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How to write a check: A step-by-step guide

close up of hands signing a check
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close up of hands signing a check
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If you haven’t written one in a while (or ever), here is a handy guide on how to write a check.

picture of a check
Photo by Adobe Stock/Illustration by Bankrate

Steps to fill out a check

Many consumers send money electronically these days, but occasionally it may still be necessary to pay by check. Checks can be ordered from banks or third-party printers. Here are the steps to fill one out.

1. Fill in the date

Write the current date on the line at the top right-hand corner. This information notifies the financial institution and the recipient of when you wrote it. The date can be written in long form or all numbers. Either 6/14/2022 or June 14, 2022, could work, for example.

2. Write the name of the payee

On the line that says “Pay to the order of,” write the name of the individual or company you’d like to pay, known as the payee. Use the payee’s full name instead of a nickname.

If you don’t know the exact name, you can write “cash.” Be aware that if a check is made out to cash, anyone can cash or deposit it.

3. Write the check amount in numeric form

There are two spots on a check for stating the amount you’re paying. The first is a small box to the right of the line for the recipient’s name.

Write the numerical dollar amount in this box. For example, you may write $100.30 if you wish to write a check for one hundred dollars and thirty cents. Make sure you write this clearly so that the bank can subtract the correct amount from your account.

4. Write the check amount in words

Next, write out the dollar amount in words on the line below “Pay to the order of,” making sure it matches the numerical amount.

Add the cent amount over 100. For example, if you wrote $100.30 in the box, you’ll write “One hundred and 30/100.” If the check is for $100 or another round number, still include 00/100 for clarity.

5. Write a memo

The memo section of the check is optional, but it’s good idea to fill it out because it can serve as a reminder of what the check was for.

If you’re writing the check to pay for your for a haircut, for example, you can write “haircut.” If the check’s for a bill payment, write your account number in the memo area.

A company may ask you to write your account number or invoice number in this section, which helps ensure the payment is applied to the correct account.

6. Sign the check

Sign your name on the line at the check’s bottom right hand corner.

Sign legibly and make sure to use the same signature on file at your bank. A signature confirms to the bank that you agree to pay the stated amount to the payee. That’s it, your check should be all set to make a payment! (You may also want to check out Bankrate’s list of the best checking accounts.)

–Freelance writer Anna Baluch contributed to a previous version of this article.

Written by
René Bennett
Banking writer
René Bennett is a writer for Bankrate, reporting on banking products and personal finance.
Edited by
Wealth editor
Reviewed by
Founder of Financial Staples
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Part of  Introduction to Checking Accounts