How to Properly Fill Out a Check – A Step-by-Step Guide

The advent of debit cards and cash-transferring services has undoubtedly changed how we handle transactions, making traditional checks seem like a relic of the past. However, understanding how to write a check is still valuable, as some entities and individuals prefer this payment method. For instance, landlords often request rent checks due to the paper trail they provide and the associated fees with credit and debit cards.

Ensuring everything is accurate to avoid potential issues when writing a check. Writing a check might seem easy, but you must ensure everything runs smoothly. This guide will delineate writing a check into six straightforward steps.

Step 1: Write the Date

Every check must have a date to be valid. In the top right-hand corner of the check, write today’s date. Various date formats are acceptable, such as “September 30, 2021,” “September 30, 2021,” or “9/30/2021.” It is crucial to use a universally recognized format in your country to ensure everything is clear.

Step 2: Write the Recipient’s Name

After the words “Pay to the Order of,” write the recipient’s legal first and last name. Avoid using nicknames or abbreviations. In the case of a check made out to multiple parties, employ “and” when both parties are required for cashing or “or” if only one party needs to be present. Use the company’s preferred name if the check is for a company.

Step 3: Add the Dollar Amount Numerically

The check’s monetary value is expressed numerically in the designated dollar amount box, such as $5.75. Place the first number close to the left edge to prevent alterations. Drawing a line after the last numeral helps safeguard against changes.

Step 4: Spell Out the Dollar Amount

On the dollar amount line, spell out the amount textually with cents expressed as a fraction. For instance, for a check of $150.50, write, “One-hundred fifty and 50/100.” Fill the entire line and use a line to fill any open space.

Step 5: Add Any Notes

Write relevant notes on the memo line, such as the service date, the purpose of the check, or an account number. While leaving this section blank is acceptable, adding information can help track and avoid disputes.

Step 6: Sign the Check

Sign your full name on the signature line using the same signature and exact spelling as recorded by the bank. This step is crucial for the check’s validity.

After completing these steps, recording the check details in your check register is essential. Include the check number, date, recipient, and amount. It helps in tracking and balancing your finances.

Understanding the Different Sections of a Check

Account Holder’s Name and Address

The top-left corner contains the account holder’s name and address. Avoid including unnecessary details like phone numbers or birthdates to enhance security.

Check Number

The top-right corner displays the check number, typically a short series of numbers that help track the check’s usage.

Routing Number

The routing number is a nine-digit code below the memo line on a check. It identifies the issuing bank.

Account Number

To the right of the routing number, the account number identifies the specific account within the bank.

Ensuring Check Security

Use Permanent Ink

Prevent check-washing by using permanent blue or black gel-based ink. Gel-based ink traps color in the paper, making alterations difficult.

Protect Routing and Account Numbers

Keep your routing and account numbers secure. Store your chequebook in a locked drawer or safe and send such information securely through encrypted services.

Voiding a Check

If you make a mistake on a check, write “VOID” across it and dispose of it securely to prevent unauthorized use.

Commonly Asked Questions

Is it permissible to write a check for a future date?

To delay payment on a check:

  1. Write a future date on it.
  2. Check local laws because the bank may not honour postdated checks.
  3. Ensure you have enough money in your account on the specified date to avoid fees.

How Do I Fix a Mistake on a Check?

For minor mistakes, cross out the error, write the correction, and initial next to it. For significant errors, void the check and start fresh.

Can I Write a Check to Get Cash?

Indeed, you have the option to write a check to yourself and subsequently cash it at the bank. The bank, however, uses caution, as some banks may have policies against cashing checks made out to cash.

Why Did the Store Hand Me Back My Check After Scanning It?

Stores may return the check to you after scanning it to create an electronic payment. The physical check is no longer needed once the electronic transaction is processed.


Although writing checks may not be as prevalent as once, they are still helpful in different circumstances. By comprehending the correct method of filling out a check, you can guarantee precision, safety, and adherence to banking regulations. By adhering to the steps and rules, you can confidently handle check writing in today’s technologically advanced era.

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