Q: Do you have any tips for printing checks?

A: Yes, here are some simple suggestions for printing laser checks:

Always have a backup MICR toner cartridge available so you won't have any downtime if you unexpectedly run out of toner or have a problem with the cartridge.

Store toner cartridges in a cool, dark place in their foil bag and box to protect them from light and moisture. Make sure they are stored horizontally, not on end.

Keep your laser printer clean. Paper dust and toner particles can accumulate inside the machine and adversely affect print quality. Every time you change your toner cartridge, use a clean, slightly damp cloth (or a special toner pick-up cloth) to wipe up any residual grime. Consider investing in a minivac (one with a 10-micron filter) to get your printer really clean.

Many laser printers offer an economy print mode. If the printer is set for this mode, the print density may be too light and the magnetic signal strength will not meet the minimum standards. Use the printer panel or printer set-up software to change to normal print mode.

To extend the toner cartridge's life, periodically remove it and rock it gently from side to side a few times while holding it horizontally. This distributes the toner resin more evenly and may help your pages print more uniformly.

Always examine the first few checks in a new check run, especially after adding or modifying bank account data or changing laser printers. Verify the E-13B font and numbers are correct and printing in the proper location.

Look at the MICR clear band (the bottom 5/8 inch) of the check. Make certain it doesn't contain anything printed in MICR toner other than the E-13B MICR characters. Sometimes a portion of a laser printed signature or a graphics line or text from a lower stub will be inadvertently printed within the clear band. This can make the MICR line unreadable by reader/sorter machines. To correct this it may be necessary to modify the print location of the offending characters or graphics.

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