How to write a check
Knowing how to write a check is absolutely essential.
Although, you certainly don’t need to fill out a check every day!
For example, you may be wondering where to sign a check and whether you need to write the amount in cents?
Even Paper checks have lost much of their popularity in the last decade, they remain a preferred method of payment for many people. Especially, for paying taxes, rents and also for transactions between businesses.
In this article, we will answer your questions and explain the steps to follow and the proper way to write a check with cents so you will be sure it is valid and can be cashed by its beneficiary.
How to write a check with cents Step-by-Step
Issuing a cheque allows you to transfer money from your bank account to the beneficiary’s account.
Before going into the steps and the details for writing checks, here are some important precepts to know and follow:
- Do not use a pencil, but use a pen, preferably black or blue.
- Check your account balance before filling out a cheque.
- Avoid making erasures.
- Follow all the steps below in the order you wish.
It is important that all the free fields on the cheque be filled out correctly to avoid any bad surprises.
Fortunately, the process is easy, and the basic steps are listed below.
So let’s get started now.
Step 1 : Fill out the check date
The first step in filling out a check is to write the exact date when you filled out the check.
This is very important. Indeed, it will determine how long the check will be valid. And also to ensure that the bank and/or the person you give the check will know when you wrote it.
The date format should be: month, day and then year.
For your information:
In some state it is forbidden to backdate or postdate a bank check. (Check laws can vary somewhat from one state to another)
So, write the current date on the line in the upper right corner of the paper check.
Now, lets move to the next step.
Step 2 : Write the Recipient’s Name
The payee is the person or organization that will be able to cash your cheque.
If it is an individual, you can indicate “Mr.” or “Mrs.” followed by the name of the person.
If you are paying a company, it is essential to indicate the exact name of the company on the invoice.
You are not required to specify a payee on a cheque: this means that you are writing a blank check. This is extremely dangerous if the check is lost or stolen.
So, the name of the payee must be written on the left side on the line that says “Pay to the order of”.
Did you know!
It is also possible to write a check for two recipients!
Yes, don’t be surprised, writing a cheque to two people is a common way to give money to a newly married couple, or to make payments to people who share a common asset, usually a house or business…
Step 3: Write out the payment amount in figures
In order to fill out a check properly, you will need to write the amount in figures in the box reserved for this purpose. It will be written in that box in the top right corner, as shown in the filled out check example picture.
Write numerically the amount you want to pay. Don’t forget to write a comma for amounts greater than a thousand and also write a period between the dollars and cents.
The currency sign “$” is not mandatory.
Be sure to write the amount as far to the left as possible to avoid any risk of fraud (such as adding a number to the left).
You should also add a dash after the amount to avoid fraudulent additions of numbers to the right side.
This amount should not exceed the funds you currently have in your checking account!
Write the exact amount of money owed in figures on the right side of the check in the large box with thick outlines.
Step 4: Write the payment amount in words
The next step is to write the amount of the check in full, even the cents.
This way, make sure your handwriting is clear and readable. Also, avoid potential spelling mistakes. You can refer to this article that will help you learn the essential rules for writing numbers in words.
For a check with cents amount, we write it as a fraction above 100. If the dollar amount is a rounded number, it is preferred to write “and 00/100” for more clarity.
On the line below “Pay to the order of,” write the payment amount in words and avoid leaving any blank spaces before or after the amount to be paid.
Once the amount is written down, it is advisable to fill in the remaining space by drawing a horizontal line to the end to avoid any additions.
Example for how to write a check without cents:
- For an amount of $392 you will write :
➽ Three hundred ninety-two and 00/100 dollars
Example for how to write a check with cents:
- For an amount of $871.99 you will write :
➽ Eight hundred seventy-one and 99/100 dollars
Please note, it is extremely important that the amount written in figures and the amount written in letters are identical. In the event that there is a difference, the written amount will take priority.
Step 5: Write a Memo Note (Optional step!)
If you write a lot of checks, and you want to keep track of your check payments, you should keep a memo note that describes the purpose of each check.
Although it is not a requirement, the memo area is very useful for tracking payments in case of problems. However, you can use the memo line to provide information about the payment date of a utility bill or a monthly rent or even to record your account number.
The “memo” area, which is reserved for notes, may change location depending on the type of checkbook you have or whether you are writing a personal or business check.
It is recommended that you use a check register to fill in your check payment information.
Another option to consider is the use of check management or accounting software. Especially if you often use checks for your payments and need an efficient solution to manage your check books and track your banking transactions.
