E13B is one of the two major Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) fonts used in the printing of checks and other payment documents. E13B is popular in North America and much of Asia, while the other main MICR font, CMC7, is the standard in most of Europe and South America.
The E13B font, pictured at right, uses characters with exaggerated features that are designed to produce distinctive patterns when scanned by a magnetic reader. This is because E13B characters, unlike CMC7, are read by detecting the intensity of the magnetic signal from left to right in a continuous “waveform” pattern. (CMC7 is read like a barcode, with a series of “on/off” tests from left to right.) For example, the unusually bold bottoms of the 1, 3, and 8 in E13B will produce a specific amount of magnetism that a machine can use to recognize those characters.
For a more complete discussion of the difference between CMC7 and E13B MICR fonts, see our educational article, Battle of the MICR Fonts.