Financial Basics: How to Write a Check

Woman writes a bank check to pay household bills.

When it comes to financial literacy basics, knowing how to write a check is a must. Although paper checks aren’t used as frequently as they once were, they still have their place. Some common scenarios that might require you to write checks for payment include:

  • • Rent
  • • Utilities (electricity, natural gas, water, etc.)
  • • Childcare
  • • Donations

So what are the steps to writing a check? We’ll walk you through it below. (Note: If you’re trying to teach your son or daughter how to write a check, this could be a good way to introduce it to them.)

Steps on how to write a check.

Step 1: Write Recipient’s Name

The first part of a check you should fill out is the recipient’s name, which goes on the line next to the words “Pay to the Order of.” Depending on what the payment is for, this could be the name of a person (e.g. John Doe) or the name of an organization, city, or state (e.g. State of Ohio Treasurer’s Office).

This piece of information is usually straightforward, but if you’re unsure of what to write here, try checking the bill you’re trying to pay or ask the recipient directly who you should write the check out to. If you’re looking at a paper statement or PDF, look for the words “make check payable to” ― whatever comes next will be the recipient’s official name.

Step 2: Write Date Check Was Written

This step is simple – just write the date the check was written. Include the month, date, and year, either in numeric form (10/8/21) or with the month spelled out or abbreviated (Oct. 8, 2021).

Step 3: Write Amount in Numeric Form

Here, you’ll write the amount of the payment the check is for using numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). For example, if your payment was for $50.67, you would write exactly that ― $50.67. Be sure to include the exact number for both the dollars and cents.

Step 4: Write Amount in Words

Next, you’ll write the same amount from the previous step, except in a partially written-out format. For example, for a payment of $75.80, you would write “Seventy-five dollars and 80/100.”

This step can be a bit tricky if you’re not sure how to spell out numbers in the right format. Here are some examples to give you a better idea:

Amount What It Looks Like Spelled Out
$101.36 One hundred one and 36/100
$2,250.50 Two thousand two hundred fifty and 50/100
$556.88 Five hundred fifty-six and 88/100
$35.35 Thirty-five and 35/100
$15.00 Fifteen and 00/100

Additionally, it’s a good rule of thumb to draw a line through any remaining space left on the line. This can help ensure that someone can’t fraudulently add to the amount you’ve specified.

Write the amount of the check in words.
Step 5: Sign Your Name

In this step, you’ll simply sign your name on the line in cursive (also known as your signature) to validate the check. If you’re unsure how to write your name in cursive, this blog can offer some guidance.

Other Things to Know About Checks

In addition to the basics of check-writing, there are a few other related topics worth mentioning.

Routing Number

The routing number is located at the bottom of the check to the far left. This number identifies the financial institution the account belongs to and is unique to that institution. You may need to enter this number if you’re setting up direct deposit to receive payment from an employer or other source. Minster Bank’s routing number is 042310525.

Routing number on a check.
Account Number

The account number is also located at the bottom of the check directly to the right of the routing number. This number is unique to only your account. Again, you may need to know this number for a direct deposit setup.

Account number on a check.
Memo Line

The memo line is located just above the routing number and is usually labeled “Memo” or “For.” This information is not used for anything technical; it’s basically a place to write a note saying what the check is for. It’s optional, so you don’t have to fill it out if you don’t want to.

Memo line on a check.
Voided Check

A voided check is a check that cannot be cashed. A check could be voided if you made a mistake while writing it out, or you may be asked to provide a voided check to an employer so they can set up a direct deposit for you. You can void a check yourself by writing “VOID” across the check (preferably in large print).

Voided check
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