Step-by-Step: How to Write a Check

by W D Adkins
Paper checks still are a useful way to pay many bills.

A checking account at a bank or credit union allows you to make financial transactions safely and conveniently. These days, you can pay bills and buy things online with a debit card or via a smartphone. Still, don’t forget about the traditional paper check, though; it comes in handy. For instance, not everyone is set up to take payments electronically, but you can write a paper check to just about anybody. A check has to be backed up by enough money in your account to cover it. If you don’t have sufficient funds, you could incur a stiff overdraft fee.

Write the date in the space provided. The date line is on the right of the check just below the check number printed in the upper right corner of the check. Also, look in the upper left corner where your name is printed. If your address is not printed there as well, write it in.

Enter the name of the payee on the line that starts: “Pay to the order of.” The payee is the person or institution to whom you are writing the check. Following the payee line is a space for the amount of the check. Write the amount in numerals in this space. Always include a decimal point and digits for cents. For example, write “12.00,” not just “12,” if your check amount is $12.

Write the amount of the check in words on the line just below the payee line. Writing out the amount reduces errors and makes it more difficult for someone to alter the check. For example, for $105.10, write “One Hundred Five Dollars and 10/100.”

Record the purpose of the check in the space located at the lower left of the check. For example, you might write: “Billy's baseball uniform” or "Donation to church fund."

Sign the check in the space at the lower right of the check. Sign your name as it appears in the upper left corner of the check. For example, if the printed portion of your check includes your middle name or initial, include that in your signature.

Enter the date of the check, the check number, the payee’s name and the amount in the ledger that came with your paper checks. Always do this immediately so your transaction records are up-to-date. Entering checks in the ledger promptly will help you avoid accidentally writing a check for more than you have in your bank account.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.

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