digital printing has been increasing, almost equivalent to that of offset printing. In the printing industry, digital printing systems capable of meeting the needs of small lot, short delivery, and variable printing have been increasingly introduced.

While offset printing is designed to print a large volume of the same page, digital printing is capable of repeating a set of printing processes for each copy; one copy of a book can be completed if the printed sheets of paper are bound as a postprocessing step. Konica Minolta established an inline system that enables integrated automatic processing from receipt of data to binding, by coordinating printing and binding processes in a digital printing system.

Conventional systems are capable of binding including saddle binding, stitch binding, and punching. However, there has been a growing demand for a binding system that achieves a superb finish equivalent to that of magazines and books available at bookstores.

The conventional saddle-stitch binding function built into MFPs etc., is referred to as the leaf gathering method. Specifically, the center of sheets of paper is stapled before the paper is folded in half. For this reason, in thick booklets (with a large number of pages), the spine becomes round, and booklets open too easily.

For this reason, the saddle stitching method which is used in commercial binding is employed to achieve a superb, functional finish with a sharp fold.

In the general saddle stitching process, the paper folding process is performed separately, requiring a long production line ranging from a few meters to dozens of meters. Konica Minolta developed a new method to reduce the size of this process to such an extent that it could be built into a digital printing system. Specifically, the folding process is directly connected with the saddle stitching process: a crease is created in the center of a paper sheet, and the sheet is allowed to glide onto a saddle without changing its form.

Konica Minolta achieved case binding (glue binding) of up to 300 sheets and 30 mm in thickness in a digital printing system.

Digital printing is characterized by variable printing, i.e. the content is changed for each copy as in the case of address printing. Variable binding is an advanced feature that is designed to change the page layout and thickness of the booklet for each copy. Binding can be continuously performed by measuring the thickness of each booklet (resolution: 0.1 mm) and pasting the cover. The system can be expanded to arrange paper sheets (both text and cover) in two or more settings, or to arrange paper sheets of different sizes. Once the settings are completed, A4 binding can be performed after B5 binding, for example.

In the general case binding process, glue is applied to the spine area of a stack of text paper sheets before the stack is wrapped with a cover; in the final process, the stack is cut on three sides (except for the spine) for finishing. Konica Minolta’s high-precision paper alignment technology eliminated the need for cutting on three sides, achieving superb binding that requires cutting of the cover only and therefore significantly reduces waste paper. In the case of an A4 booklet of 100 sheets (thickness: 8 mm), the amount of waste paper is 1/60 of that of the conventional process.

Konica Minolta’s digital printing systems meet the new needs of POD and office printing by (i) increasing the quality of printed matter derived from small lot variable printing to a level close to commercial binding and (ii) offering full-fledged binding solutions for personal teaching materials at cram schools and prep schools, corporate financial statements, and manuals, among others.

In binding, paper alignment is a critical factor. If paper is not aligned properly, a superior finish cannot be ensured. In case binding, if the surface on which glue is applied is not aligned, some of the pages may not be glued, resulting in missing pages.

Konica Minolta applied its high-precision paper handling technology, which has been refined in many years of copier development operations etc., to binding technology that is among the highest in the industry.

Horizontal alignment (in the length direction of booklets)

Vertical alignment (in the width direction of booklets)

Thickness alignment (pressing)

Konica Minolta achieved case binding with superb finish and perfectly aligned edges, through an alignment operation coordinated in all the directions (vertical, horizontal, and thickness). Konica Minolta’s case binding solution ensures that each sheet of paper is properly glued on its edge, to produce robust booklets.

Index of each product technology

As the number of pages increases, the center of the paper stack sags, causing the stack of paper to be curved, resulting in stitch misalignment. The horizontal alignment plates open and close every time a sheet of paper is fed, to align the paper stack. Cushioning materials are added on the upper part of the horizontal alignment plates to make the plates tilt inwards. Because horizontal alignment plates are made from elastic PET sheets, force is evenly applied to the paper stack from both sides. The center of the paper stack can be fixed even if the curve changes in varying degrees.

In a mechanism to align the paper stack in the vertical direction, a paper pressure arm is used to allow sheets of paper to stack closely to each other. The top and bottom of the paper stack are aligned by clamping sheets of paper with the vertical alignment plate and the base plate.

If the paper stack is directly compressed and stitched while air is still trapped between sheets of paper, the stack may be significantly misaligned. For this reason, the paper stack is clamped many times in the stacking process to remove trapped air.

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