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Financial Literacy

How to Properly Write a Check

The rise in electronic payments and mobile banking technology has quickly overshadowed traditional check-writing. In 2013, the Federal Reserve found that paying by check had decreased by over 50% between 2000 and 2012. Despite the drop, knowing how to write a check is still necessary. Even now, eighteen billion checks are written every year, and 70% of renters still pay by check, according to Paylease.

Even if you rarely use your checkbook, it’s important to refresh your check-writing skills. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to properly fill out a check.

6 quick steps to writing a check


You can fill out the date in
multiple ways:1. Fill out today’s date

  • August 1, 2016
  • 8/1/16
  • 08/01/2016

2. Write the recipient’s name after “pay to the order of”

Make sure to use the individual’s first and last name or the organization’s full name or legal name. It is a good idea to confirm the proper name with the recipient of the check before writing.

3. Fill in the amount

Next to the $ sign is where you’ll enter the specific amount of the check using numbers.

Some examples:

  • $50.00
  • $25.75
  • $0.50
  • $250.00

4. Spell out the amount

Below the recipient’s name, you’ll spell out the amount you wrote in numbers. Make sure to include cents and draw a line through any unfilled space.

The above examples spelled out:

  • Fifty Dollars and 0/100 cents
  • Twenty-five dollars and 75/100 cents
  • Zero dollars and 50/100 cents
  • Two hundred fifty dollars and 0/100 cents

Incorrect use of “and”:

  • Two hundred and fifty dollars and 0/100 cents

5. Sign the check

The check is not valid without a signature, so make sure to sign the bottom right-hand line before sending in the payment.

6. Memo (Optional)

The memo line is meant to help describe the check’s payment purpose. For example, “June Car Payment”, “Utility Repair”, “Happy Graduation”, etc. Most of the time it is optional, unless the recipient specifies otherwise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What if I make a mistake when filling out the check?
    If you make a mistake, simply write VOID in large letters across the check, rip it up, throw it away, and use a new check.
  • When do you sign the back of the check?
    You only need to sign the back of the check when you are the recipient and would like to deposit or cash the check.
  • What are the numbers across the bottom of the check?
    There are three numbers at the bottom of your check. The first 9-digit number is the routing transit number, which identifies your financial institution during a transaction. The second is your account number, which identifies your specific account at the financial institution. The third is the check number, which identifies the check you have used to make payment. They are located at the bottom of the check in a unique font so that computers can easily read the numbers when the check is being processed.

Now that you’ve taken a quick refresher course, you will be able to write a check easily and with confidence! Share this article with someone you know who needs a refresher as well!

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