How to Write a Check In Six Simple Steps With Pictures

how to write or fill out a checkThere are just some times when you don’t have many other options other than writing a check. 

Sometimes you’re out of cash. Other times the store won’t accept credit cards.

That’s why it’s important to know how to fill out a check.

However, to keep things in perspective, I think I could count the number of checks I’ll have to fill out on one hand this year. 

I definitely won’t use up the whole book of checks I have.

So How Do You Write a Check Anyway?

There are six fields you will need to fill out and I have numbered them in the image below. Follow the instructions that follow the image to learn how to write a check!

blank check with fields labeled

Fields Required to Write a Check

Check Field 1 – Date

write date on check step 1

Insert the date in this field. You can write it out pretty much however you want but you must include the month, date and year. Here are some examples of acceptable formats. October 21st, 2015, Oct 21, 2015, 10/21/2015, 10/21/15.

Field 2 – Pay To the Order Of

how to write a check how to fill out a check step 2

In this field you will write who the check is for. Make sure to use the appropriate name so that the person or business you are writing the check to can deposit or cash it. If you are writing a check to a person write their first and last name. If you are writing it out to a business write out whatever the business has asked you to fill in.

Field 3 – $ Box

$ box fill in dollar amount in numbers

Here you write out the amount of the check in numbers. For instance you’d write “1,542.63” without the quotes for a one thousand five hundred forty two dollar and sixty three cent check.

Since the dollar sign is already printed on the check you do not have to write another $. Make sure that you put a decimal place in the proper spot! If the check is over 3 digits you can use commas as well.

Field 4 – Blank Line with Dollars Written At the End

Write in Dollar Amount in Words

Here you write out the amount of the check in words. In our example above you would write one thousand five hundred forty two and 63/100. Write out the dollar amount in words and then use a fraction to represent cents. As a quick tip I write a line through the rest of the empty space so people can’t easily add more words to the end to make the check worth more. This field will be used to determine the value of the check if there is a discrepancy between the numbers amount and the words amount.

Field 5 – For or Memo

For or Memo Field: write reminders

Here you can write whatever you want for your own information if the bill you are paying doesn’t require something different. Some businesses like you to write your account number or an invoice number in the memo field so they can keep track of what you are paying for.

Most banks return scanned images of your checks with your bank statements or at least offer you some way to view an image of a check so this might help you remember what it was for.

Field 6 – Blank Line

Signature Line - Sign the Check

This is where you sign the check. The check isn’t valid until you sign it so make sure you don’t forget this crucial part. Never sign a check until all other fields are filled in.

If you do sign a check and someone finds it they can write out a check to themselves for the whole balance of your bank account! That’d be no good.

Now You Know How to Write a Check

Completely Filled Out Check

Completely Filled Out Check

Here is a final version of what your completed check should look like after you have filled it out. Make sure you use the facts applicable to your situation though. I don’t think I’d want to pay Wal-Mart for $1,542.63 of groceries!

Writing a check seems like a pain with the options you have for paying your bills today. Instead of writing checks I personally use things like online bill pay from the company that bills me or I pay directly from my bank’s website. I’ve also set up automatic drafts for my mortgage and car payment.

Did you know how to write a check before reading this? If you think someone you know could get help from this post please pass it along to a friend or bookmark it for future use.

Photo by: KJGarbutt Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Your timing on this is great. In our being a landlord post today ( ) I actually wrote about how al,ost none of our tenants know how to fill out a check properly when they first move in, so we have to teach them how to do it!

    • Unfortunately it is the reality that we live in. If I can help a couple people from having to be embarrassed of asking the question I will be happy. :)

  2. It worries me that people don’t know how to fill out a check. I do have a friend who is 24 and has never written a check, so I guess I can’t be too shocked.

  3. That’s a really cute flower, Lance.

    I didn’t know how to write a check when I left for college years ago…this post would sure have come in handy then!

