Though many people might argue the practice is obsolete, knowing how to write a check is still essential to managing your funds and having a checking account. Even in our digital era, there will still be times when checks are necessary…and sometimes even preferred.
Use our step-by-step guide on how to write a check correctly and securely, so the next time you need to take out the checkbook, you’ll know all the key components of how to fill out personal checks.
Filling Out a Check
Learning how to fill out a check isn’t hard, but you must pay attention to accuracy and details.
Writing the date
Write the current date in MM/DD/YYYY format. This ensures both parties (you and the person you’re writing the check to) know the exact date the transaction occurred. It can also help you keep track of payments for future reference.
Writing the payee name
When writing out a check, you need to enter the payee’s name clearly. The payee is the person you’re writing the check to – they’re also known as the recipient.
Checks have a “Pay To” line where you’ll write the payee’s name. You want to be sure that you spell the name correctly and that your writing is legible, so the recipient can deposit or cash your check without any issues.
Writing the amount in numerals
In the numerical box, you’ll write down how much you want to pay with the check.
Here, you’ll use numerals – for example, $50.00. This makes it easy for banks or other financial institutions to read the amount quickly and process the check. Pay attention to the dollars and cents you are writing, use a decimal point, and write legibly so the dollar amount isn’t in question.
Writing the amount in words
On the line underneath the name, you should write the dollar amount using words – for example: “fifty dollars.”
This added precaution is intended to prevent unauthorized adjustments and alterations to your check. Without it, it would be easy to add an extra zero in the numeral box, turning a $50 check into $500.
This won’t be possible if you’ve written out the words “FIFTY DOLLARS and 0/100s” on the line underneath the name. Make sure you spell the amount correctly and add the “cents/100s” if the amount isn’t even.
Writing a memo (optional)
While this part isn’t always necessary, sometimes when writing a check it’s helpful to add a memo in the bottom left line of the check for tracking purposes.
You can include a very quick, simple note about the goal for the payment. For example, you might say “June piano lessons “or “Tennis camp. Brief notes like this can help you if you ever need to go back and check payments to somebody.
Signing and Endorsing the Check
Once you fill out all the required information in your check, it’s time to authorize it. Signing a check is critical as it tells the bank to release funds from your account. Also, endorsing a check might be necessary if you’re depositing or cashing someone else’s check.
Signing the check
The signature is one of the most important parts of writing a check. Without it, your recipient cannot cash or deposit the check and receive the funds.
Sign your name on the designated line at the bottom right corner of the check. Your signature validates and authorizes all information on the check.
Endorsing the check (if necessary)
If you have a check you’re trying to deposit, you’ll need to endorse it. This means signing your name on the back, which tells the bank that you’re exchanging the check for the funds – you can either get cash back or deposit the funds into your account.
To endorse a check correctly:
- Turn the check over and look for the words “Endorse Here” – this generally appears on one edge of the backside. It’s often in a designated area of the check which is known as the endorsement zone. It can be marked by lines that run parallel across the paper surface.
- Sign your name within the endorsement zone using the same handwriting style you use for all financial transactions.
- If you’re making a mobile deposit, you might add something like “for mobile deposit only at X bank only.”
Recording the Check in Your Register
After writing a check, record the check amount, date, pay to name, and check number in your check register to balance it against your online banking or paper statement after the check is cashed.
Be sure to subtract the amount you wrote the check for from your bank balance so you have an accurate idea of how much money you have in your account.
Depositing the Check
You can deposit a check in several ways. You can choose to:
- Use your mobile banking app and take a digital picture of the check – note you’ll still need to endorse the check to make a mobile deposit.
- The ATM at your bank
- Physically go into the bank and see a teller
Regardless of how you make a deposit, don’t forget to endorse the check and fill out a deposit slip if you go to the teller.
Tips for making a mobile deposit
Mobile banking makes depositing a check easier than ever. To make a mobile deposit, you need the check, a mobile device, online banking set up, and a pen to endorse the check.
- Open your mobile app and click the button that says “Deposit Check.”
- Endorse the back of the check and write “For mobile deposit only.”
- Enter the dollar amount and cents that the check is made out for.
- Your app will prompt you to take a picture of the check’s front and back.
- It’s a good idea to keep the check until you see the funds have cleared and posted in your account – after that, you can destroy the check.
Knowing how to write out a check is an essential skill that everyone should learn how to do. With this step-by-step guide, it’s easier than ever. Make sure all your details are correct before you send a check, and you should also make sure you have enough funds in your account to cover the amount you wrote the check for.
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