Fountain Pen on Check

There are several reasons that you may need to write a check.  Filling out a check the right way is key if you don’t want there to be a hassle. To help you with this, here are six simple steps on how to fill out a check properly.

6 Steps for Writing a Check

First, notice that there are numbered fields on the check. Throughout this tutorial, we will talk about each numbered field and its purpose so that you can use the proper check format.

Check example

1. Date the Check

Any format of date is acceptable.  For example, October 1, 2014, 10/1/14, or any other format.  However, consistency is key as it helps you to more easily recognize a check that may have been stolen from your account. For instance, if you always date your checks in this format: 10 October 2014, a forged check will easily be identifiable if the check date is written in a different format.

Check with date

2. Fill out who you want to pay

This is where you write down to whom the check is made payable to.  It’s important to write neatly when filling out your check and to include the first and last name, or entire business name, of the payee (the person or business to whom the check is being written).

Check with payee info

3. Write the amount that you wish to pay

Again, it’s important to be neat and precise here.  Make a clear distinction between dollars and cents with a decimal point or by underlining the cents number, in order to avoid confusion about the designated amount.

Check with dollar amount

4. Hand-write the dollar amount using words

Neatness counts here as well, because banks will, on occasion, double check the written amount should they be unable to read the numbers in the amount box.  Write out the dollar amount of the check clearly, as shown in the box below.

Check with written amount

5. Make a note of what the payment is for

People don’t often use the memo line when writing a check, but it can be important when it comes to a potential payment dispute.  Whenever paying a bill, we suggest writing the account number in the memo line.  Or, if the check is to pay rent, write “January 2014 rent” in the memo line.  Using the memo line for checks helps secure your checking account and credit rating and protect you against possible payment disputes.  It also can be used to help track your spending so you can know how much money you’re spending in each budget area.

Check with memo field filled in

6. Sign the check

This is possibly the most vital part of the check writing process.  Companies won’t accept checks without a valid signature, and since each person’s signature is unique, the signature on your check has the capability of protecting you from potential check-writing forgers.  Be sure when writing a check to make your signature neat and write it as you normally would on any other formal document.

Check with signature field

Your check should look similar to this when completed:

Completed Check

Now that you know the basics of writing a check, you can be prepared for the rare occasion when there aren’t other payment options such as cash or automatic payment.