Aligning edge The bottom edge of the document when its face is viewed.
Amount field he right-hand field of the MICR line. It is a fixed field that contains the value of the transaction and, if used, is normally completed by the collecting Financial Institution.
Auxiliary Domestic field For cheques this field contains the serial number of the cheque. When used with deposit forms, no pre-printing may occur as this is used to record the Item Count (number of cheques deposited) during the proofing process.
Average edge An imaginary line that divides irregularities on the edge of printed characters such that the sum of the inked areas on the non-inked side of the line equals the sum of the non-inked areas on the inked side. Used for defining both vertical and horizontal edges of printed MICR characters.
Background The basic colours and patterns that appear on a document, apart from
lines and information printed on it. These must be printed in scan non-readable ink.
BSB field A field that contains symbols and numeric values identifying the Financial Institution and depending upon the individual Financial Institution, the State and Branch where the account is held or the processing centre and the State in which the processing centre is located or administration point of the Financial Institution. The symbol that opens the field (BSB symbol) is always the reference point for measuring character positions.
Capture The gathering of data from the MICR line during processing, to enable further electronic processing of the captured information.
Character space The space in which one printed numeric character or symbol can appear. It is measured horizontally, from the right hand average edge of the character to the right-hand average edge of the adjacent character immediately to the left. There are eight character spaces per inch.

A cheque is an unconditional order in writing that:

  • is addressed by a person to another person (being a Financial Institution);
  • is signed by the person giving it; and
  • requires the Financial Institution to pay on demand a sum certain in money.

An instrument that does not comply with these rules or that orders any act to be done in addition to the payment of money, is not a cheque.

