General Requirements for the Layout of Cheques

Cheques have been divided into a number of "areas" which provide for insertion of information to assist with both manual and electronic processing by Financial Institutions. Except where specifically stated, dimensions of areas are dependent on the amount of information to be entered, whether by handwriting, typewriter or other machines.

A suggested document layout showing placement of various details is illustrated in figures 2 and 3. Many variations to design are acceptable, subject to the specifications contained in this publication and the approval of the relevant Financial Institution.

The following data elements (described below) are designated as Areas Of Interest (AOI), therefore the foreground must be printed as scan readable:

  1. Financial Institution Name and Customer Name
  2. Branch Domicile
  3. Payee
  4. Amount in Words
  5. Account Name
  6. MICR Line
  7. Position of Signature(s)
  8. Date
  9. Amount in Figures and $-Sign
  10. Completion of the Amount in Figures
  11. Visual Guides
  12. Stamp Duty (where applicable)
  13. Warning Band
  14. Financial Institution Cheques

It is recommended that printing of data in the AOIs should be in a sans serif font. Text must be in a size of not less than 8 points and preferably 10 points or larger. The Amount in Figures must be in a size of not less than 10 points and preferably 12 points or larger.

Minimum Size
6 1/4" x 2 2/3" (159mm x 70mm)

Minimum Size Cheque

Maximum Size
8 1/4" x 3 2/3" (210mm x 93mm)

Maximum Size Cheque

 1. Financial Institution Name and Customer Name

The name of the Financial Institution on which the cheque is drawn must not be less than 1/8" (3mm) in height and sufficiently prominent to be able to be recognised against all other information on the document. Refer to the relevant Financial Institution for requirements regarding presentation of their logo if used.

The customer's legal and/or trading name, and/or logo may appear in the upper portion of the document.

 2. Branch Domicile

The correct branch domicile/address should be positioned below the Financial Institution's name and must be printed in the following format as appropriate:

CBD Branches
Branch name (if applicable), Street Address, City, State.
For example: 300 Collins St., Melbourne, Vic.

Suburban and Country Branches
Branch name (if applicable), Town, Street Address, State.
For example: Wodonga, 123 Smith St., Vic.

The name of the state is always to be abbreviated, without full stops between letters (eg NSW). Thoroughfare abbreviation is optional, eg “St” for Street or “Rd” for Road etc.

Refer to the Confirmatory Authority for correct details.

 3. Payee

If not completed by machine printing, this field must have a vertical terminating bar printed at the end of each line in order to discourage the cheque writer from writing into the Amount in Figures area.

The Payee's name should start at the left-hand end of the line and not extend into the Protection Area for the Amount in Figures. Refer Example 1:

Example 1

Pay John Citizen                         | or bearer
or
Pay to the order of John Citizen                         |

When the Payee’s name is to be completed by machine printing, at least 2 asterisks should be inserted before and after the wording and the characters so aligned, that no additional wording can be placed prior to or following the original wording specified.

The Payee’s name should start as near as possible to the wording “Pay” and not extend into the Protection Area for the Amount in Figures.

Example 2

Pay ** John Citizen**                         | or bearer
or
Pay to the order of ** John Citizen**                         |

 4. Amount in Words

If not completed by machine printing, this field must have a vertical terminating bar printed at the end of each line in order to discourage the cheque writer from writing into the Amount in Figures area. Refer Example 1 (note the second line is optional).

The Amount in Words should start at the left-hand end of the line and not extend beyond the vertical terminating bar. In Example 1 shown below, the second line is optional:

Example 1

The Sum of                                                          |
                                                                            |

When the Amount in Words is to be completed by machine printing, at least 2 asterisks should be inserted before and after the wording and the characters so aligned, that no additional wording can be placed prior to or following the original wording specified.

The Amount in Words should start as near as possible to the wording “The Sum of” and not extend into the Protection Area for the Amount in Figures.

Example 2

The Sum of **NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS AND EIGHTY ONE CENTS**
or

The Sum of Dollars Cents
Thousands Hundreds Tens Units  
**Nil** **Nine** ** Five ** **Zero** **81**

When the amount normally expressed in words is to be inserted by machine in figures with either the words "dollars" and "cents" or the $-sign, at least 2 asterisks should be inserted before and after the amount and the digits so aligned that no figure can be inserted between the dollars and cents columns. The relevant Financial Institution may require the customer to execute an indemnity.

Example 3

The Sum of $**950.81**

 5. Account Name

All account name(s) must comply with the Confirmatory Authority and current corporate and business name legislation and must be positioned allowing for the requirements of signatures.

 6. MICR Line

The MICR line must include the customer's account number, a cheque serial number and the BSB of the Financial Institution where the account is conducted.

 7. Position of Signature(s)

The recommended position for the signature is in the bottom half of the document below the Amount in Figures, above the MICR Clear Band and located so the signature does not intrude into the Amount in Figures area or the MICR Clear Band. Printing of signature line(s) is mandatory and should be placed in accordance with the aforementioned requirements.

Where more than one signature is required, these may be placed on the same line or one above the other. If signature(s) are preprinted the Financial Institution may require an Indemnity.

 8. Date

The date should be placed in the top right corner of the cheque above the "Amount in Figures" area.

