What Is Microprinting on a Check?

Feb 16, 2024 By Triston Martin

MP is the printing of very specific details on a document. It's a security function that makes it impossible to create fake documents, for example:

  • Checks
  • Currency
  • Documents for identification

When employed as a tool to stop fraud, the letters printed are usually so small that they can't be seen by the naked eye, leading to small words "hidden" on the face of money and checks. Microprinting can help you determine if the document is genuine. If the check area is microprinted, it is possible to determine if it's there. To read what it's saying, it's likely that you'll need the magnifying glass or a macro lens in the camera.


If you notice MP on your checks, typically near the signature line, it is a sign that the printer has used microprint to create one of the checks' security features. On checks, Signature lines on the back and front are usually printed using microprint. They appear like straight lines, but they are tiny words printed close to each other. The most common words printed on checks are "AUTHORIZED SIGNATURE," "MICROPRINT SECURITY," and "ORIGINAL DOCUMENT." If a U.S. federal agency printed checks, they might bear an official name for the organization, "USA," or "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," as part of the microprinting.

In addition to the microprint of the signature, one could also see small letters printed elsewhere within the checks. The checks' borders appear to be lined and usually have tiny letters. With a top-quality printer, it's possible to print fake checks and different financial records that appear authentic; however, security features like microprint can make the task more difficult. When microprint was first introduced in the early days, only a handful of scanners or copiers could duplicate the small letters at a sufficient resolution. So these tools could produce a fake that was easy to detect.

However, even with a high-quality scanner, you'll need an extravagant printer to print tiny letters with clarity. Security features like microprint on checks make it more difficult to fake authentic-looking counterfeits. To verify if a check is genuine, it is possible to examine the security features. A majority of checks include the security features they use in reverse.

Do I Need Microprinting on a Check?

There is no requirement to purchase checks that feature microprint. You can create your own personal checks by using your home printer. However, you could discover that your checks have been rejected, or you could be charged additional charges to use "alternative" methods. It is more secure to have additional security features on all financial documents you purchase. If you purchase blank checks (including other security features, too) you can utilize any printer that prints payment information and the amount. Checks bought from reliable check printers are likely to have a microprint feature.

When dealing with financial transactions, we need to ensure that the documents we use are authentic. This is why banks and treasuries have all invested in establishing new methods to ensure that counterfeit checks are not used and currencies from being circulated. In the case of money, there's plenty the Treasury can do, for instance, using special ink and paper that ordinary consumers cannot make use of. However, checks are more difficult to monitor because they're designed to be used only once in their design. The only options are less expensive to avoid fraud.

This is where MP comes in. The signature line? If MP is present, it's not even a line. If you take a close look, you might notice that it appears thinner than other lines and might appear blurry. If you look closely, you'll be able to see why this is: "line" is actually made of words, most commonly "Authorized Signature" or "Genuine." It's necessary to zoom in to discern the word, but here's an illustration.

These words are created using "microprinting," or you've got it right, MP. The printer used to make the check writers can produce extremely small letters that are impossible to read with a naked eye. Furthermore, most of the copying equipment available can't replicate the same effect. Personal checks aren't all equipped with this feature, however. Because checks that have microprinting are slightly more expensive to make, banks do not often offer them to customers. This is why banks must know whether a particular check comes with that security option. Therefore, they include to the signature line an "MP" to the signature line, if there is microprinting and let the bank that is receiving it be aware of the need to magnify.

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