How to Write a Check

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Last updated on August 4th, 2019

Checks are still surprisingly common, even in today’s digital currency world. Writing a check is an easy and important skill every adult should know. This post tells you exactly how to do it.

Paper checks are an effective and inexpensive tool for moving money, but you probably don’t write a check every day or maybe you’ve never done it before. The more often you write checks, the more natural the process will become. Move through each step one-by-one.

How to Write a Check

  • Date the Check – Write the date on the line at the top right-hand corner. In most cases, you’ll use today’s date, which helps you and the recipient keep accurate records. You can also postdate the check.
  • Payee – Write the name of the person or company you’re sending the check to next to the line that says “Pay to the Order of”. Avoid writing checks payable to cash – it’s convenient but risky.

  • Payment Amount in Numbers – Write the exact amount, using dollars and cents. If the check is for two hundred dollars, write “200.00.”

  • Payment Amount in Words – On the line below “Pay to the order of,” write out the dollar amount in words to match the numerical dollar amount you wrote in the box.For example, if you are paying $180.75, you will write “one hundred eighty and 75/100.” To write a check with cents, be sure to put the cents amount over 100. If the dollar amount is a round number, still include “and 00/100” for additional clarity.

  • Sign the Check –  Sign the check on the line in the bottom-right corner. Use the same name and signature on file at your bank. This step is essential – a check will not be valid without a signature.

  • Write a Memo – “Memo” is optional, but helpful for knowing why you wrote the check. It is the place to write information that your payee will use to process your payment.

    For example, you could write your Social Security Number on this line when paying the IRS, or an account number for utility payments.

After you write the check, make a record of the payment. A check register is an ideal place to do this, whether you use an electronic or paper register. Recording the payment prevents you from spending the money twice – the funds will still show as available in your account until after the check is deposited or cashed, and that could take a while. It’s best to make a note of the payment while it’s fresh in your mind.