How to write a check in 6 easy steps

1. Date the check

Make sure your check reflects the current date—and write it in the top right corner. Backdating a check occurs when a previous date is listed. It’s typically not allowed, and it may even be illegal in some situations.

A postdated check, which has a future date, might be legal in some instances, but it could be deposited before the date listed on the check. And that can result in a bounced check or overdraft.

2. Fill in the recipient’s name

The recipient, also known as the payee, is the business or person to whom you’re writing a check. The field for the recipient’s name usually begins with “Pay to the order of.”

Make sure this field is filled out correctly with the recipient’s full name. Spelling the name of the person or business wrong or leaving off part of a payee’s name could result in your check being returned.

3. Write the dollar amount in numbers

There are two places where you need to list the dollar amount of your check in both dollars and cents. The first location for the payment amount is to the right of the recipient’s name. It typically is a small box for numerals only. It usually begins with a dollar sign, so you don’t need to write one in.

Here’s how to write a check with cents:

  • Use a decimal point in the small box—for example, if your check amount is $100, write 100.00.
  • Here’s how to write $1,000 on a check: 1,000.00. Don’t forget to add the comma and the decimal point.

For the amount box, write in numbers large enough to fill the entire space to help prevent fraud.

4. Write the dollar amount in words

The second location for the dollar amount is directly below the recipient’s name. This larger field often ends with the word “dollars,” and the amount should be spelled out in words in this location. For example, if the amount of the check is $1,000, write “one thousand.”

To include the cents, use a fraction with “100” on the bottom. So if the check amount is $44.99, write “forty-four and 99/100.” Even if the dollar amount has no cents, it’s typically best to include a “00/100” for clarity. For example, if you’re writing a check for $1,500, write out “one thousand, five hundred and 00/100.”

When writing out the dollar amount in words, write the amount as far to the left as you can. Then draw a line through any remaining space to the right of the amount listed. That will help ensure the entire field is full, which can help prevent someone from changing the amount of your check.

5. Include a memo

Filling in a check’s memo line may not be required, but it can be helpful to write what the check is for. If the check is for a specific month’s rent or a particular service you’ve received, you can list that in the memo field.

6. Sign the check

Lastly, you’ll sign the check on the line in the bottom right corner. Your signature is one of the most important parts of a check. Without it, your check generally can’t be cashed or deposited.