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How to Write a Check — in 6 Simple Steps

Doug Whiteman
·3 min read
How to Write a Check — in 6 Simple Steps
How to Write a Check — in 6 Simple Steps

Writing checks used to be a regular thing for most people, but check usage has been in a steady decline. In a 2017 Bank of America survey, 71% of consumers predicted kids under 10 will never know how to write checks.

But it's something today's adults should still know how to do. Because despite newer electronic methods for making payments, there are still plenty of occasions when a check is necessary.

Never written a check? This easy step-by-step guide shows how to do it.

1. Enter the date

Business man prepare writing a check
Icatnews / Shutterstock

Directly below the check number in the top right-hand corner of a check, you'll see a blank for the date.

Most likely, you'll want to write the date when you're filling out the check. But if you don't want the check to be cashed right away, you'll put in a future date. That makes the check invalid until that day arrives.

Follow the month-date-year format when entering the date. In other words, the date should appear as "August 5, 2020" or "08/05/2020."

2. Enter the recipient's name

Business man prepare writing a check
Icatnews / Shutterstock

The language "Pay to the order of" may seem a little strange or formal. It simply means you enter the name of the person or entity that will be receiving and cashing the check.

Checks can be issued to individuals or businesses, and the rules are a little different for each.

For individuals, write out both first and last names: "John Smith." For businesses, make sure that you use the full, formal name of the business: "Johnson Heating & Air Conditioning Inc."

Making a check out to "Cash" means you're allowing anyone to cash the check. This option should be used only in rare instances, because it's obviously not very secure.

3. Enter the amount in number form

A Check is signed paying bills in ballpoint pen on the desk pay promise
Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock

In the little box to the right of the recipient's name, enter the numerals for the amount you want to pay.

Make sure you accurately enter the amount, down to the penny.

4. Enter the amount in word form

The line below the recipient's name is where you enter the amount a second time, in word form. That means $50 becomes "Fifty" and $436 becomes "Four-hundred thirty-six."

You enter the cents as a fraction: 25/100, 50/100, 82/100, and so on.

Don't write in the word "dollars" because that will already be printed on the check. So, if the amount is $2,176.83, you would write in "Two-thousand one-hundred seventy-six and 83/100."

5. Write what the check is for

The memo section at the bottom of the check is optional, but it helps to explain the purpose of the check.

For example, if you're paying a certain invoice, you might write "For Invoice 1010." If you're paying your rent, you might say "October 2018 Rent."

6. Sign the check

hand man signed check
IMAGENFX / Shutterstock

The last, but possibly most important, step is to sign the check.

An unsigned check is invalid and cannot be cashed. So don't ever forget to scribble your name on the line as you finish.

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