Chapter 3. MICR Line Placement Guide

This chapter briefly overview the placement requirement for MICR line. For detailed information, see ANSI X9.13 standard, or the publication from your country's standard organization or bank association.

3.1. Positioning MICR Line

MICR line is placed in an area called clear band. This clear band has a minimum height of 5/8" from the bottom edge (called aligning edge) and runs across the check. The clear band should be free of any magnetic ink other than of the E-13B font.

Figure 3.1. MICR Line Positioning

MICR Line Positioning

Vertically, the MICR print band is a 1/4" high band, which begins at 3/16" from the aligning edge and ends at 7/16" inch from the aligning edge. Measured horizontally, the band should begin at 5/16" inch from the right side of the check document (referred as leading edge in the standard) and extend to 8 7/16" maximum from the leading edge. Because MICR symbols have a fixed width of 1/8" inch, the total line has 65 positions, numbered from 1 to 65 with position 1 the rightmost.

When layout MICR characters, the baseline is the bottom edge of the MICR print band.

Horizontally lengths are subject to 1/16" cutting tolerance. Therefore, the starting position can be between 1/4" ~ 7/16" inch from the leading edge.

The total 65 positions are further divided into four fields - Amount, On-Us, Transit and Auxiliary On-Us. Each field is separated with special MICR symbols (A, B, C and D). Note that although positions are counted from right to the left, numbers inside each field are meaning from left to right.

3.2. Fields in a MICR Line

This section explains the four fields in a MICR line.

3.2.1. Amount Field

The amount field is located from position 1 through 12. The field is enclosed with Amount symbols and have a fixed length.

  • Position 1: Amount symbol.

  • 2 through 3: Cents

  • 4 through 11: Dollar Amount (filled with zeroes to the left)

  • 12: Amount symbol (again).


Amount field is printed by your bank. This area should be left blank when you design checks.

3.2.2. On-Us Field

The On-Us field is located in position 13 through 32. Although the format for this field may vary, this field commonly contains an account number, or an account number followed by a serial number. Position 13 and 32 are usually blank to make sure that reader clearly knows this field.

The data inside the field is usually left-aligned and filled with spaces to the right.

There are two common structures in this field: account number only or account number plus check number. In both cases, account number is followed by an On-Us symbol to indicate that it is an account number. A dash or space may appear inside the account number. They are treated as inter-exchangeable by the standard.

3.2.3. Routing Field

Routing field runs in position 33 through 43. Position 33 and 43 must be transit symbol which brackets a 9-digit routing number. Presence of the dash symbol in this field indicates checks drawn on financial institutions in Canada or Mexico.

3.2.4. EPC Field

EPC may appear in position 44 or 45. On 6-inch check it can only appear in position 44 due to length limit. This field is used by banks for special processing and should be left blank.

3.2.5. Auxiliary On-US Field

This field only appears on checks with lengths greater than six inches. This field usually encodes the check's serial number with a On-Us symbol at the beginning and at the end. It starts either from position 44 or 45.

3.3. Quick Reference Drawing

The drawing below shows the most common layout in business checks circulated in North America:

Figure 3.2. MICR Line Placement Quick Reference

MICR Line Placement Quick Reference

Note that all horizontal lengths are measured from the right edge of the check (leading edge). Vertically, the base line of MICR characters should begin at 3/16" above the bottom edge of the check (aligning edge).

If you write programs to print MIcR symbols, it is not recommended to print all characters in one DrawText statement. Instead, print three fields separately, using the reference points listed in the drawing.

Do you know?

This manual is specific to MICR E13B Fonts 4.0.
The current version is 4.0.0.

This Manual is also available in the following format: PDF.