Step 6: Sign the check
Signing the check is essential, the signature is placed at the bottom left of the check. This is necessary to be able to certify its validity and show the bank that you agree to pay the amount indicated to the right beneficiary. Otherwise, it would have no value and cannot be cashed.
It is therefore important to make sure you sign your check to guarantee its validity in case of control. Always use the same signature you used when opening the current account to avoid any risk of rejection.
The signature must imperatively be the last step in writing out checks. So, never sign a blank check if you want to be far from any problems!
Before signing, it will be best to detach your cheque from the checkbook. This will prevent the embossed signature mark of your check from being found on the next check underneath it, which could make it possible to imitate your signature in case your checkbook is lost or stolen.
Written check examples:
Here are some filled out check examples that you can use as a reference when writing a check. Of Course, this is only a sample how to write a check.
How to write a check for 1000 dollars
How to write a check for 100 dollars
Caution and advices to avoid problems when filling out a check
Follow the tips below to reduce the risk of fraud on your bank account and avoid common check problems:
- Never sign a blank check: To avoid any risk, if you do not know the amount or who should cash the check, do not sign it.
- Always use a pen that cannot be erased to fill out your check, that way you will avoid any attempts to falsify the amount or any information filled in the check.
- Don’t leave any blank spaces, especially before and after the amount written in numbers or letters. Draw a line at the end of the reserved space.
- Always use the same signature and avoid erasures to prevent your check from being rejected by the bank.
- If your check is filled out using a check printing machine, verify the printout before signing it.
- When you make a payment by check, you are supposed to have this money available in your bank account. Otherwise, an NSF check can cause serious legal issues for not sufficient funds!
How to track your check spending
You should track and record all cheque transactions (expenses and deposits) made to your bank account.
There are several methods and tools available to help you manage your bank account and balance a checkbook. Some people use Excel, you can now import all your banking activity into Ms Excel and track your spending from there. But, the most efficient solution is to use accounting or check management software. This will also help you to fill out a check automatically and without errors!
A check register is also useful to keep track of your check deposits and expenses, as well as card payments and any other activity on your account.
Each time you use a check, you will record in your register the check number, which can be found in the upper right corner of the check.
This helps you to ensure that none of your checks are missing and to remind you when you need to reorder a new checkbook.
At the end of each month, when you receive your bank statement, take the time to balance your current account. Re-check all charges and contact your banker directly as soon as you find any discrepancies.
Frequently asked questions when filling out a check
Q: If I write a check to someone when will it clear?
Q: To pay bills, what date should I write on a check?
Q: Is it possible to write a Check to Two People?
Q: How do I write a check for less than a dollar?
Q: What happens when you have a NSF check?
Q: When do checks expire?
In general, a check is valid for 180 days or 6 months. However, this can vary from one type of cheque to another.
Q: Can I use the '&' sign in place of and when filling the amount in letters?
Q: How can I write 90.00 dollars in words?
How to write a void check
Whether you’ve made a mistake while filling out a check, like writing a wrong payee name or wrong date or even if you made a spelling mistake when spelling out numbers in the check, you will need to void it because it is risky to keep around.
As you will see voiding a check isn’t that difficult, here’s what you have to do to void a check so it will not be accepted for payment anymore :
All you need is a blue or black pen (not a pencil!).
Just write a BIG “VOID” across the front of the check.
Alternatively, you can write the word “VOID” in the space reserved to write the amount of the check (write over it if you’ve already written the amount). Also, do the same thing with the payee, the amount, the date as well as signature lines.
How to cancel a lost or stolen check
Stopping payment on a check means giving instructions to your bank not to carry out the payment of the check when it is presented for payment.
You can make a stop payment on your bank check in case of error, theft or loss of one or more checks to prevent any unauthorized use of the check.
This must be done with your bank as soon as possible. Whether your check is “blank” or filled out, the procedure remains the same:
- Contact your bank immediately via its emergency phone number.
- Confirm the opposition in writing to the bank indicating the number of the check involved.
- If the checkbook has been stolen, go to the police station to make a complaint.
Then, the bank will process your opposition request as quickly as possible. If they consider that the cancellation of this check is legitimate, it will be recorded in the register of irregular checks so that it can no longer be cashed.
- Please note that stopping your bank check will not be free of charge, and most banks will charge you the associated fees.
- If your salary check has been lost or stolen, you must contact your employer (the issuer of the check) so that he can make the check opposition himself.
What is a Certified check?
A certified check is a very secure guarantee of payment. The issuing bank guarantees that the signatory has the amount written on his account. This allows the beneficiary to ensure that the necessary funds are available and blocked for his benefit for a certain period of time.
Certified cheques are most often used for large purchases!