A Guide to Printing

OPEN LAB HOURS: Mon & Wed 2-7pm


What is Risograph printing? The Risograph Printer or “RISO” works by transferring an image onto a thin stencil, called a master. This printing process is similar to screen-printing in the sense that ink is pushed through a prepared stencil. Once a master is made, it is applied to a drum, which holds the ink tubes.

IMG_3647The Risograph uses a soy-based ink similar to the ink used to print newspapers. Like newspaper inks, Risograph inks never fully dry, so a Risograph print will smudge slightly if you touch it. For this reason, the Risograph can only print on uncoated papers.


Our risograph, the MZ1090, holds two ink drums, making it possible to print two ink colors at one time. The ink drums are housed inside a machine that looks and works like a traditional photocopier. As a result, the Risograph can print at a very high speed, making it ideal for printing in large quantities.



Minimum paper size (1-color): 100 mm × 148 mm (3 15/16″ × 5 13/16″) Minimum paper size (2-color): 182 mm × 257 mm (7 3/16″ × 10 1/8″) Maximum paper size: 320 mm × 432 mm (12 9/16″ × 17″)

Paper weight: 46 g/m2 to 210 g/m2 (13-lb bond to 110-lb index)

*For the best results format your design on tabloid or letter sized paper when possible.


Riso inks come in pre-mixed colors not available for CMYK process printers (like a color laserjet or a color ink jet). Riso inks can be compared to spot color inks in traditional commercial offset printing. It is possible to simulate full-color CMYK printing with the Risograph, but the results will not be comparable to traditional CMYK processes.

When setting up digital files for Riso printing, set up all your inks as spot color inks. Below are Pantone ink color equivalents to the Riso inks we stock (you can find them in the Pantone Solid Uncoated swatch in InDesign or Illustrator.

Black: PANTONE Black

Bright Red: PANTONE 185 U

Fluorescent Pink: PANTONE 806 U

Blue: PANTONE 3005 U

Metallic Gold: PANTONE 872 U

Green: PANTONE 354 U

Yellow: Pantone Yellow U

If you want the colors in your file to overprint, make sure you set that up in the Attributes palette in InDesign or Illustrator! By default, InDesign and Illustrator do not overprint inks.



Registration will not be perfect (but that’s ok! Its part of the charm of a Risograph print!) On a risograph, generally the shift tolerance in registration is between 0-2mm. Registration for two-color prints will be tighter than prints with more than two colors because our Riso can print two colors in a single pass. 3-4 color jobs require a second pass through the printer. If you have a job that requires more than two colors, consult with the lab assistant before designing your project.