How to Insert the Ribbon Into an IBM Selectric II Typewriter

by John DeMerceau; Updated September 26, 2017

While computers and printers have replaced the typewriter for most business applications, some business offices maintain a typewriter for filling out carbon forms and other nonstandard tasks that are difficult to perform with a computer. The IBM Selectric II was a classic business typewriter made by IBM during the mid-to-late 1970s. It is designed to accept cartridge ribbons that are easy to remove and replace. At the time of publication, you can still obtain cartridges for IBM Selectric II typewriters that are manufactured by IBM/Lexmark.

Removing an Old Ribbon

Step 1

Move the typewriter carriage to the center of the typewriter and turn the power off.

Step 2

Lift the typewriter cover.

Step 3

Move the ribbon load lever from the bottom right of the ribbon cartridge holder assembly to the left until it snaps against the stop near the center of the holder assembly.

Step 4

Hold the ribbon cartridge at the front corners and pull it loose from the assembly. Dispose of the old cartridge.

Installing the New Cartridge

Step 1

Make sure the typewriter power is off and that the loading lever at the bottom of the cartridge holder assembly is in the center loading position.

Step 2

Position the cartridge gently in the cartridge holder so that the uninked leader portion of the ribbon is threaded outside the left ribbon guidepost and the two ribbon hook guides that are located to the left and right of the daisy wheel type element.

Step 3

Fit the ribbon cartridge securely between the two spring clips on each side of the ribbon cartridge holder and then press down hard so the cartridge is firmly in place.

Step 4

Thread the leader through the open hooks of the guides that are located to the left and right of the daisy wheel type element.

Step 5

Turn the knob on the top-right corner of the ribbon cartridge counterclockwise until you see that the leader is past the right ribbon hook guide so that black ribbon appears between the two ribbon hook guides.

Step 6

Move the loading lever from the center loading position to the right until it stops.

Step 7

Close the cover. Turn the power switch back on to use the typewriter.

About the Author

John DeMerceau is an American expatriate entrepreneur, marketing analyst and Web developer. He now lives and works in southeast Asia, where he creates websites and branding/marketing reports for international clients. DeMerceau graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in history.