How To Write a Check: A Step-by-Step Guide To Fill Out A Check

Do you want to learn how to write a check to someone? Wondering how do you properly write a check? Want to learn how to fill out a check for specific dollar amounts? Have you ever written a check? While some of you may be thinking that you’ll never need to write a check, or…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: August 11, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Do you want to learn how to write a check to someone? Wondering how do you properly write a check? Want to learn how to fill out a check for specific dollar amounts? Have you ever written a check?

While some of you may be thinking that you’ll never need to write a check, or wondering why someone like me would ever write a check, it does happen!

In fact, if you are choosing to read this article, then I’m guessing you may need to write a check and have questions about how to write a personal check.

I remember learning how to write a check for the first time, and it used to be taught in school.

But not everyone is taught to write checks these days, and some people have never needed to write one.

And, even though most people have switched over to using debit cards or are using apps that make it easy to transfer money, it’s still important to know how to write a check. 

There are actually many situations when a check is the preferred or only way to pay.

You may need to write a check for:

  • A down payment on a house, or something similar
  • A monthly rent payment – rent check
  • A wedding, graduation, or birthday gift
  • A campground fee (Surprisingly, some state and national park campgrounds will ONLY accept checks – no cash accepted. This is actually the exact reason for why I keep a checkbook with me.)
  • Government offices – If you go to certain government offices, then you may have to pay by check. This happened to me earlier this year when getting a pet permit to bring my dogs to another country. The office only accepted checks.
  • As a payment for work – Because credit and debit cards have higher processing fees, some small business owners prefer checks. You may need to write one if you hire an independent contractor, plumber, electrician, babysitter, nanny, landscaper, cleaning person, etc.
  • Charitable organizations, community organizations, and churches may prefer checks for the same reason as above. Checks help these groups save money on processing fees.
  • If you want to save money. Some places let you use a debit or credit card, but they will charge you an extra processing fee if you do. I’ve seen this at government offices like the DMV. Writing a check can save you a few dollars.

While these days checks aren’t used very often, there are occasionally still times when knowing how to write a check is important. Maybe it’s been awhile since the last time you wrote a check so you need a refresher, or maybe you’ve never written one before. If you are wondering “how do you write a check” then this is the article for you!

Whatever the reason may be, if you’re asking “how do you fill out a check?” then I will walk you through the process of writing a check. Learning how to write a check to someone doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact, it’s quite easy!

And, learning how to write numbers in words on a check can be very handy at times.

Related content:

Today, I am going to show you how to fill out a check, as well as answer some common questions that you may have about writing a check. This step-by-step guide will help you to learn how to write a check in no time!


how to write a check - full check written out

How to write a check

The picture above is how to write a check with hundreds and cents. This check has been filled out completely – nothing is missing. It’s obviously a fake check, but if it were real, everything is filled out so it can be deposited and used to complete the payment for a water bill.

Take a look at each of the sections on this check. There are several different lines you need to fill out, and each of them is for a specific reason. You need to fill out each section in a very specific way so the check is valid and to prevent fraud. 

If that sounds serious, it is. But, don’t worry, I am going to walk you through each step of writing a check so you don’t miss anything.


check filled out with date

Step 1: Fill out the date on the check.

The first step of writing your check is to write the date on your check in the upper right hand corner.

When filling out the date, you will most likely be using the date that you are writing the check. I will explain postdating further down in this article if you have any questions about that.

You can either write the date out in full (how it’s shown in the picture), or you can write out the date with numbers. In my example, that would look like 5/1/20.

However you write the date, make sure it’s clear and legible.


Check filled out with Pay to the order of

Step 2: Write who the check is for.

The next thing you will want to do is fill out who the check is for. This may be for a person or a company, and you will want to verify the correct spelling of their name before you fill this section out. You will need the exact name of the person or the company.

I always like to clarify with the company or person of the exact spelling, so that there are no problems when they go to deposit the check into their bank account. It only takes a moment and is an important step when writing out a check.


check written out with dollars and cents

Step 3: Write the check amount in numbers.

On the next line, you will use numbers to write out the amount the check is for. This is how much you are paying the person or company.

In this small box on the right side of the check, you will want to make sure you are writing the numerical amount as close to the left side of the box as possible, as this prevents thieves from sticking another number in there to make the amount larger.

For example, if you write $110.52 but put it in the middle of the amount box, it would be quite easy to make the amount $1,110.52.


check written out in words

Step 4: Write the check amount in words.

Do you know how to write a check amount in words? This is usually where a lots of people get stumped

On this line, you will be writing down the dollar amount in words so that it matches what you wrote in the last box you filled out. This is done to confirm that this is the exact amount you want to pay. It’s important to use clear handwriting so that there is no confusion when the person goes to deposit the check.

After you write out the amount in words, you need to draw a line at the end if your words don’t take up the entire space. The line makes it clear that nothing else is supposed to be there.

