In a world where you can pay someone with the click of a button, writing checks may seem outdated. Yet, there are times when writing a check is the easiest way — or the only way — to pay for goods or services. As long as it’s a valid form of payment, you should know how checks are written. Follow this guide on how to write a check so you can avoid any mistakes.
Here’s How To Write a Check — With Examples
You can avoid costly errors when you know how to write a check to someone. It’s a good idea to fill in the check from top to bottom so you don’t miss a label.
1. Write the Date
Write the correct date in the date label near the top right-hand corner of the check. Use the current month, day and year. You can postdate a check by writing a future date in the hope that it won’t be cashed until then. However, your account must have enough money to cover the check because the bank can deposit or cash it at any time as long as it’s signed.
2. Write the Recipient’s Name
Write the full, proper name of the person or company receiving the check on the “pay to” line. You’ll find it in the middle of the check, labeled “Pay to the order of.”
Good To Know
You can write your name on the “pay to” line and deposit or cash the check like you would a check someone else had written to you. Alternatively, you can write the check to “Cash,” but keep in mind that doing so can be risky since anyone can cash a check written to cash.
3. Write the Amount in Numbers
You will write the amount of the check in two places. The first is the box to the right of the “pay to” line. That’s where you write the amount of the check in dollars and cents separated by a decimal point. Fill the entire box so that no one can add numbers to the amount.
4. Write the Amount in Words
Spell out the check amount on the payment line located under the “pay to” line. The amount written out on the line must match what you wrote in the box above the line.
How To Write a Check Amount With Cents
Use a fraction to indicate any cents — or no cents, as in the image above. For example, write “50/100” for an amount ending in 50 cents.
5. Add a Memo
The memo line in the bottom left corner of the check is where you can write a note, such as one that indicates the purpose of the check. The memo is optional.
6. Write Your Signature
After you’ve filled out all the other sections of the check, sign the check on the signature line in the bottom right corner. Use the same signature style your bank has on file. If your signature looks different from the bank records, your check may not be valid.
Check Writing Safety Tips and Takeaways
Check fraud includes forging or endorsing checks that belong to someone else, using chemicals to remove information from a check and stealing or counterfeiting checks that belong to another person.
Take these precautions to avoid being a fraud victim:
Ways To Prevent Fraud
- Use pigment-ink pens to write checks.
- Fill out the entire check before signing it.
- Keep your signature consistent.
- If you make a mistake, write the word “void” in capital letters across the entire front of the check before disposing of it.
The bank may refuse to reimburse you for loss resulting from check fraud if it can prove fraud was the result of your own negligence.
This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.