  4. Cute checks 😉 Something I found helpful for rent checks has been writing “xxx (being the month) rent” on the memo line. This helps if you have a shady roomate or landlord. My landlord now gives out reciepts for the checks but I know that’s not always the case. When I was having some trouble with a roomate, I started writing out the month I was writing it for as they liked to say I hadn’t paid them if I paid in cash or with a check without that written out. When they cashed it, I would print out the scanned image of the check (both front and back)in case they came and said something about me not paying. Saved me a few times.

  5. It’s not surprising that lots of people don’t know how to write a check. In today’s society it seems that rent is about the only place where checks are standard practice. I know I had to google how to properly fill it out at some point. Personally I hope landlords eventually get with the times and start accepting other forms of payment more. I guess that could lead to more credit card debt problems though.

    • They should at least be able to take electronic checks somehow. I had an apartment complex that would take CC if we paid $10. My card gave me $30 in rewards per rent check (I split it w/ 2 other roommates) so it was a no brainer for me.

  6. I think I take it for granted that everyone knows how to write a check! There are families that do not have bank accounts so they probably do not know how to write a check. For the last 3-4 years, I have been using online banking where I only enter what I want to pay and when it should be received.

  7. We still use checks? Haha! I’m so glad we can deposit checks from home with a scanner or remotely with our phones. At first I was concerned about the security of it but after doing some research learned that it’s secure and actually safer than going into the bank. I had to teach my 17 year old brother how to use a check. He didn’t understand the concept of it until he had his own. I wonder how much longer we’ll be using them. Most of the world has moved on.

  8. Yes, I know how to write a check but I hate it. I just wrote one for my children’s preschool and I asked the teacher if we can pay online. Writing a check is a PITA, really. You wait for the payee to cash the check in and your account shows you have more money until they do.

  9. Someone would think that this post is too elementary. But in today’s world who really writes a check? HAHA! We pay bills online and transfer money to our friends.

    But, there are incidents when you have to write a check–rent, paying a friend back, splitting the household expenses with someone and so you need to write them a check for your half, etc.

    • I’ve done all of those things. What prompted me to write this is I had to pay my flood insurance with a check by mail *vomit*.

  10. Have you seen those shows that illustrate how the system really works? All that really matters is the little box. The reporter on the show filled in $11.75 in the box, but wrote out “One Million Dollars” on the line. Then he signed the check Mickey Mouse. The money came out of his bank account (not the mouse’s) and for $11.75.

    • It might be all that matters for the automated process but if you contest it what would win? I would hope the words would and the fake signature would invalidate the check.

  11. It’s sad you had to write this post, but totally necessary until they’re completely gone. I’ve never seen this in detail. I RARELY write checks anymore, but I am glad it’s not a foreign language to me.

  12. Oh yeah, this has a good SEO visit chance, just get this somehow on first page, you’ll get tons of traffic. Interesting post idea.

  13. Checks need to go the way of the cassette tape. Living in a small town, I probably have to write more checks than most people. Hate them. Nothing worse than being in line at the grocery and the person in front of you writes a check. Get a debit card already! Wow, didn’t know I was so hostile toward checks. Guess I needed to vent.

  14. You are probably right. Many people nowadays don’t know how to write checks. They aren’t as popular as they once were. Like you we have most things automated but there are a few things we still need to write checks for. I don’t mind.

  15. I thought this was ridiculous at first, but then I guess lots of people these days really don’t do checks anymore. And for younger people, they may never have done checks before, so actually, this is quite handy! :)

  16. I still enjoy writing checks. It makes me feel connected to all the money I’m spending.

  17. Terrific How To instructions! Great for pre-teens getting their first bank accounts. Do you know if we still have to endorse a check? With all the scanning and ATM quick deposits, I sometimes forget. Thanks for the public service announcement!

    • I wouldn’t be suprised if it still cashed but I bet if you contested it the bank who cashed it would get in trouble.

  18. Does anyone write checks anymore :). I learned to write a check at age 13, before internet banking. I’m happier banking online, but I admit to writing a check once in awhile. REally creative article.

