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Thesis Printing

This document describes how to print your thesis using the self-publishing service Lulu.com instead of the ProQuest option offered by the University. The advantages of doing this are many:

  • The print quality is much higher
  • Copies are significantly cheaper (about 1/3 the cost)
  • Copies are printed on-demand
  • You can choose to make your dissertation a private project (only you can order copies) or to allow anyone to purchase copies.
The disadvantages are:

  • Formatting your PDF so that it will print correctly can be tricky
Please feel free to email Matt Post if you have any questions.

The steps are easy: upload your PDF to lulu, optionally design a cover using a layout program like Apple Pages or Adobe Illustrator (using the dimensions they provide you), and order it.

I had my copy reduced from the 8.5" x 11" it was designed for to a 6" x 9" trade copy. I did this using Mac OS X (10.6 Snow Leopard) to reduce the file size. This resulted in embedded fonts that were not available, and when I got my first copy, there were many pages with unprintable mathematical symbols replaced by a dot.

To fix this, I followed these steps. This should ensure that you have the fonts properly embedded. Note that in their documentation, Lulu is fairly explicit that you need to fully embed fonts, as opposed to subset-embedding them. I was not able to do this due to licensing restrictions, but the resulting book printed just fine.

Here are the steps I used to produce a print-quality PDF:

  1. I used xelatex + xdvipdfmx to produce a PDF. Any PDF should work, as the next step (conversion to postscript) takes care of font embedding.
  2. I opened the document in the Mac OS X Preview.app program, and saved it as a postscript file. You might be able to do this from the command line, using, for example, pdf2ps, but I have not tried it.
  3. I uploaded this file to Lulu, after choosing a trade-sized project (6" x 9").
  4. Lulu automatically resized the document.
  5. I downloaded the file they provided and ensured that it opened on a variety of readers on different platforms (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 under a Mac, Adobe Reader on Linux, Preview.app on a Mac). Note that this verification step is important: Just because they accept a PDF, does not mean it will print correctly.
  6. I then ordered a copy. Everything came out very nicely, and the print quality is much higher compared to the ProQuest-printed copies I have seen.
-- MattPost - 2011-01-03
Topic revision: r1 - 2011-01-03 - MattPost
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