How To Change A Typewriter Ribbon

The majority of vintage typewriters use a universal sized typewriter ribbon making it simple, quick and easy to change the typewriter ribbon when you run out of ink.

We have more information about which typewriter ribbon to buy here.

Once you have the new typewriter ribbon you can replace this by following the easy 4 step guide below:

How to replace a typewriter ribbon with a new universal ribbon:

Step one:

Remove the top cover of the typewriter to expose the ribbon spools. Press the Shift Lock key and then push two central keys together so that the type bars stand up and the ribbon carrier is raised. Unhook the ribbon from the ribbon carrier.

Step two:

Slip the ribbon out of the ribbon guides on either side of the spools. Lift off both spools.

Step three:

Insert new spools. Make sure the black ink is above the red ink and that the ribbon is coming around the spools. See image below.

Step four:

Feed the ribbon through the small guides at the sides of the spools and through the ribbon carrier. Flick the key hammers back down and disengage the shift lock. Replace the top cover of the typewriter.

how to change a typewriter ribbon
Make sure to put the new ribbon in the correct way..

Replacing new typewriter ribbon on original spools

If your typewriter uses smaller spools you can follow the simple steps below to wind a universal ribbon onto the original spools:

Step 1 – Remove the old ribbon from the original spools

Carefully lift the original ribbon spools out of your machine and unwind the ribbon off them. Be careful to keep any clips that may hold the ribbon onto the spools or any screws that may hold the spools onto the typewriter. Some ribbons are held in place on the spool using a clip, while others are attached by a spike.

Once the spools are both empty you are ready to install the new ribbon.


Step 2 – Installing new ribbon

For this job, it is best to use some rubber gloves. Winding ribbon soaked in ink can be pretty messy!

Remove one end of the ribbon from the new spools and unhook it from the spool. You might find it easier to cut the ribbon off as close to the spool as possible.

Attach the end of the new ribbon onto the spike of one of the old empty spools or clip the ribbon onto one of the old empty spools as necessary. Notice the direction of the spike, because you will be winding the ribbon onto the old spool in the opposite direction. (Otherwise the ribbon will come loose).

Step 3 – Filling the Spools

Carefully wind the new ribbon onto the old spool while unraveling it from the new spool. This takes a little practice and you may find it easiest to use a pencil inserted into the spool hole to spin the spool easier. Make sure that the ribbon is flat and not twisted.

Allowing the spools to roll like wheels (so lightly hold the middle of the spools only) this will unravel the new ribbon from the full spool.

Keep doing this until all the new ribbon is wound onto your old spool. When you have finished the once full new spool should now be empty and showing its spike or clip. Cut the ribbon off the spike of the now empty new spool and attach it to the spike on remaining empty old spool.

Replace the original spools with the new ribbon back into the typewriter and start typing again with fresh ink!

Replacement universal ribbons

If you are not sure which ribbon to buy, check our post on The Best Ribbons for your vintage typewriter. Below is a link to universal sized ribbons that are easily purchased on Amazon for a low price.

how to change a typewriter ribbon
Universal Typewriter Ribbons on AMAZON

Add some color to your writing!

We get asked a lot about where to find different color ribbons. Below is a link to this supplier of multi-colour ribbons also on Amazon.

how to change a typewriter ribbon
These fab color ribbons are also available on Amazon
We have Typewriters in Store For Everyone

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The Typewriter Coloring Book features some of the many typewriters we have had in store. We loved creating fantastic coloring pages from real typewriters. The Typewriter Coloring Book has more than 30 coloring pages of fabulous retro and vintage typewriters. We also added interesting facts and information about typewriters for you to enjoy.

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