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MICR Font E-13B

There are two types of characters in the E-13B font, numbers and symbols.

The ten numeric characters of the font are 0-9:

E-13B Font

The four symbols used to control the interpretation of the MICR line include:

On-Us symbol

On-Us symbol
Transit symbol Transit symbol
Amount Symbol Amount Symbol
Dash Symbol Dash Symbol

It should be noted that the characters shown here are not a representation of the actual font type size.

As shown below, the MICR line (at the bottom of the check) is separated into distinct parts or units. The beginning and end of each unit is indicated by using the special symbols. These units are referred to as code line fields. Due to the principle of MICR being a common machine language, some of these fields have a fixed format, while others are open to the individual requirements of different banks. Reader/Sorters read checks from right to left starting with the amount field. It is a requirement of the bank of first deposit to MICR-encode the amount field of the check.

Check Layout
On-Us Symbol On-Us symbol
The On-Us symbol tells the reader/sorter that the next few numbers identify, among other items, the account number. Since the issuing institution determines the content of the On-Us field, the bank branch the check is drawn on may also be indicated. If you look at the On-Us symbol on your personal check, and the numbers after it (i.e., to the left of the symbol; the reader/sorter reads right to left), you will recognize your account number, your bank's branch number, and probably the check number. The check serial number is typically to the right of the On-Us symbol.

On larger business size checks, this On-Us symbol is also used to define a field on the left end of the check. This field, called the auxillary On-Us field, is optional, at the bank's choosing, and frequently contains a multiple digit serial number.

Transit symbol Transit symbol
There are always two transit symbols in a MICR line, one is the opening of the transit field, the other is the transit fields closing symbol. They tell the reader/sorter that the numbers between these symbols identify the institution upon which the check is drawn (which is where the document should be sent for processing). Checks are often not processed in branch offices, but in central processing locations, which ensure that documents take the shortest route and the shortest processing time in the Federal Reserve System.

Amount Symbol Amount Symbol
The two amount symbols tell the reader/sorter that the numbers between the symbols are the amount of the check. Generally, this field will be blank because the amount is normally added later by the bank. However, some applications may add the amount field while printing checks.

Dash Symbol Dash Symbol
The dash is sometimes used as a separator within the On-Us field, although reader/sorter manufacturers discourage its use because of detection problems. Some banks still use the dash to separate the bank branch number from the account number.

As mentioned previously, the exact field structure is a function of the national standards, while the example above is that of the USA. Field lengths may vary as a function of the national requirements and even the detail usage of the symbols may be different. For example, although Australia uses the same length and bracketing structure for the amount field as is used in the USA, their "starts" are equivalent to the routing field with a transit symbol, but they "close" with an On-Us symbol.

Even within the national standards there may be opportunities for some significant level of variation within fields. It is always best to identify the required field structure through the use of the bank's MICR Printing Specifications form for a specific account.

Character design  
All of the E-13B characters are designed on a 7 by 9 matrix of 0.013-inch squares (see below). The minimum character width is four squares (or 0.052-inch) for the numbers 1 and 2, while the maximum width is 0.091-inch for the number 8 and four special symbols. All characters, except for the On-Us and dash symbols, have a height of 0.117-inch. This does not correspond to an exact point size usually specified for fonts, but lies between an 8- and 9-point type size.

The height of the On-Us symbol is 0.091-inch, while the dash is 0.052-inch; both still multiples of the basic 0.013-inch unit.

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