What is MICR?

MICR Definitions


ABA:  American Bankers Association.

Aligning Edge: The bottom edge of a check when viewed from the face.

Alignment: The vertical variation between the bottom edges of adjacent MICR characters.

Amount Field: Character positions within the MICR line of a check, which contains a numeric, value corresponding with the value of the check.

Amount Symbol:  A special MICR character used to separate the amount field from the other fields in the MICR line.

ANSI:  American National Standards Institute, an organization responsible for the standardization of technical terminology, units of measurement, etc.  in the United States.

Auxiliary On-Us Field:  Optional field to the left of the Routing Field on the MICR line, typically used on commercial checks for the placement of consecutive serial numbers.

Background: The color or image on a document, exclusive from any printing on the surface.

Character:  A graphic shape representing a letter, digit, punctuation mark or other symbol.

Character Space/Position: The space or position where magnetic ink characters appear in the MICR line.

Character-to-Character Spacing: The distance between adjacent MICR characters.  The distance is measured from the right edge of one character to the right edge of the next character.

Check: Any document created for the purpose of transferring a given amount and written against an account maintained by a financial institution.  Includes business checks, drafts, government checks, and personal checks.

Check Size:   Check width must be at least 6.00” and not more than 8.75”.  Check height must be at least 2.75” and not more than 3.66”. 

CMC-7: The official designation of the font used in magnetic ink printing in France, Spain and several other countries.  It consists of ten numeric characters and four symbols.

Convenience Amount:  The amount written against an account in the form of a check expressed numerically.

Convenience Amount Field: provides an area to express the check value in numerals.

Copy Void Pantograph:  a camouflaged pattern

Debossing:  The effect of printing resulting in the characters being pressed into the paper.

E-13B:  The official designation of the font used in magnetic ink printing in the USA, Canada and several other countries.  It consists of ten numeric characters and four symbols.

Embossing: Printed characters raised above the paper surface.

Encoding: The process of imprinting MICR characters onto a payment document.

External Processing Code Field (EPC): An optional field, using a dingle digit, for the special purposes as authorized by the Accredited Standards Committee X9B.  It is located to the left of the routing field on a check.

Extraneous Ink:  Any magnetic ink, other than the printed MICR characters that are located with the MICR clear band.

Field: A specified portion of the MICR line that is limited to a set of one or more characters that may be treated as a unit of information.

Flourescent Fibers:  These fibers are built into the paper and can only be viewed under ultraviolet rays.  

Font:  A set of characters of a specific style and size of graphic type.

Font Height: The height of the body of a font’s character measured in points.  It is usually slightly greater than the distance from the bottom of a lower case descended to the top of an unaccented capital letter.

Halftone: A printing process that expresses itself in the form of colored patterns of dots.  The mixture of colored dots is perceived by the human eye as hues and can be used to print check background images, tints and security features.

Holographic Seal:  A metallic seal which is embedded in the paper.  Viewed at different angles the images will vary; helping to prevent against fraudulent copying of documents.

Image Replacement Document (IRD):  a machine readable substitute document created from the image that is made from the front and back of the original check or previous IRD.  Also known as a Substitute Check, it is the legal equivalent of the original check for all purposes.

Indelible Bleed Through: A special combination of MICR Toner or Ink and paper create characters which permeate through the document becoming visible on the front and the back of the document.

Leading Edge:  the right edge of a check when the face is viewed.  Referring to ink composed partially of iron oxide, for the purpose of allowing the characters to be recognized mechanically.

Legal Amount Area:  The negotiable amount of the check expressed in text.

MICR:  Magnetic Ink Character Recognition.  Characters used to print information on documents using a Ferrous (Iron) base, allowing the character to be processed by Machines.  ANSI standard x9.27.

MICR Line: The 0.25 inch high region centered in the clear band that contains the E-13B or CMC-7 MICR Characters.

MICR Clear Band:  A band 0.625 inches above the Aligning Edge of a check, running parallel to the edge for the length of the document.  The cleared area is reserved for the imprinting of MICR characters printed on the face of the check.  The Clear Band area must be free of any other magnetic printing on either the front or back of the check.

On-Us Field:  A data field in the MICR line on a check reserved for bank use which usually includes the account number and an optional processing code.  An on-us symbol usually appears to the right of the account number. 

On-Us Symbol:  A special MICR character used in the On-Us and Auxiliary On-Us Fields.

Opacity:  The property of a substance of preventing light from passing through it.  Ink opacity is concerned with the ink coating preventing the reflectance showing through.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR): Machine reading by optical means of printed, human readable characters (as opposed to optical mark or bar code reading).

Payee Line:  The line on a check provided for the entry of the name of the party to whom the check is being paid.

Payment Document:  Any paper document that is used to transfer funds from one party to another.

Print Contrast:  The difference, in the form of a ratio, of reflectivity of Signal (PCS): the background and data to the reflectivity of the check background.

Print Density:  The relative darkness of print on the page which affects the amount of magnetic ink applied to a page.

Security MICR Toner:  A MICR Toner which has added features in the toner that help prevent against fraudulent alteration. Examples include dye release when alteration is attempted.

Signature:  Can be signed manually or digitized and printed digitally at the time of check runs.


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