Risograph guidelines

These guidelines will provide all the information you need to take your idea and turn it into a finished risograph printed project. Any questions? Just email us.

the basics

Paper sizes

Max Print Sizes
The largest paper size we can print on is A3 (297mm x 420mm).

At this size, there will always be a slight border on your prints. For borderless printing, the maximum size is 287mm x 410mm. To achieve this, we print on A3 and trim down, so A3 sized files should still be provided.

Max Book Sizes
For printing books, rather than standard sizes like A4 or A5, we recommend slightly smaller sizes which allow us to trim down your book and leave no borders.

Instead of A4(210 x 297mm) we recommend 195 x 282mm.

Instead of A5(148 x 210mm) we recommend 133 x 195mm. Printing at these sizes or smaller make for the most cost-effective book printing.

File formats

For Prints
Above: Three separate files, and their resulting print. Files should not be sent in colour, but in black and white.

We ask for a separate PDF for each colour layer in your file, and a colour reference as an example for how you want your finished piece to look.

To get the best results, we need high-res files, between 300 and 600dpi. Anything lower than this can make your prints look pixelated.

For Books
we need a packaged InDesign file where different layers have been used for each colour. Images in your file can be placed on separate layers, or as a layered PSD which can be altered to show each colour individually.

Book Finishing and Binding
We can currently offer trimming, creasing, and saddle-stitch (stapled) binding on books. For other binding options, we are happy to print and trim your books to be taken elsewhere or bound yourself.

Please note, fees apply for trimming and binding services


We currently have nine colours for our risograph. These are:

ink densities

The RISO reads your images in greyscale, and the colour of your printed image is determined by what ink drum is inside the machine. We can print the same file in different colours by simply swapping out the drums and making a new stencil.

Above: A black and white photo can be printed in another colour using the original black and white file.
Note: Ink densities by percentage, shown above, show how to achieve various shades of one colour, using one master.


As Riso inks are transparent, inks can be overlaid to create new combinations. This can be an effective way to reduce the number of colours required in your design, and reduce cost.

This also means that printing on coloured paper effects the colour of your inks. For example, printing pink ink on yellow paper will make it appear orange.

special inks

Due to risograph inks having their own colour system and not being limited to regular printing colours, we can print in special tones not normally achievable. Our current special inks include fluorescent pink, fluorescent orange, and metallic gold.

Metallic ink: Our metallic gold has a very different finish to some of our other inks. It has a glittery finish and is opaque, unlike other riso inks, meaning it can be used on coloured papers and still appear as gold.

riso ink quirks

Riso's soy-based inks behave slightly differently to other printing inks. Because of this, risograph printing is prone to certain unique imperfections. These include:

Smudging: Risograph inks are wet when they are printed, which means that printing involves a risk of smudging when handling prints, or when printing multiple layers.

Uneven Coverage: Inks print with a slight texture and can vary in density across large areas of printed ink.

Registration: As layers are printed one colour at a time, passing your paper through the machine each time, it is unlikely that layers will line up perfectly. This is particularly unlikely when printing double sided.

Roller Marks: Pages are fed through the Riso by a series of rubber rollers that sit at the centre of your page. When printing multiple layers, these can pick up residual ink which can mark your prints. We do our best to avoid this by taking into account the order in which we print your layers.

Paper limitations: Risograph ink dries by soaking into the paper. As a result, we can only print on uncoated (matte/non-gloss) paper. The paper's thickness can be anywhere between 80gsm (ordinary copy paper) or 300gsm (thick card for business cards or greeting cards).

Large areas of ink: Printing large areas of heavy/dark ink coverage can cause paper to stick to the ink drum and jam. For this reason, large areas of ink coverage should be no darker than 75%.


Plain papers

1. Munken Polar
Our go-to white paper
Available in:
Rough 120gsm, 170gsm.
Smooth 100gsm, 240gsm.

*OR* Freelife Vellum White
An alternative white stock in a lighter weight.
Available in:
Rough 120gsm.

2. Munken Pure
Our go-to off-white paper
Available in:
Smooth 100gsm, 240gsm.
Rough 120gsm, 170gsm.

3. Context Flint
A recycled stock with a similar warm grey tone to newsprint.
Available in: 80gsm, 140gsm

textured papers

4. Context Birch
An off-white recycled stock with natural fibres throughout.
Available in: 170gsm, 225gsm.

5. Cairn Straw
A more distressed recycled stock, with a rougher feel.
Available in: 120gsm.

6. Freelife Oikos White
A white recycled stock with grey/black fibres runnning throughout.
Available in: 120gsm.

coloured papers

7. Context Salmon
A pale pink stock with a slight grey tint.
Available in: 225gsm.

8. Context Pink
Available in: 170gsm.

9. Context Yellow
Available in: 170gsm.

10. Context Green
Available in: 170gsm.

11. Context Blue
Available in: 170gsm.

12. Black Card
Suitable when using aqua or gold inks, which are more opaque than our other colours.
Available in: 170gsm.

Before you send your files

This list of tips we've picked up in our time printing with RISO will help you ensure your files are ready to print without any issues.


Sending flattened files will prevent the risograph from creating any unexpected errors in your print's appearance. These can be caused by issues such as transparency, effects, typefaces not being found.

To flatten in Photoshop:
When saving your PDF tick the “As a Copy” box.
To Flatten in Illustrator:
When saving your file untick “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” box.

Set resolution to 300dpi. Lower resolution will leave your images pixelated.
Files should be A3 (297 x 420mm) in size.

when working with text

Do not set text below 6pt in size. If you are printing white text on a coloured background (knockout text) do not set text below 8pt in size.

For best results, outline your text (Illustrator).
Do not make text any lighter than 30% ink density.

Do not set line weights at less than 0.5pt. Lines thinner than this can appear broken, especially in lighter tones.

when sending your files

To print, we need separate PDF files for each colour layer in your image, and a full colour JPEG for reference.