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magnetic ink

A magnetically detectable ink used to print the MICR characters that encode account numbers on bank checks. See MICR.


(Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) The machine recognition of numeric data printed with magnetically charged ink. It is used on bank checks and deposit slips. MICR readers detect the characters and convert them into digital data. Although optical methods (OCR) became as sophisticated as the early MICR technology, magnetic ink is still used. It serves as a deterrent to fraud, because a photocopied check will not be printed with magnetic ink.

The E13B standard font is used for MICR digits and symbols on bank checks and deposit slips. There are only 14 characters in the font.

Early MICR Machine
The "football field-long" machine from Recognition Equipment was used in the 1970s to process checks and credit card slips. (Image courtesy of BancTec, Inc.)

This contemporary machine supports both MICR and OCR processing. (Image courtesy of BancTec, Inc.)

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