MnO-doped ZnO ceramics have been synthesized through the conventional ceramic processing route. Mn2+ ions have been incorporated into the ZnO lattice within the limits of solid solubility. By using X-band-frequency and high-field electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), we have resolved some of the main electronic transitions for the S = 5/2, I = 5/2 high-spin system and have determined accurately the EPR spin-Hamiltonian parameters. By combining data from crystallographic X-ray diffraction and EPR with the semi-empirical Newman superposition model, we have found the local configurational position of Mn2+ and have confirmed the symmetry of the lattice. The results presented in this contribution indicate that Mn ions substitute at Zn sites in ZnO. The effect of Mn2+ ions on the intrinsic defects becomes remarkable, thus the vacancy related intrinsic defect signals cannot be visible in the EPR spectrum. MnO doping affects the band gap energy of ZnO system which was confirmed via UV-Vis spectroscopy. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.