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Tips and Resources

Discover useful tips and resources that will help you get up to speed on using and maintaining your typewriter.

Remington Portable 3 keyboard

Tips

  • Many typewriters built before the 1960s don’t have a “one” key. Instead, use a lowercase “L.” There are some exceptions to this rule, such as the 1970s Hermes Rocket/Baby with script typeface, which requires the user to use an uppercase "i" instead.

  • Typewriters built before the 1960s don’t often have exclamation marks. Instead, type a period, then backspace, then type a single quotation mark. 

  • Typewriter keyboard layouts vary by region and come in many different formats, depending on time period and language. Keyboard layouts will also not match computer keyboard layouts, so take the time to familiarize yourself with a typewriter's keyboard, especially the location of various symbols and special characters. 

  • Use at least one sheet of backing paper, whether a sheet of printer paper or construction paper (which works well for many mid-size portables and standard machines), for a better type imprint and to protect the platen.

  • For a better typing experience, use a typing pad, which provides sound dampening, cushioning, protection, and grip. See what you have around the house that could do the trick, buy a typing pad online, or use what I like to use when typing: a 14"x14" wool ironing pad and non-slip gripper pads for under the wool pad to prevent it from moving.

  • When not in use, protect your typewriter from damage and dust by keeping it in its case (if it has one), covering it with a dust cover (or a pillowcase or towel), or placing it in a closed cabinet. Clear vinyl dust covers in different sizes are available in the Shop.

  • When possible, open the paper release when not in use to protect the platen and feed rollers from damage in the long-term.

  • To help maintain your typewriter, occasionally wipe the body of the machine with a dry, soft cloth, such as a microfibre cloth, and use canned air to blow out dust inside the machine. 

  • To prevent the type slugs (the metal parts with type on them) from accumulating ink, dry brush the slugs regularly with a toothbrush, picking out letters as needed with a toothpick and using a dry paper towel to wipe up the loosened ink. Place a paper towel or cloth under the slugs before starting to catch any ink debris.

  • If your typewriter has metal spools, you’ll want to reuse them. Your existing spools can be reused by removing the old ribbon and winding a new ribbon on them. New high-quality spooless ribbons in black/red and black are available in the Shop. ​

Resources

There are plenty of online typewriter resources out there, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The Typewriter Database is the central database for typewriter information, including serial number lists for determining the year a typewriter was made and typewriter galleries.

  • The largest typewriter-related Facebook group, Antique Typewriter Collectors, and its sister groups, are invaluable. There are also specific groups for different makes and models of typewriters.

  • Robert Messenger's oz.Typewriter blog is filled with a wealth of information about everything typewriter-related.

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