Clear bands Areas within which printing is restricted, these are the optical clear bands for Image Capture and the MICR clear band.
Convenience amount The Amount in Figures on cheques and the Total Amount on deposit forms.
Deposit form A deposit form is a summary of the cheques or cash being lodged to a specific account at a Financial Institution.
Debossment A physical impression of the typeface into the paper surface causing a depression below the surrounding paper surface.
Designated peak(s) The peak or peaks of a waveform which is (are) used for the purpose of determining signal strength of a character/symbol.
Document processing system The series of processing steps performed on a cheque from initial lodgement through to return to the Financial Institution on which the cheque is drawn.
Domestic Field This field contains the account number of the document. The format is determined by the relevant Financial Institution.
Embossment As used in this specification, a physical buildup of toner on paper causing the characters to sit above the surrounding paper surface.
Extra Auxiliary Domestic Field Mainly used on deposit forms to identify depositors, hence the alternative name “Agent Number”.
Extraneous ink Magnetic ink, toner or other ink not intentionally printed which is located within the MICR clear band.
E-13B The designation given to the type of font used as the basis for the MICR system in the US, Canada, Australia and many other countries.
Field A sub-unit of the MICR line consisting of one or more MICR characters. Fields are either fixed format, such as the BSB and Amount field, or variable format such as the Domestic and Auxiliary Domestic fields.
Image Capture A process which captures a digital image of a document as it
passes through a reader/sorter. This image may be used simply for storage and
retrieval or for analysis by intelligent optical character recognition to read the written
dollar value of the document.
Leading edge The right hand edge of a cheque when its face is viewed. It is used as the reference edge by mechanised reading equipment which reads the MICR code line from right to left.
Magnetic ink/toner The ink/toner used to print the E-13B code line. It is formulated by introducing iron oxide particles into the ink or toner materials, allowing the characters printed to be read by magnetic readers designed for this purpose.
Matrix reader A MICR reading technique that divides characters into horizontal and vertical cells. The cells are then applied to a “pattern” recognition system to identify the characters. The magnetic cell detectors are very sensitive to any air gap between the MICR ink and the detecting heads during the reading process.
MICR An acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. MICR is a recognition technology based on characters printed with magnetic ink or toner and processed by being magnetised and sensed magnetically. MICR characters are printed information on documents so that the codeline information can be captured by magnetic recognition.
MICR Clear Band A horizontal band, 5/8 inch high, on the front and back of the document, measured from the bottom reference edge, that shall be free of any magnetic ink other than that of the E-13B font.
MICR Print Band A rectangular strip (1/4 inch high) centred vertically across the horizontal width of the MICR clear band, in which the MICR characters must be placed. The MICR characters are ideally centred vertically within the 1/4 inch encoding strip.
MICR tester A device which is used to measure the magnetic signal strength of the printed MICR characters. More advanced MICR testers use a waveform reader to recognise and display character waveforms for comparison to theoretical waveforms.
Non-Impact Printing A term used to refer to the print technologies of xerography, electron beam imaging, magnetography, thermal encoding and the like. In these technologies, toner or ink is transferred and fused to the paper. The result is an image that is raised above the surface of the paper (embossed).
OCR An acronym for “Optical Character Recognition”. OCR technology uses optical sensing to achieve machine readability of fonts including the E-13B font.
Optical clear band A 0.300 inch high band which has included within it the MICR print band. This band is located 0.150 inch above the aligning edge.
Permanence The ability of MICR printing to retain its human and machine readability over the normal life cycle of the document which includes human handling and machine processing.
Pile height The thickness of the ink or toner layer forming an image, frequently used with ink/toners that create embossed images (see Embossment). The Pile height is not equal to the embossment height unless the ink lies completely above the surface of the paper.
Print Contrast Signal (PCS) The ratio of the print contrast of a particular printed point with respect to the reflectance of a reference or background region. Refer to the Design Specifications for Cheques and Deposit Forms.
Printed information Lines or text printed on a payment document to convey the informational content of the document and not considered to be part of the background.
Printing and Layout Gauge (Glardon Gauge) The gauge is an overlay grid printed on clear plastic representing the standard for character spacing and alignment of the MICR line. The plastic is attached precisely at the bottom to a backing, so that a MICR document can be slipped between the plastic and backing. The positioning of the printed MICR line can then be evaluated against the standard.
Reader/sorter An automated MICR document processing machine that performs a number of functions. It magnetises the MICR characters and senses the electrical signals generated by the subsequent passage of the characters under a read head. It decodes the signals, identifies the characters and validates the field structures. It separates valid (acceptable) documents from invalid or unreadable documents and further separates the acceptable documents into groups. It may optionally endorse and capture an image of each document. The specifics of the sorting process are under the control of its operating software.
Reject(s) A term used for a rejected document(s). The document may be rejected visually as not meeting APCA criteria, or by not being readable on a reader/sorter. Most commonly this term applies to reader/sorter non-acceptance.
Saturation (Magnetic) The condition in which the flux density of the printing can no longer be increased by increasing the applied magnetisation in a plane parallel to the paper.
Secondary reference document Paper documents specially printed in magnetic ink with characters of the E-13B font. These documents are of known relative signal level and are for use in calibration of equipment used to measure relative signal level.
Signal strength The amplitude of the designated peak(s) in the voltage waveform of a MICR character when measured on an appropriate and properly calibrated MICR tester.
Skew The tilt or angle of a MICR character relative to the aligning edge of the document. The skew of the entire MICR line refers to the average tilt or angle of the line relative to the aligning edge of the document.
Stroke The measurable width of a printed stroke or line. The edges of the stroke can be irregular depending on printing methods, paper surface or both. The stroke width is thus measured as the average distance between the average edges of a
Symbol A sign or emblem used instead of words for identification or representation.
Trailing edge The left edge of the document when its face is viewed.
Transaction Code field This is a three-digit field, used by Financial Institutions to classify transaction types. It is sometimes referred to as the “ Trancode Field”.
Variable format field A description or specification of information content that will vary according to the needs of a user.
Void The absence of ink within the specified outline of the printed MICR character.
Waveform A voltage representation of signals with respect to time that corresponds to a particular character or symbol.
Waveform reader (single slot reader) A MICR reader that uses a permanent magnet write head and a single slot magnetic read head, usually 5/8 inch high, in
order to pass over the entire MICR clear band. Each MICR character in the clear band generates a unique voltage waveform consisting of accurately spaced positive and negative peaks. From the peak amplitude and position data, individual MICR characters are identified.

Source: MICR Technical Specifications - APCA (Australian Payments Clearing Association)