MICR - Magnetic Ink Character Recognition

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition is used for the printing of bank checks on blank stock. Unlike toner (ink) used for general text printing, MICR toner has a high iron oxide content so that it can be read by electronic bank processing equipment. If the equipment cannot read the check electronically, it then must be manually processed. The "bank line" consists of the odd looking characters at the bottom of the check which contains the bank routing information. First employed by US banks in 1956, it became the standard in 1963. Of the two possible font sets, E-13B and CMC-7, the US uses the E-13B shown below.

The 14 characters of the E-13B font. The control characters bracketing each numeral block are (from left to right) transit, on-us, amount, and dash.

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  1. Why would I want to use MICR Toner and blank check stock?
  2. Using blank check stock provides two main benefits. One is security. Since the check stock is blank and contains no bank information, there is nothing to “steal.” Preprinted checks are subject to unauthorized use.

    When you have multiple accounts, you do not have to maintain separate amounts of pre printed checks for each account.

  3. What does MICR mean?
  4. MICR is an acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition and is needed by any electronic processing system.

  5. How do I know that a MICR cartridge will work properly?
  6. Like anything you may buy, you want to make sure that you work with a reputable manufacturer that fully tests each cartridge with the same type of equipment used by the banking industry.

    To insure quality, LASER SAVE fully tests each cartridge with special bank level readers in compliance with ASTM test methods and is certified by the STMC of the International Image Technology Council, which is the leading organization for the toner industry.

  7. Why can’t I find MICR ink for my inkjet printer anywhere?
  8. MICR has a very precise specification so that checks can be processed at a very high speed. One aspect that is critical for reliable MICR readability is consistency. Unfortunately, because inkjet inks are liquid, the materials that would be added to make them “readable” settle to the bottom. As a result, inkjet is not a suitable technology for MICR printing.

  9. Why is MICR toner only available for a few laser printers, mostly HP?
  10. MICR toner, just like standard toner, has to be formulated for each printer "engine". As you have probably noticed, there are hundreds of models of laser printers. Since MICR is not a mainstream product, there has to be sufficient demand for a toner manufacturer to invest in formulating a MICR toner for a specific printer engine. HP continues to have the largest market share, and as a result MICR toner is available for most HP laser printers. Your next best bet is IBM/Lexmark and Xerox, for which there are several models that have MICR toner available. Other than that, you will have to shop around to see if a MICR toner is available for your printer. Note that even though your printer may not be listed, it may actually be using a printer engine that is the same as in a supported model.

    To order your MICR supplies, click here

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