Writing A Check: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Checks

ByG. Dautovic
January 05, 2022

Even though advancements in technology have made online payments through checking accounts arguably the most popular payment method in the modern world, there are plenty of people who still prefer using checks. Still, you cannot write a check in just any manner. 

Writing a check requires special attention to detail because any slip-ups can cause it to bounce. In this article, we are going to look at all things regarding checks. We will answer questions about them and teach you how to create a check that’s easy to process and won’t be rejected for sure.

What Are the Benefits Of Writing A Check?

No convenience fees

Did you know that many companies that provide electronic payments charge a convenience fee for every transaction you make? The amount per transaction may seem negligible, but the total can easily add up. Checks do not charge you a convenience fee, allowing you to save every penny.

The Safe Way to Save Money

Carrying a large sum of money around is unsafe as it could be stolen or damaged in transit. What is to stop anyone from spending your hard-earned cash if they get their hands on it? On the other hand, checks provide a safe way to transfer cash from your bank account to another person's account. A stranger would have a really hard time cashing in your check if they stole it from you.

This is because the banks require depositors to leave behind a signature and provide ID to verify it.

The Paper Trail

If you have ever been in a situation where you needed to prove that you paid someone, then you know how important a paper trail is. Checks provide the perfect proof of payment for your future self and are also a good way to keep track of your spending history.

Saves Time

Checks do not have to be cashed in on the day indicated on the paper. You can cash a check three months after and the check will still be valid. What this does is opens up an opportunity for the account holder and the recipient to transact in the future, even if they are not in close proximity to each other. The recipient can walk into the bank and cash a check at their earliest convenience.

The Disadvantages of Writing a Check

Processing Checks Takes Time

Cashing a check does not mean that the money is in your bank account. You may see the cash reflected on the account, but it is not considered available until a few days after the transaction is completed.

Checks Aren't Cheap

This might come as a surprise, but you have to pay to get checks that you can send to people. If you want more custom features on your checks, including special prints on your checks, then you'll have to dish out more.

Fake Check Scams

Fraudsters always come up with ways to defraud unsuspecting people for their hard-earned goods, and money and checks are no exception. Younger generations are more prone to these scams because they mostly use electronic payment tools and may be unfamiliar with how checks work.

The advantages of writing a check outweigh the disadvantages. Now let's look at the actual process of writing checks.

How to Write A Check

If it's your first time writing a check, you may wonder how to fill it out, so it is easy to read and doesn’t get bounced. We all know how annoying it is when your check does not clear because of a rookie mistake; it's borderline embarrassing. Imagine telling your employee you don't know how to write the date on a check, and that is why it was rejected.

No need to worry; we put together a six-step guide to writing the perfect check. We guarantee that after reading it thoroughly, you will never have a problem with checks.

How to Fill Out a Check

Step 1: Check the Format

The first thing you need to do is observe the check format. You will notice that there are several areas that need to be filled that we will be referring to in this tutorial. The first is the top right corner of the check. This section is important because it requires you to fill in the date you wish the check to be cashed.

You do not need to write today’s date on the check and can backdate or postdate it to suit the needs of you or your recipient.

Usually, most formats are acceptable, but you want to choose a date format that leaves no room for error. Try writing out the month, so there is no confusion about which number is the date and which is the month. You should also avoid writing numbers in confusing formats.

A good example is people who write the number nine and make it look like an eight or a four.

Remember to remain consistent because it could help you and your bank spot a fraudulent check from a mile away. A forgery attempt will probably use a different date format, among other discrepancies, making it easier to uncover.

Step 2: Check the Example

The second thing you need to know about writing checks is how to write the name of the person you are paying. In this instance, a doctor's handwriting will simply not do, and clearly, legible writing is a must. If you are unsure how to format this part, you can ask your bank for an example check and copy what you see there.

Step 3: Write the Amount You Wish to Transfer

You have to list the amount you wish to transfer from your account to the recipient. This info will usually have to be filled out right next to the payee's name. If your transaction involves cents, make a clear separation between the dollars and the cents using a decimal point. Trust us - your bank balance will appreciate not making a mistake here.

Step 4: Write Out the Amount in Words

Right below the recipient's name, you will spot a space to write out the amount being transferred. This is to clear all doubt if the numbers you wrote before are not a hundred percent clear. After writing the amount in letters, you need to draw a line covering any blank space left or finish the sentence by writing out whatever currency you are sending (i.e., dollars). This ensures that no one can add more writing to this section. If you are having trouble with this part, you can write a sample check and confirm with your bank if you have filled out the check the right way.

Step 5: Fill Out the Memo Line

The memo line is not compulsory, but it may come in handy in clearing future disputes. You may fill out the part as "December 2021 membership fees."

Step 6: Signing the check

Once everything is set, you can now go in for the grand finale. Putting your signature on the check is the final step in writing a check. Your unique signature will protect you from potential check forgery attempts in the future. Your signature should be hard to copy and stay the same on every check.

Now that you know how to sign a check, you can go ahead and fill out one or two to test drive your new skill. Writing checks will become a huge part of how you transact money once you realize how wonderfully convenient it is.

Bottom Line

We hope we have answered all your questions on how to write out a check in this article. Don't forget that practice makes perfect. You can always find small, subtle ways to personalize your check writing system. Some people opt to use all caps when writing the name of the recipient, while others use sentence caps.

Filling out a check is not as complicated as people make it look; you just have to make sure your writing is legible and you know what a filled-in check should look like.

FAQ

How do you properly write a check?

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A proper way to write a check is:

  • Write the date in the top right corner.
  • Write the name of the recipient next to the ”pay to” column.
  • Write the value to be paid in digits next to the $ symbol.
  • Spell out the amount stated above in words along the long line.
  • Fill out the memo part.
  • Sign your check.

How do you write out the amount on a personal check?

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The amount you write in numerals is the same amount you should describe in words. For example, if you wrote $40,000, then the amount in words should be forty thousand dollars.

How do you write a business check?

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Business checks are not really all that different from personal checks. The only difference is that the account providing the funds will be a business account instead of a personal one.

About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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