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How to Write a Check: A Complete Guide

Writing a check is quick and easy, and we show you how to do it step-by-step.

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Has it been a while since you’ve written a check or is this your first time filling out a check? Writing a check is quick and easy, and we take you through it step by step.

How to write a check

Step 1: Date the check

First, write today’s date in the top right corner of the check. This lets you, the bank, and the recipient know when the check is from.

We recommend writing out the date in the following format to prevent confusion: Month Day, Year. For example, Sept 4, 2019, or Jan 3, 2020.

Step 2: Who is the check for?

Next, fill out who you are sending the check to in the Pay to the order of line.

Is it to a person? Make sure to include his or her full name.

Is it to a business? You will want to write the full name of the business and include any suffixes like LLC.

You can also write “Cash” in this line. If you do this, anyone who has your check can cash it or deposit it. This is not recommended because your check could get lost or stolen.

Step 3: How much money are you sending?

You will need to write how the amount of money you want to send in two places.

First, you write the amount in numbers in a box on the right. For example, you could write “$100.00” or “153.48.”

Be sure to include the cents even if you are sending a whole dollar amount (for example, $500.00 or $800.00).

You should start writing the number near the left end of the box. If there is any space, you can draw a squiggly horizontal line. This prevents fraud.

You will want to write the number clearly because many ATMs can deposit checks and they use software to convert your handwriting into numbers.

Step 4: Write the payment amounts in words

You will need to write out the payment amount in words below the Pay to the order of line.

For example, if you are paying $105.35, you would write “one hundred and five dollars and thirty-five cents.” You can alternatively write “one hundred and five dollars 35/100.”

If you are paying $500.00, you would write “five hundred dollars and zero cents” or “five hundred dollars 00/100.”

If there is extra space at the end of what you write on the line, you can draw a squiggly horizontal line to prevent someone else from writing more.

Why do you need to write the payment amount in numbers and words? This helps prevent any ambiguity for the bank. Let’s say you wrote $100.00 but your 1 looks like a 7. The payment amount in words would resolve this.

Step 5: Write a memo or note

Writing a memo or note in the bottom left corner is optional. Sometimes this is labeled “For.”

It can help you and the recipient keep track of what the check is for. For example, if you are paying your rent, you can write the month the payment is for. For example, you might write, “Sept rent.”

Some businesses might request that you put your account number in the memo section.

Step 6: Sign the check

Finally, you need to sign the check in the bottom right corner. Without a signature, the check is not valid and cannot be deposited.

Ordering more checks

If you are out of checks, you can order more checks from your bank or from a variety of providers online.

Tips for writing checks

When you write a check, you want to avoid any security risks. You want your check to be used as it was intended. The payment amount and recipient should not be altered. Follow these tips to reduce your chance of check fraud.

Write in a blue or black pen
Don’t use pencil or an erasable pen because other people can then modify your check.
Sign only when everything on the check is filled out
An unsigned check cannot be cashed, so only sign when you are sure all the information on the check is correct.
No blank checks
If you are unsure what the payment amount is, don’t give out a blank check for someone else to fill out. This essentially gives someone unlimited access to your checking account.

Wait until you know, or bring an unsigned check with you that you can fill out.
Keep a copy
Keep a copy of your check for your own record keeping. You can keep digital or physical copies.

Digital copy: The easiest way to keep a digital copy of your check is to use your phone to take a photo of it.

Physical copy: If you want paper copies, you can order checkbooks with carbon copies. These have a thin piece of paper behind each check that will record what you write on the check. Make sure you apply enough pressure when writing, pressure is how the information is copied.

FAQ

Can I write a check to myself?

Yes, you can write a check payable to yourself.

Why would you do this? You might want to move funds between accounts, for example, from your bank to a brokerage account.

How to write cents on a check?

There are two ways to write cents on a check.

When you are writing out the payment amount in numbers, you would write it like $538.45 or $659.00.

When you are writing out the payment amount in words, there are two ways to write cents. Let’s take the example $35.88.

You could write “thirty-five dollars and eighty-eight cents” or “thirty-five dollars 88/100.”