Difference between OCR and MICR

Both OCR and MICR are types input devices that use character recognition technologies to convert printed data into digital signals that can be processed by a computer. The most basic difference between an OCR and an MICR is that an OCR (Optical Character Recognition/Reader) uses optical effects for character recognition, while an MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition/Reader) uses magnetic effects for character recognition.

Read this article to find out more about OCR and MICR and how they are different from each other.

What is OCR?

OCR, short for Optical Character Recognition, is a technology to convert scanned documents into digital documents. This technique helps to identify the text stored in images and is also used to distinguish handwritten vs printed documents.

OCR is utilized to scan any type of printed text optically, i.e., with the help of light. It uses specialized software that is trained to recognize the shapes and patterns of letters, numbers, and symbols, and to convert them into digital text that can be edited, searched, and stored. It consists of several types of fonts and it can detect any type of ink. An OCR basically works by extracting the grid dots and converting these dots into equivalent ASCII text that a computer can render.

OCR is a useful tool for digitizing paper documents and making them more accessible, searchable, and shareable. It is commonly used in fields such as business, education, and government.

What is MICR?

MICR, short for Magnetic Ink Character Reader, is also a character recognition technology, majorly used by banks to process and read the information at the bottom of checks and other financial documents. MICR is also used to verify the documents.

As its name implies, MICR uses magnetic ink and special characters for character recognition. A MICR scanner magnetizes the special ink and then converts the information into characters using magnetic effects. However, the MICR recognizes only special fonts such as E138 and CMC7.

MICR is a widely used technology in the financial industry because it allows for fast and accurate processing of large numbers of financial documents.

Difference between OCR and MICR

The important differences between OCR and MICR are listed in the following table −

Stands for OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition/Reader. MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition/Reader.
Scanning OCR can scan any kind of printed text. MICR scan specific formats present in a cheque.
Device Type OCR is an optical device. MICR is a magnetic device.
Supported Fonts A wide variety of fonts are supported. Few fonts are supported like E−138 and CMC−7.
Supported Ink A wide variety of inks are supported. Magnetic ink created using iron oxide, is supported only.
Usage Scanned data is used to edit or print. Scanned data is used to process cheque.


Both OCR and MICR are character recognition technologies used in computing systems. The most significant difference that you should note here is that the OCR is an optical character recognition device, whereas the MICR is a magnetic character recognition device. OCR is used in data entry work, automatic number plate recognition, traffic sign recognition, etc., while MICR is mainly used in banking systems to process the bank cheques.

Updated on: 21-Dec-2022

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