A check is a written instruction from you to your bank to pay the bearer of the check a sum of money that you specify on the piece of paper.
Checks have fallen out of use in recent years, but there are still instances in which you may need to know how to write a check, so we’re going to cover that today.
It’s no surprise if you’re not sure how to fill out a check.
Very few people use them now, as we have so many other methods of transferring money. The first thing you will include when filling out a check is usually your recipient’s name and the current date.
You don’t need your name as this will already be printed on the check.
You should see a line that says something like “Pay to the order of” and the recipient’s name belongs on the line just after those words. Do not write the recipient’s name anywhere else on the check.
Ensure that the recipient’s name is absolutely correct and ask them if in doubt. Any discrepancies could lead to them not being able to cash the check.
You fill the date in at the top right corner. There will be a blank space, usually with the word “Date” just before or just beneath it.
Next, you will write the amount that you wish to pay in numerals. When writing a check, you always include both numerals and words to minimize the risk of something being misread or misinterpreted.
You will see a box just to the right of the recipient’s name, and here you should write the numerals of the amount that you wish to pay.
If there is any blank space after the numbers, it is usually advised that you put a small line or something similar to stop anyone doctoring the check after you’ve handed it over. Avoid leaving space on the left side of the box, where somebody might be able to add a “1” to change the amount being paid.
Beneath the recipient’s name, you will see a long line. Here, you write out (in words) the full amount of dollars that you wish to pay. However, you do not write the number of cents in full. Instead, you write them as a fraction. At the end of the line, put the word “dollars.”
For example, if you wished to pay one dollar and 20 cents, you would write “one and 20/100 dollars.” If you wished to pay one dollar and 80 cents, you would write “one and 80/100 dollars.”
You don’t need to write the full words out for the cents, although you do for dollars.
Again, it is best to put a line or squiggle across any blank space on this long line so that nobody can write on it. You can also fill it in with something like “and zero cents” or “in total” if you do not wish to add cents, or if there is still space once you have done so. It is not advisable to leave a blank space.
Writing a check with cents should be straightforward once you have mastered the above instructions.
All you need to do is include them in the numerals box, and then write them as a fraction on the longer line beneath the recipient’s name. You should double-check your numbers before you start and make sure they match.
If you make an error while writing a check, scrap it and start again; the bank won’t accept a check that looks as though it has been altered, because somebody else could have altered it after you signed it.
Do make sure that the cents in the numerals box and the long line match each other, or you will confuse your bank. Don’t round either figure up or down, but write exactly the amount you want to pay.
For example, if your numerals box reads: “$20.47,” your “pay to the order of” line should read “twenty and 47/100 dollars.”
If your numerals box reads “$48.00,” your “pay to the order of” line should read “forty-eight dollars and zero cents” or “forty-eight dollars even.”
Most banks will accept some variations. For example, if you were to write “twenty dollars and forty-seven cents,” it is unlikely that the bank would refuse to cash the check, but you might struggle to fit it on the line.
The memo section does not have to be filled in, but it is a good idea to do so; it tells you and/or the recipient what the check’s purpose is. You might choose to write something such as “rent” or “contribution toward lunch.”
If you are writing a check to a company, they will likely want you to include a reference number or identification number. This helps ensure there is no confusion about who the check was paid by or what it was for.
You will rarely be writing a check with cents only, but it might happen. If so, you need to fill in the check carefully so it cannot be doctored.
In the numerals box, you should write “0.30” and keep the 0 as close to the left side of the box as possible so nobody can add, for example, an 8 before it.
On the “pay to the order of” line, you should write something like “zero and 30/100 dollars.” “No dollars and 30/100” would also be acceptable. Draw a line after the words.
Yes, you can write a check for less than a dollar, although you will probably rarely have a reason to do so. The only stipulation is that you have the money to cover the full value of the check.
In the numerals box, you would write “0.99.” On the line below, you would write something like “Zero and 99/100 dollars” or “No dollars and 99/100.”
In the numerals box, you would write “0.50.” On the line below, write “Zero and 50/100 dollars.” You could also write “Fifty cents only.”
In the bottom right hand corner, you will need to sign your name. This goes beside the memo field, and the signature must match the account holder’s signature. It has to be signed by the account holder, not by anybody else, and checks that are not signed are not considered valid. Don’t forget to sign your check!
If you make a mess of the signature, you will need to write a new check entirely; banks will not accept checks if the signature does not closely resemble the one that they have on file for you. You might be surprised by how well they can detect forgeries.
Writing a check can be a bit of a nuisance, so make sure you do it right the first time to avoid delays and frustrations on your part and your payee’s part.
Once you have completed the check, go through each box and make sure that the information is all correct and matches your intentions.