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How to fill out a check

Learn how to fill out a check in 6 simple steps.

6 Simple Steps to Fill Out a Check

In a world of electronic payments and debit cards, writing a check may seem like an ancient practice to a lot of people. However, there may be times when writing a check is necessary. Filling out a check is as easy as six simple steps.


Step 1: Date

The date you write here should be the same date that you're signing off on the check. You can post-date it in advance for when you'd like the payee to draw funds, but the payee isn't obligated to honor it. It's best to make sure you have enough money in your checking account on the date you write the check.

Step 2: Payee

Write the name of the payee on this line. It can be the name of a person or a company.

Step 3: Check Amount in Numbers

Fill in the amount you want drawn out of your checking account in dollars and cents. For example, "12.52." You don't need to include the dollar sign since it's already printed on your check.

Step 4: Check Amount in Words

Write out the same amount you wrote in the box above (#3), only this time in words. For example, write, "twelve dollars and 52/100." If the dollar amount doesn't have any cents, write 00/100.

Step 5: Memo

The memo line is the only optional area to fill out on a check. You may leave it blank, however, it's a great way for you to keep track of what the check is for or to write in an account number. For example, you can write in something like, "groceries."

Step 6: Signature

This is where you sign your check. Signing your check gives authorization to the payee to draw the specified amount from your checking account.

Other Things to Keep In Mind

Keeping Your Checking Account Safe

Secure your checkbook just as you would if it were actual cash. You don't want the wrong person to get a hold of your checking account number or write checks on your behalf. In the event that your recipient doesn't receive the check or your check is lost or stolen, you will need to notify your bank to put a stop-payment on the check.

Avoiding Unwanted Fees

A "bounced check" is a check that has been returned to you due to not having enough money in your checking account to cover the amount written on the check. Bouncing a check can result in NSF fees from your bank due to insufficient funds as well as additional fees from the payee that tried to process your check. The key is knowing your checking account balance before you write the check.

Handling an Unused Check

What happens if you fill out a check and you no longer need it? You'll have to void that check, even if it's only partially filled out. Voiding a check ensures that no one else can complete the check or otherwise process it. To void a check, simply write, "VOID," in large letters across the whole length of the check. You can then either keep it for your records or shred the check to dispose of it.

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