Computer Checks 101: The Basics

For businesses that write a lot of checks every month, generating computer checks in-house is a great way to save money and time. Using an accounting software compatible with an MICR printer helps prevent accounting mistakes and streamlines payroll and accounts payable processing. Here's what you need and what you need to know to get started. Laser Printer with MICR Toner Some printers use MICR ribbons, but laser printers that use MICR toner cartridges are more common by far. MICR toner contains a magnetic compound – iron oxide – that reacts with the reading mechanism. Each character produces a waveform that can be identified by the computer as the check passes over the read heads....similar to the play function on a tape recorder. Magnetic toner cartridges are not available for every printer on the market. It is wise to purchase a separate printer that can be dedicated to check printing. This eliminates the need to change cartridges for everyday use, which could easily result in costly mistakes – useless checks printed in ordinary ink or non-financial documents printed in more costly magnetic ink. Instead of shopping for a printer, shop for MICR ink cartridges. Purchase a printer compatible with toner that's readily available. Several popular printer companies, including Lexmark and Hewlett Packard, manufacture MICR toner and printers. To date, there are no MICR ink cartridges marketed for inkjet printers. MICR Font In 1959, a standard font was accepted by the American Banking Association. This font is required on all Computer Checks printed in the United States. The entire financial industry uses the same standard font, called E-13B MICR. This font, which will be included with check writing software, is readable to both industry computers and humans. Before you invest in a check printing or accounting software, make sure this exact font is part of the package. Check Printing Software Check printing software is designed to communicate with an MICR printer and accounting software. There are a number of accounting packages on the market, including Peachtree and QuickBooks. If you already have an accounting system in place that does not have an integrated computer check printing feature, look for a software compatible with your existing system to minimize the learning curve and data migration. Most software and office stores stock the kind of software you need. Computer Check Stock Computer checks stock paper comes with a number of built in security features to protect against fraud. Good quality papers have features like watermarks, anti-photocopying features, implanted fibers, and coded magnetic strips that make it impossible to pass of a copy of a check as an original document. Checkomatic carries a full line of quality blank stock with the security features you need to print checks with confidence.
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