Administered by:
University of Cambridge
Early history Oxford University Press
The university became involved in the print trade around 1480, and grew into a major printer of Bibles, prayer books, and scholarly works. OUP took on the project that became the Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th century, and expanded to meet the ever-rising costs of the work. As a result, the last hundred years has seen Oxford publish children's books, school text books, music, journals, the World's Classics series, and a range of English language teaching texts. Moves into international markets led to OUP opening its own offices outside the United Kingdom, beginning with New York City in 1896. With the advent of computer technology and increasingly harsh trading conditions, the Press's printing house at Oxford was closed in 1989, and its former paper mill at Wolvercote was demolished in 2004. By contracting out its printing and binding operations, the modern OUP publishes some 6,000 new titles around the world each year.

The first printer associated with Oxford University was Theoderic Rood. A business associate of William Caxton, Rood seems to have brought his own wooden printing press to Oxford from Cologne as a speculative venture, and to have worked in the city between around 1480 and 1483. The first book printed in Oxford, in 1478, an edition of Rufinus's Expositio in symbolum apostolorum, was printed by another, anonymous, printer. Famously, this was mis-dated in Roman numerals as "1468", thus apparently pre-dating Caxton. Rood's printing included John Ankywyll's Compendium totius grammaticae, which set new standards for teaching of Latin grammar.

After Rood, printing connected with the university remained sporadic for over half a century. Records or surviving work are few, and Oxford did not put its printing on a firm footing until the 1580s; this succeeded the efforts of Cambridge University, which had obtained a licence for its press in 1534. In response to constraints on printing outside London imposed by the Crown and the Stationers' Company, Oxford petitioned Elizabeth I of England for the formal right to operate a press at the university. The chancellor, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, pleaded Oxford's case. Some royal assent was obtained, since the printer Joseph Barnes began work, and a decree of Star Chamber noted the legal existence of a press at "the universitie of Oxforde" in 1586.