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Differences Between MICR Ink and MICR Toner

By Bethany Taylor August 17, 2020 0 comments

In the world of printing ink, not all inks are equal. That is especially when it comes to printing business checks. If you have not heard about MICR ink or toner in the past, or wonder what it is, below is an explanation about why it matters to your business and your financial security.

What are the MICR ink vs MICR toner differences?

The meaning of MICR

MICR toner

It is essential to have a laser printer for easy laser check printing

First let us look at the definition of the term MICR. MICR is an acronym for “Magnetic Ink Character Recognition.” It refers to the combinations of special numbers at the bottom of checks that consist of the account number, the bank’s routing number, check number, among other details. 

 What is MICR ink?

This is used for check printing on MICR ink printers.

What is MICR toner?

A MICR toner is also called a MICR toner cartridge. It is used for check printing on laser printers and is similar to standard laser printer toner. However, it includes an iron oxide additive that allows for electronic processing and ensures compliance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications for efficient readability.

What do the MICR ink and MICR toner print?

MICR ink and MICR toner can print the special numbers, also known as the MICR line on checks. Both kinds of cartridges should meet ANSI standards for check printing assuming the magnetic ink or toner cartridges are originally manufactured and not refilled or remanufactured. 

MICR Advantages and Disadvantages

  • It is an ideal choice for small businesses that print a few checks each day or week.
  • They provide a fast, secure and accurate way of printing checks
  • These are slower than laser printers and it may be challenging to find an inkjet printer that will print MICR at speeds much higher than 20 pages-per-minute (ppm).
  • These printers are also less scalable than laser printers for accessories such as trays, drawers, and security options.

Why Does the Federal Reserve advocate for MICR on Business Checks?

Laser check printing

MICR ink and MICR toner cartridges should meet ANSI standards for check printing

Many business owners often ask – is MICR toner required to print checks? Yes! The Federal Reserve and all banks require laser check printing for ease of processing. Financial institutions read checks optically and/or magnetically, using MICR. It is also imperative to note that not all banks have optical technology. That implies that checks printed without MICR toner will not meet the magnetic technology and will again need manual processing or likely be unreadable, causing the processing delays or fees mentioned above.

Resources and References:


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