    • Wait… internet banking hasn’t always existed? Sarcasm from me of course but I bet there are some out there that think that.

  19. I stared at this post for about a few minutes to figure whether you were being serious or just sarcastic, then I realized that some people really need to look this stuff up.

  20. This comes up a lot but it still blows my mind that many people aren’t taught this in school? We had a whole 2 week budget lesson in Home Ec where we had to write out checks to pay bills and earned money by doing home work and made an actual monthly budget. Writing checks, balancing the check book, all of that stuff was covered. For as small our public school was I’m pretty grateful of some of the things they had on their curriculum.

    • You’re lucky you had that in school. Most schools don’t seem to have it which is a bit sad if you ask me. Way to prepare people for life!

  21. Lila Matai says:

    what if theres no cents ..only dollars,so what fractions of the no cents pls..

  22. YOU SPENT $1500 AT WALMART!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    • Lance Mlandm says:

      You know… I had to buy a TON of fruit roll ups, Wal-Mart clothes and more! I also like printing in red letters on my checks :)

  23. Very thorough. Nice. It’s a good walk through to those who don’t know how to write a check or maybe for those who will write it for the first time.

  24. I just came out of Bank of America. Im 20 and sad to say I have just written my first check ever. I ordered a check book, but I needed one today, so I used one of my sample ones from when I first opened my account. I asked the bank teller to explain to me how to write a check, and I would have followed his directions had it not been for my annoying tendency to double check everything. Thank goodness I found this website, that teller is an idiot.

  25. Love this! I’m a bank teller and see mis-filled-out checks constantly. And in response to Average Joe, the bank should have returned the reporters check for two reasons. 1. They should have seen the incorrect signature and 2. the written amount, not the numbers is the actual “legal” amount the bank goes off of. I have given checks back to customers who thought they had a check for say $2500 but “twenty five and 00/100 dollars” was the written amount. Obviously they wanted their $2500 😉

  26. I wish I could figure out a way to not have 30 grand in student loans take over my life while I have a child to take care of on one income. I was always told the best thing for me to do was go to college as a single mother!! NOPE i’ll be spending half my monthly income on debit I needed while I was in school. And we will never leave KANSAS!! LOL
    Your so lucky!!!
    Thanks for this site, I used it to help a foreign student understand how to write checks. She was very pleased!
    Amy D.

    • Lance Cothern says:

      Glad I could help with the foreign student! As far as your student loans go, that stinks that you’re in that situation. Just try to keep your head up and pay extra on those loans whenever possible so they’ll disappear as fast as they can. Once they’re gone, hopefully you’ll be free again!

  27. Is it better to write $ 1,500 as Fifteen Hundred and No/100’s instead of One Thousand Five Hundred and No/100’s?

    • Trisha, it doesn’t matter. Both mean the same thing and would both be acceptable. I have done it both ways depending on which mood I’m in. One Thousand Five Hundred would take up more of the line which would leave less chance to fraud, though.

  28. Michael S. says:

    I’ve always had a question about what to do if you ever run out of space in the legal line when spelling out the number. Haven’t had to write a check for an amount that large yet but I’ve asked even people at the bank and no one so far had been able to tell me yet.
    I was reading the comments on debit cards.
    I’m a self employed professional and I have yet to sign up with a card processor and hope I don’t have to.
    People like me don’t want to be paid in credit cards specially when we don’t handle that much money because it costs us a fee.
    In fact my tip to a lot of my friends is to use cash wherever dealing with small business. Ask them first of course. But you’ll get much better treatment.

    • Michael – I don’t have a legal answer for you, but what I would do is either try to write a bit smaller or pretend the line has two lines and smush my writing so it is smaller vertically.

      Can’t say I blame you for preferring cash or check as a small business owner. However, accepting credit cards and raising prices by the amount may open you up to find more customers. However, if your clients don’t mind, cash is clearly the way to go from a cost standpoint.

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