Olympia Typewriter & Ribbon Instructions

by Jean Asta; Updated September 26, 2017
Olympia typewriters came with imperfect translations of German instructions.

If you own an original Olympia typewriter, you probably know you're using a German machine, but if not, the user manual will confirm it. The German typewriter company produced models used in the 1950s and 1960s, and the user manuals that came with them were imperfect examples of translation. Even the names of the machines could cause confusion for English speakers; the SG, SM and SF designations are all abbreviations for German words that translate roughly to "big typewriter," "medium-sized typewriter" and "flat typewriter" respectively.

General Operating Instructions

Step 1

Pull the carriage release lever and move the carriage to the center position. Locate the paper release lever on the right hand side of the carriage and press it. Insert a piece of paper between the paper table and the platen and turn the platen knob to adjust the paper position to the correct height behind the paper guide.

Step 2

Squeeze the margin stops located on the paper guide and move them to the desired position for the left and right margins.

Step 3

Use the line space indicator lever, usually located on the left hand side of the carriage, to set the line spacing. Move the lever to single, 1.5 or double spacing. Placing the line space indicator to the rear position marked with a "." allows you to move the platen freely to a desired location.

Step 4

Press the touch adjuster key, if included on your model, located on the lower left hand side of the keyboard to adjust the strike force needed to press the typewriter keys.

Ribbon Instructions

Step 1

Move the ribbon switch on the right-hand side of the keyboard to the desired color: black, red or white. Ribbon advance and return are automatic.

Step 2

Invert the ribbon spool when the first half has run out to use both the upper and lower halves of a single color ribbon. Follow the exact instructions for your Olympia model for inverting the ribbon.

Step 3

Lift off the machine's front cover. Wind the worn ribbon onto the spools. Pull the spool catch lever on the edge of the ribbon spool. Free the ribbon from behind the ribbon guide and ribbon hook. Remove the old spool. Insert a new spool onto the spindle. Press down the "Shift lock" key and pull the ribbon through the guide and ribbon hook. Release the "Shift lock" key to use the new ribbon.


  • Refer to the user manual for your Olympia typewriter for specific instructions on using the typewriter and typewriter ribbon.

About the Author

Jean Asta has been a freelance writer for domestic and international clients since 2005. She also acts as a training consultant to businesses and nonprofit organizations in the southeast United States. Asta holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, both from the University of Georgia.

Photo Credits

  • schreibmaschine image by Ewe Degiampietro from Fotolia.com