How to Use Common Press

Main content

Accessing Common Press

Common Press exists to support teaching and learning across the University of Pennsylvania, and to facilitate collaboration across the university and beyond. Common Press is available to members of the University of Pennsylvania community (students, faculty, and staff), and occasionally the wider community, in several ways.


Penn students, faculty, and staff can complete an Intro to Letterpress Press Training workshop as a prerequisite for using Independent Project or Open Studio times. See our Events Calendar to register.

Registration is encouraged for Open Studio times. Common Press makes inks, stock paper, and clean up supplies available free of charge. For custom papers, please bring your own.


Common Press provides curricular support by hosting tours, demonstrations, and workshops for Penn courses - both in person and online. If you are interested in bringing a class to Common Press, please submit a Class Visit Form to begin a discussion about how we might support your course. We offer in-person and virtual tours of the letterpress studio, demonstrations of typesetting and printing, and hands-on bookbinding workshops. 

For a tour, press, training, or workshop for a small group, please complete our Request Form.


Workshops in print, book making, and paper arts, as well as hands-on community printing events and events with guest artists, are listed throughout the year on our Event Calendar, or sign up for our mailing list to receive periodic updates.


Items available for student borrowing include two portable Provisional Presses, Linoleum Block Carving Kits, and Bookbinding Tool Kits. Learn more about our offerings or request a kit.


The letterpress equipment in our studio is designed for printing movable type made from metal and wood, but we can also print anything mounted to a level type-high (.918"). Here are some things we can print from:

  • Photopolymer plates from a digital file
  • Linoleum or wood block, mounted to .75" to .918" high
  • Paper collage
  • Cut vinyl
  • Laser cut plexiglas or wood
  • 3D printed blocks
  • P22 Blocks
  • Laser cut or hand cut chipboard


Paper. Text weight and cardstock. Cotton paper takes a great impression. Avoid highly textured paper. Paper with chunky plant materials damage type.

Some fabrics may be printed on the R. Hoe Company Hand Press.

The Press maintains a collection of paper sample books for reference.

commonpress access image
commonpress access image