X9.100-181 – Tough TIFF Details

ANSI Standard X9.100-181 is a specification related to electronic image exchange of check image data.  The scope of this standard is to define specific TIFF fields that can be used and the allowable values for those fields that will support interoperability for check image exchange processing between financial institutions.

This standard only addresses the use of G4 bi-level image (black/white) compressions within the TIFF 6.0 structure.”

Refer to the ANSI site for obtaining a copy of this standard.


Image exchange standards have adopted the TIFF 6.0 specification as the image format scheme. Although TIFF 6.0 is a mature specification it was designed with a lot of flexibility to support a wide range of applications. In addition, many of the TIFF fields are open for different interpretations. This flexibility is producing many different variations of TIFF image formats that many times are incompatible with the TIFF image viewers and image applications that need to process them for check image exchange.

As many new scanning devices and applications are being developed for check imaging, the purpose of this standard is to provide guidance to the financial industry by defining the most commonly supported and least problematic uses of TIFF fields and their values for the exchange of images within the financial industry.

What does this mean for a financial services provider?

It means that there are images being captured and exchanged today that may break (not be able to be viewed, saved, etc.) the various financial institutions’ software payments systems that need to process them. This standard also defines a class of image formats that can now be rejected or returned for reasons of not meeting the required image format standards. These issues can lead to an increase in operational costs for dealing with image format exceptions, and increase a financial institution's risk of losses for both creating and receiving images in wrong formats.

The standard focuses on seven key issues regarding TIFF tags:

  • Multistrip
  • Byte-order
  • Photometric Interpretation
  • Fill Order
  • Orientation
  • Resolutions
  • Private Tags

The standard specifies a minimum set of required tags with rules for the required value contents. The following table summarizes the required tags.

Tag Requirement
ImageWidth Must be a valid value
ImageLength Must be a valid value
Compression Only Group4 Fax – T.6
Photometric Interpretation Image bits of 0 are imaged as white, image bits of 1   are imaged as black
StripOffsets Multi-strip image formats are not allowed
RowsPerStrip This must equal the “ImageLength” field
StripByteCounts Only one image strip allowed
XResolution Only 200 or 240 pixels per inch allowed
YResolution Only 200 or 240 pixels per inch allowed


Additionally, the standard allows some optional tags which will be up to the discretion of the receiving financial institution to allow them or not. The next table shows these optional tags with the acceptable value:


Tag Requirement
NewSubfileType Multi-page TIFF formats are not allowed
BitsPerSample Only Black and White Images allowed
Thresholding Standard does not allow dithering or half toning of   images
FillOrder Only TIFF 6.0 default allowed
Orientation Normal Portrait Mode (Origin of the image is top left   corner)
SamplesPerPixel Black and White Images only have sample of 1
T6Options Only standard CCITT G4 compression allowed
ResolutionUnit Inches


All My Papers has developed the X9 QUALIFIER software application that will test the images contained in X9.37, aka ICL, files for conformance to this new standard. It will also detect non conforming items due to image quality and MICR Mismatch errors. It also detects balancing and file format problems. This can be used in operations to detect X9.37 files for nonconforming images. The complete range of tests that X9 QUALIFIER will perform include:

  • Compliance to X9.100-181
  • Resolution tag values match resolution of the actual image
  • Images can be decompressed
  • Images comply with TIFF 6.0 syntax rules
  • 9.37 file image size data match the actual TIFF image sizes
  • Images are Intel format (Little Endian)
  • X9.37 file has no missing images
  • IQA tests that includes darkness and dimension recommended by ECCHO rules
  • MICR Mismatch errors

Click for more information about the X9 QUALIFIER

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