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Published on March 26th, 2014 | by Jake Butler

10 Essential Pieces Of Stationery Needed For Dissertation Success


There’s no doubt that your dissertation will be one of the biggest projects (and achievements) of your time at uni and making sure you get it right is essential.

As with most work at university, preparation is the key to success. And a wise man once said “if you fail to prepare you should prepare to fail”.

Part of this all important preparation is making sure that you have the right tools at hand to help you save time and stay organised along every step of the way.

Obviously different subjects will have different needs (eg. Design based degrees may require specialised stationery such as protractors and compasses) but Jake from the student website Save the Student is here to give you a quick low down on the key pieces of stationery that every student should have in order to reach for those top marks.

Notebook/Paper pad

We may have moved into the age of computers and the internet but where would most students be without their faithful notebook or pad of paper?

It’s the perfect piece of kit for jotting down quick ideas, constructing spider diagrams and even having a little doodle from time to time to get those creative juices flowing.

There’s a wide range of sizes and types such as with or without lines so it’s down to what you prefer.

Ball point pen

As with a notebook, sometimes the old ways are the best and you can’t beat a good old pen and paper for jotting down your ideas and notes while you work on your computer.

It may sound obvious but a decent ball point pen is an essential. They allow you to write quicker and cleaner and you don’t want ink running everywhere at a time of crisis so invest well.


Scientific studies have shown that using colours can help us to remember certain facts, figures and important pieces of information.

A good selection of coloured highlighters can be used to mark out key points in your notes or quotes in your textbooks.

Try mixing up the colours so that you can flick through your notes quickly. For example, pink could mean important quotes whereas yellow could be key figures.

Lever arch Folder (+ Hole punch)

Nobody wants to spend hours looking for an important piece of paper in between a huge pile of lecture and research notes on the floor.

Organisation is key to your success and storing all of your most important pieces of research in a lever arch folder means you can find vital pieces of paper in a jiffy, allowing you more time to handle other tasks.

How you choose to order the pages in your folder is up to you!

USB Drive

Gone are the days of lugging a whole backpack of papers to and from the library. Most students will have the majority of their dissertation on their computer.

A USB drive is not only important for taking your files between computers but also for creating those important backups.

There’s nothing worse than your computer crashing mid-sentence and then realising that unless you can recover the files you’re up a creek without a paddle.

Just make sure you back up your work as much as possible.

Letter trays

Letter trays are another great way to keep everything in order.

It’s up to you how you use them but a good suggestion is to put all of the notes that you’re yet to read on top and then when you’ve read and highlighted them move them into the bottom tray.

Visualisation is important when you’re working on a big project too, so having separate trays can give you an idea of how much you still have to do. The feeling of seeing those paper piles get smaller and smaller is a great motivational tool.

Post-it notes

If this list was in order of importance, post-it notes would be pretty near the top. They are extremely essential to dissertation success.

Use them as bookmarks or to add notes to library books (saves you writing all over them).

As with highlighters, if you can track down a few different colours it can help you to know what you’re looking for in seconds.

The uses for them really are endless. You might even want to stick a couple to your computer with important reminders or even motivational messages to keep you going.

Paper Clips

In a toss-up between paper clips and a stapler, the clips win every time. The fact that they aren’t as permanent is a big plus.

It almost goes without saying that they’re useful for clipping pieces of paper together…

If you like you can use them to clip together notes for each different chapter.

Pencil & rubber

A ball point pen is great but one of the main drawbacks is that any notes you make are permanent. This means potentially ruining text books or having to chuck away incorrect notes.

If you have something in mind that you want to double check later it might be worth writing it down in pencil and them coming back to it later to rub out if needed.

You can also use a trusty pencil and rubber for sketching out diagrams.

Printer (+ ink & paper)

Last but not least a printer is probably the most expensive piece of kit you’re going to need.

Most students might think that printing at the library should cover it but having a printer at home with a full stack of A4 paper in it can come in handy.

You can print off test pages, notes that you’ve written on your computer (as opposed to on your pad and paper), diagrams, images you want to annotate and more.

So, there you have it. Before you set down to complete your dissertation make sure you have all of the above (as well as anything else you need) prepared and it should take out most of the stress involved with the research and writing process.


Posted by Jake Butler – Save the Student

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