6 Popular Security Features Used on Documents and Labels

Ensuring your sensitive documents are secure is a necessity whether you run a Fortune 500 company or are self-employed. Documents and labels with security features are used routinely in financial institutions, pharmacies, medical offices, law enforcement agencies, government and legal offices. These security features often help to identify documents or labels that have been copied, altered, forged or tampered with, and deter forgers and thieves. Fortunately, there are several security features available to keep your sensitive material safe. Here are six of the most popular:


Watermarks help to identify an original document by displaying an image when the document is held up to light. Watermarks are typically translucent designs, created by altering the distribution of the thread within a document. Most watermarks are used to identify a specific brand or manufacturer and cannot be copied, meaning that watermarked documents are hard to alter or reproduce.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)

Magnetic ink character recognition is most commonly used in the financial industry to identify account numbers and routing numbers on checks electronically, similar to barcodes. Unlike a barcode, MICR encoding allows machine readers to scan and recognize the numbers through data transmitted in the ink itself, while also allowing humans to see and read the account numbers normally. MICR encoding is mainly used by the financial industry, but large corporations and government agencies also use the technology to quickly scan and organize large quantities of documents.

Microprint Signature Lines

In a microprint signature line, the words “Authorized Signature” appear in tiny type on the original document, appearing like a normal signature line to the naked eye. However, if that document is scanned, the microprint appears as a blurry, dotted line on the copy. A small “MP” near the signature line alerts the recipient of the document to search for the small font to indicated authenticity. This is another popular security feature mainly used in the financial industry, but is useful in other scenarios requiring signature authentication, such as legal documents.

Anti-Copying Marks

Anti-copying marks help to prevent forged documents, as the marks are nearly invisible until the document is scanned or copied, at which point, the mark becomes much more visible, often displaying text that reads “copy” or “void.” An anti-copying mark is a popular security feature used for a wide variety of sensitive documents, such as checks, prescription pads and legal documents. It creates an unpleasant surprise for the forger or thief and keeps your information safe.

Serial Numbering

Serial numbers are used for tracking documents and products, but can be much more complex than they appear. Many serial numbers use prefixes or ranges of numbers and characters to identify information regarding a document or product. This can help to trace these items back to their location or origin or identify a time period when they were printed or manufactured. This is often a regulatory requirement for food, beverage, medical and nutraceutical product labels. Serial numbers may also serve as an anti-forgery feature as they often include dummy numbers that convey nothing and identify an attempted reproduction of a document or label.

Self-Voiding Labels

Self-voiding labels create a seal that shows when an item or document has been tampered with, by displaying text that reads “void” when that seal is removed. One popular use for these labels is at gas pumps, where worry of credit card skimmers has prompted several companies to add these labels to their credit card readers. This allows customers and employees to easily identify card readers on pumps that have been tampered with. These labels also have practical uses outside of retail, such as law enforcement and medical applications, and can help control access to files and containers.

FMI Printing and Distribution has been producing secure documents and labels for decades, and has the right technology and experience to help guide you through the process of discovering a security solution that works best for your company. Contact us today at 850.576.0171 or online for more information.

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