When writing the words on the check, you will want to include both the dollars and cents. You will also want to use the word “and” because of both the dollars and cents.

At the bottom of this article, you will find a reference table that shows you how to write a dollar amount in words, from 0 to $100,000.


memo line on check filled out

Step 5: Fill out the memo line.

On this line, you are making a note that says what the check is for. For example, on this check, I wrote down what month the water payment is for. It’s simply a nice way to stay organized.

Other things that you may write in the memo line include:

  • Birthday present
  • Wedding gift
  • Your billing account number (this is important when you are making payments because it will help identify your check if it gets lost or separated)

Now, not everyone fills out the memo line. But, I like to as it helps me to remember exactly what the check was for.


signature on check filled out

Step 6: Sign the check.

This is the spot where you sign your name. This tells the bank that you agree to paying the amount on the check. A check cannot be deposited by the recipient unless it has been signed. I recommend not signing it until the rest of the check is completed, and I do this for safety reasons.

Once you have signed the check with your signature on the signature line, you’re almost finished.

Take the time to write the amount of the check, who it’s for, the date, and the check number into your checkbook. Writing your check information in your checkbook will help you keep track of your checks and your balance.


Below are answers to common questions on how to fill out a check (writing a check FAQs).

So, you probably still have more questions about how to fill out a check, and that makes sense. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about writing checks.


how to write a check for 100 dollars without cents
How to write a check for 100 dollars.

How to write a check for 100 dollars.

If you want to know how to write out a check for 100 dollars without cents, then you can look at the example above to see how it’s done. You will see that the amount is written numerically, written out in words, includes the “and,” and has a line drawn to the end of the amount line.

Other examples include:

  • How to write a check for $150 – “one hundred fifty and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $250 – “two hundred fifty and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $450 – “four hundred fifty and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $500 – “five hundred and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $1,000 – “one thousand and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $1,200 – “one thousand two hundred and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $1,500 – “one thousand five hundred and 00/100”
  • How to write a check for $2,500 – “two thousand five hundred and 00/100”

You can reference the table a little farther down to see how you can write the numbers out in words too.


How to write a check without cents.
How to write a check without cents.

How to write a check without cents.

How do you write a check with no cents?

If the amount of your check doesn’t include cents, then it should be written out like the check above.

You simply write the number in words, and for the cents amount you either write 00/100 or “zero cents.” The cents amount must be written, even if it’s zero.

Learning how to write a check with zero cents is simple, as you can see.


How to write a check with cents only. This is a check that shows you how to write a check for 50 cents.
How to write a check with cents only. (how to write a check for 50 cents)

How to write a check with cents only.

If you want to learn how to write a check with cents, it is possible and it is easy.

It is not common to write a check with only cents, but sometimes you have to. For example, perhaps you only have a few cents left on a debt, and you need to pay it off. In that case, you would need to know how to write a check with cents.

One way to fill out a check with cents only is to write “no dollars and” before the cents amount. Or you may write: “Only fifty cents––––––-” on the line.

You will want to write the number of cents in numeric form next to the dollar sign. Then, you’ll want to include the amount with the decimal point, of course, because you are wanting to write a check with only cents.

Of course, fill everything else out on the entire check as well, such as the full name of who the check is going to (the recipient’s name), the date in the right-hand corner of the check, and signing it.


How to write a check to yourself.

Yes, you can write a check for yourself. You simply write your own name on the check. So, where it says “Pay to the order of,” that’s where your name goes.


How do I void a check?

You may need to void a check if you incorrectly filled it out, if it’s no longer needed, or if you need it for a direct deposit.

Voiding a check is very easy.

To void a check that has already been filled out, you simply write VOID in big letters across the check. If it’s for a direct deposit, then you’ll need to scan it or give it to the person who is setting up your direct deposit after writing “void” on your check. But, if it’s not for a direct deposit and you have no need for that actual check, then I recommend shredding the check.

A voided check is easy, see!


Can I write a check with pencil?

For safety reasons, I do not recommend using a pencil when filling out a check. This is because the amount or who the check is made out to can be erased and changed. Writing a check with a pencil puts you at risk for fraud.

You should always use permanent ink pen when writing a check.


How do I postdate a check?

If you don’t want to put the current date on the check, then you may be thinking about postdating it. This is when you put a future date on the check. You may do this if you don’t have enough money in your bank account, or if the check is for a date further in the future.

Typically, you should not postdate a check. It is recommended that the date on the check match the day you are writing the check.

If you need to though, you will simply write the date that you want to use on the date line.


What is the number in the top right corner of the check?

As you’ve seen in the examples in this article, the number “5719” is on the right corner of each check. This is the check number. Checks usually start in the 1000s or 2000s, but sometimes check numbers are in the hundreds. The check number helps you and the bank keep track of your checks.

When you are opening a new checking account, you may have a choice of what number you want your checks to start on.


