The Difference Between MICR and OCR & Why They Are So Important

The main purpose of a machine or a tool is to ease our life and make it simple, the evolution of human beings arose with the evolution of machines and particularly electronics, thanks to awesome people like Edison and Tesla electricity and other industries which came along with it we became much closer to what we call the Future.

“The need is the mother of invention”, with every problem we face in life an idea is born, so in today’s post I’m going to talk about the difference between two great inventions, the difference between MICR and OCR, two technologies which made processing documents or text on images much easier than before.


OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, it’s a great technology which is used widely to recognize text printed or written on a paper, it saves time by not typing the same text again on a computer, OCR technology is not perfect because every character is written in a different way every time, so modern OCRs are trained to recognize complex and hard to read text using artificial intelligence or to be more specific machine learning.

It’s not wise to just depend on this technology, you need to proofread the output after the process is completed, it can be a boring task to do but it’s still faster than typing it again.

But you can skip the proofreading part if you’re scanning a clear text that’s not cursive handwritten text or complicated in any way.

Applications of OCR

As mentioned above OCR is being used everywhere, some examples are…

  • Data entry
  • Auto insurance
  • Airports
  • Helping blind people
  • Scanning documents
  • Search engines

Here’s a great video by Techquickie that explains OCR more in detail:

Type 1

Scabs text in real-time using a portable scanner

Type 2

By taking a photo with your phone and using an app to process and extract text from it.

A lot of websites offer this feature too, just search for online OCR.


MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition, before mid 1950 banks were struggling to check or process cheques codes, other organizations use it to validate the legitimacy of a document or a cheque and sort it easily, the process was manual and with the increase of cheques it was necessary to come up with an automated and accurate process or technology to fix this problem, the MICR is a popular technology used mostly by banks all over the world by processing magnetized ink printed on cheques, each character the MICR head pass over produces a unique waveform which makes it easy to identify it even if there was something written on it.

What is the difference between MICR and OCR

The two technologies are different from each other, in both the operating theory and the application.

  • MICR is used mostly in banks and government organizations.
  • OCR is used almost everywhere that requires text or image processing.
  • MICR is more accurate than OCR because it uses a standard font and magnetic ink.
  • MICR fault rate is less than 1%.
  • OCR uses artificial intelligence whereas MICR doesn’t.
  • OCR deals with more complicated text and symbols.

Examples of devices which use OCR

OCR is more of technology other than a device, you can find it easily on any smartphone, other places use OCR portable scanner.

Examples of devices which use MICR

I guess there is only one type of device which uses this technology which is the MICR head, you can find it easily in banks or any organization that needs to investigate the legitimacy of a legal document or cheque.

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