How To Write A Check

It's a simple task, but because of the popularity of plastic debit and credit cards, there are some people who need to learn how to write out a check.

This basic skill was once taught to elementary school students as part of their class curriculum. Today it is sometimes seen as unnecessary. However, paper checks remain a fundamental part of our country's payment systems. Understanding the proper way to fill out business and personal checks is important.

Here are six simple steps to help guide you through the process:

1. The Date

We'll start from the top of the check and work our way down to the bottom.

In the top right corner you'll notice a field for the date. It's probably just a blank line with the beginning of the year listed as 20__. You should typically use the current date, but you can also post-date the check.

Post-dating is a term used to indicate when the check is filled out with a date in the future. It is not illegal to post-date a check. However, it is illegal to write personal checks and business checks when you don't have sufficient funds in your checking account.

Keep in mind that it is perfectly legal for a bank to cash your check immediately - even when it is post-dated.

It is not wise to pay bills by post-dating your checks. Only pay when you have the money in your account.

2. The Payee

On the first blank line of your check you will notice the words "Pay to the Order Of." This is where you'll indicate the person or business that will receive the check from you.

Make certain you spell the name correctly and use the official name of any business.

3. The Dollar Amount

At the end of the first blank line is an empty box with a dollar symbol ($). This is where you will write the numerical value of the payment you are making using digits.

It's good practice to begin writing the number all the way to the left side of the box. This will prevent anyone who may try to add a number and change the amount of your check.

4. The Dollar Amount in Words

You'll also need to write the amount of the check on the second blank line, but this time it's a little different. Use words for the dollars and a fraction for the cents.

For example: A check being written for $75.89 would be written as "seventy five dollars and 89/100." The cents are written over the number 100 because there are 100 cents (or pennies) in each dollar.

You should also draw a line after the last word or the fraction to fill in the entire blank line. This is another way of preventing someone from committing fraud and altering your checks.

5. Your Signature

Don't forget to sign your name on the signature line in the bottom right-hand corner of the check. Your check will not be accepted or processed without a signature.

Use cursive and don't print unless that is how you normally sign for things. Remember - your bank has a signature card on file with a copy of your handwriting. For this reason, it's smart to always sign things the same way.

6. The Memo Line

You are not required to write any information in the memo line. However, it can be a useful tool for letting the payee know how the check is intended to be used. You can also use the memo line with duplicate checks to help you remember the purpose of a check.

Don't assume that you can get by without knowing how to write a personal check. No matter how much you use a debit card or pay online - there will be times in your life when you'll need to turn to your checkbook.