What do you need to print MICR?

To print your own checks, you need a certain minimum amount of hardware and software. There are also optional items, which can make check printing easier, or make the checks themselves look more professional.

MICR Fonts. You must have a set of MICR fonts that meet ANSI and ABA (X9.27-1995)  or Canadian CPA 006 banking standards. Not all MICR fonts are the same. Many don't meet these standards! Other MICR fonts have internal character positioning errors that cause check rejections when certain numbers are paired together. Some MICR fonts assume your printer and computer system will perfectly reproduce the font. What you need is a set  of MICR fonts that meet both ANSI and ABA standards and  that let you calibrate your entire printing system to adjust for any spacing discrepancies.

Laser Printer. While there are some special MICR printers that use ribbons, we will assume you don't have access to one of them. So you must use a laser printer to print MICR encoded checks. Why do you have to have a laser printer? MICR encoding must be printed with a special magnetic "ink". (This is a legal requirement of the Check 21 Act.)  This special magnetic "ink" is only available for laser printers. You must purchase special laser printer toner cartridges that contain magnetic particles. The standard toner cartridges that come with your laser printer will not work. As of 1/2013 no one has released a magnetic ink for inkjet printers.

So how do you select a laser printer for MICR encoding? First, locate firms that make magnetic toner cartridges. See what printers match their toner cartridges. Then select a printer that matches the available toner cartridges. In general, HP and Lexmark are good choice. Others may work as well.

Paper. Checks should be printed on special safety paper. This paper should be stored in a location that is fairly moisture free.

Magnetic Toner. The MICR line on checks must be printed using magnetic toner. This special toner is only available for laser printers (and some special dot matrix printers.)  Inkjet printers can not print MICR! In general, your printer manufacturer will not sell this special toner. (The market for it is to small.)  So you must locate a firm that specializes in magnetic toner for your laser printer.

Secure Number Fonts. Printing the check amount in a way that can't be altered can be difficult. In the old days, check embossing machines printed the amount in raised numbers. You can now do something similar on your laser printer by using our Secure Number fonts. These typefaces typically reverse the pattern of dark numbers on a light background, and add stripes for additional security. They may also spell out the number or symbol below the actual digit.

Signature Fonts. If you print a lot of checks, signing them can become a problem. Even stamping on a signature is time consuming. A better technique is to have the computer that is printing the check sign it too. We can convert one, two, or three signatures into a font that can be used to automatically sign your checks, as they are printed. Unlike graphic images, fonts can be used for high speed printing, and they can often be scaled in size.

Logo Fonts. Every check you issue makes a statement about your company. Checks that appear professional improve your company's image. We can convert your company logo into a font, that can be printed at high speed on every check you make. Unlike graphic images, fonts can be used for high speed printing, and they can often be scaled in size.

Software. It takes some sort of software program to print a check. You can do this from something as simple as a word processor, or from a custom program, or from many accounting packages.