 9. Amount in Figures and $-Sign

Area for the Amount in Figures and $-Sign
The Amount in Figures and $-sign are to be located in an imaginary rectangle. The size of the
rectangle may vary according to need.

Amount in Figures Imaginary Rectangle
Dimensions Specifications
Width Minimum - 1 1/2" (38mm)
Maximum - 2" (51mm)
Height Minimum - 9/32" (7mm)
Maximum - 3/8" (10mm)
Minimum distance of bottom right-hand corner from
bottom reference edge of document
1 1/2" (38mm)
Maximum distance of top right-hand corner from bottom
reference edge of document
1 7/8" (48mm)
Distance of right-hand edge from right-hand reference
edge of document
Minimum - 1/4" (6mm)
Maximum - 3/4" (19mm)
Distance of left-hand edge from right-hand reference edge
of document
Minimum - 1 3/4" (44mm)
Maximum - 2 1/4" (57mm)

Documents where the Amount in Figures were designed to conform to the specifications of Publication 11.4 , October 1995 or Publication 11.4.1, August 1997 remain acceptable until such time as a redesign is undertaken.

$-Sign

The $-sign must be present on all cheques and printed as scan readable. It must not be handwritten as it provides a target for Image scanning equipment and should be formatted in accordance with Appendix D.

If a field guide or Rectangle is used, the $-sign must be centred vertically on the guide.

Documents where the $-sign was designed to conform to the specifications of Publication 11.4 , October 1995 or Publication 11.4.1, August 1997 remain acceptable until such time as a redesign is undertaken.

Location specifications for the $-sign Specifications
Distance from the left-hand edge of the $-sign to the righthand reference edge of the document Minimum - 1 3/4" (44mm)
Maximum - 2 1/4" (57mm)
Distance of bottom of stroke from bottom reference edge of document Minimum - 1 1/2" (38mm)
Distance of top of stroke from bottom reference edge of document Maximum - 1 7/8" (48mm)

Amount in Figures
The Amount in Figures must be printed or written to the right of the $-sign. It must not touch the $- sign to the left nor intrude into the 1/4" (6mm) vertical clear band to the right. To avoid fraudulent alteration of the Amount in Figures, it should be written or printed as close as possible to the $-sign. Where the Amount in Figures is machine-printed, protecting asterisks may be used, Nothing, other than protecting asterisks, is to be printed as scan readable to the right of the Amount in Figures.

Protection Area
A protection area must be maintained around the $-sign and Amount in Figures. No other scan readable printing or writing is to approach closer than 1/10" (2.5mm) to the left of the $-sign, and 1/8" (3mm) above and below the $-sign and Amount in Figures.

 10. Completion of the Amount in Figures

Handwritten Cheques
Where the Amount in Figures is handwritten a visual guide must be provided and be positioned within the imaginary rectangle

The $-sign must be pre-printed and centred vertically in relation to the guide or rectangle and positioned within the area.

Machine-Printed Cheques
Where the Amount in Figures is machine or computer printed, a field guide or drop-out rectangle is not required provided the background is printed as scan non-readable. However, if a field guide or dropout rectangle is used.

Asterisks should be printed to protect the beginning and/or the end of the Amount in Figures, ie between the $-sign and the dollar amount and/or after the cents amount. No other characters other than asterisks are permitted.

The dollar amount must be separated from the cents amount only by a decimal point.

 11. Visual Guides

A visual guide may be provided to aid the drawer of the cheque for the location of the Amount in Figures. For machine-printed cheques a guide is optional. The form of the guide may be either a field guide or a dropout rectangle.

A field guide must be either:

  • Printed in a screen or lines as scan non-readable; OR
  • Defined by a line formed by reversing out the background printing, ie the guide may be white.

The $-sign, if printed outside the guide, should touch the guide so as to limit opportunity for fraudulent alteration of the amount in figures.

For security purposes, it is recommended that a background security pattern or screen is always printed inside the field guide, and when present, must always be printed as scan non-readable.

Dropout Rectangle
A dropout rectangle is produced by the use of a different colour or screen density of the original colour APCA Publication 11.5.3

For security purposes, it is recommended that a background security pattern or screen is always printed in the dropout rectangle.

 12. Stamp Duty (where applicable)

 13. Warning Band

 14. Financial Institution Cheques

Financial Institution Cheques must conform to the design and security requirements prescribed in this Publication. The words “Financial Institution Cheque” or “Bank Cheque” must be prominently printed on the face of a Financial Institution Cheque.

Where Financial Institution Cheques are issued on behalf of corporate purchasers, the Drawee Financial Institution may agree with the purchaser to allow the purchaser’s name, ACN/ARBN/ABN, and company logo/brand to be printed on the Financial Institution Cheque.

Any additional information printed on the Financial Institution Cheque must be less prominent than the Drawee Financial Institution’s name and logo. Care must be exercised in the display, size and placement of the purchaser’s logo, to ensure that there is no confusion over who is the drawer of the Financial Institution Cheque.

The Drawee Financial Institution retains the discretion to decide whether it is prepared to allow noncorporate purchasers of Financial Institution Cheques to insert their name and other details on the\ Financial Institution Cheque.

Source: Design Specifications for Cheques - APCA (Australian Payments Clearing Association)