What are the numbers on the bottom of a check?

The numbers on the very bottom of the check are the bank routing number, your account number at the bank, as well as the check number. Wherever the check is deposited, these are the numbers that the bank reads. It tells the bank where the money is coming from and how to move it.


What’s a blank check?

A blank check is when you’ve signed the check, but have not filled out all of the sections on the check. So, you may leave the “Pay to the Order” section blank, the numerical or written amount blank, or all of the above.

Leaving a check signed but blank is not a good idea because you are giving someone the opportunity to write a large amount on the check, or to have the check signed over to anyone.

So, to be safe, I recommend not signing a check until the very last step.


What’s the back of the check for?

The back of the check is for the person who you are giving the check for. You do not need to do anything with the back of the check.


How do I write more than one name on a check?

There are instances in which you may be writing more than one name on a check, such as if you are wanting to address a check to a wedding couple and want to include them both.

The recommended way to do this is to write the word “or” on the check.

For example Name or Name, instead of Name and Name.

This is because if you write the word “and’ then both people may have to be on the account in order to deposit it into their bank account. Writing “or” allows either person to deposit the check.


What are alternatives to writing a paper check?

I usually try to avoid writing checks, as there are so many other easier options.

Of course, as mentioned above, there are several circumstances in which you may have to write a check.

However, if you don’t want to write a check, here are a few alternatives to writing a check if it’s possible:

  • Using a debit or credit card – This is probably the most common way to pay, other than cash
  • Paying a bill online – This is where you pay your bill, such as for the water or electric company, online
  • Paying with cash
  • PayPal, Venmo, Cashapp, Zelle, and more are easy-to-use apps for transferring money from your bank account to someone else’s


Can I write my own check?

Yes, of course!

And, with the tips above, you’ll be able to write a check correctly.


Who signs the back of a check?

The person who is receiving the check is the one who should sign the back of the check.


How to write a check to the DMV?

You will want to ask them who to make the check out to. This applies to any check, as you want to make sure you are writing out the correct name or company.


How do you properly write a check?

Where can I get cheap checks online?

There are many places where you can order checks online. You can go to your bank directly, or you can order online from a website such as Checks Unlimited.

Usually, ordering from your bank may mean higher costs or a longer wait time, so that is usually why people choose to order from a check company.

I do recommend always having at least one checkbook, as you never know when you may need to use a check in your life. Depending on how often you write checks, you will want to order more checks before you run out.

Unless you know you need a check, I recommend keeping your checks somewhere safe in your home. You can keep your checks with other private paperwork or personal information, like your Social Security card.


How to write a check with numbers reference table

The image below shows you how to spell out numbers when writing your check in numerical dollar amount. This will help you figure out how to write a check for $10,000 dollars and even much larger amounts. The below is a great chart to learn how to write a check in words.

How to write a check with numbers reference table

For example, using the chart above, if you are wondering how do you write $1500 on a check? It would simply be “one thousand five hundred.”

Another example if you are wondering “How do you write $3000?” Simply look at the graphic above and you will see that it is “three thousand.” “How do you write $1000 on a check?” – “one-thousand.” “How to write a check for 1200 dollars” – “one thousand two hundred and 00/100 dollars”


How to read a check

Are you wondering what the numbers are at the bottom of a check?

The numbers at the bottom are your routing number, your account number, and your check number.


What is the correct way to write a check?

If you came to this article wondering “How do you write a check?” I hope I was able to answer your question.

There are many reasons why you may need to write a check, such as for paying a landlord or giving a gift via check. Online banking and bill pay is great, but I still come across situations today where I need to fill out a check.

I hope you enjoyed this article on how to write a check, along with all of the examples. If you have any other questions about how to fill out a check, please leave them as a comment below and I will help you as quickly as possible.

Remember to record your transactions in your check register, such as the payment amount, payee name, account balance, or any withdrawals from an ATM, so that you can keep track of the checks that you have written. This will help you to prevent overdrafts as well as budget better.

Do you know how to write a check? How often do you fill out checks?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Great post Michelle. Yes, checks are still relevant. Most of my business clients still pay for my services with a check. Some that have switched to direct deposit require a cancelled check from me to set up this method pf payment.

    1. Michael

      Hi, Brian. If I may ask, what industry are your clients who prefer payment by checks? Do you think it’s a matter of the industry or individual preferences?

  2. Carla R Jenkins

    Thanks for the important and timely information Michelle. Check writing is still very important to this economy. I would like to give you another reason to write a check: opening up a new bank account. I have received a new business line of credit check. As a subcontractor I open up a separate bank account to track expenses. The bank wants a check over debit or credit card to verify your address (which is at the top left hand corner). Checks provide more paper trails for verifying your address and identity. This is another reason why check writing is still important.

  3. Kevin

    Thank you for the extremely helpful post! My wife and I had to write a check to a government office and realized that, as two twenty-somethings, somehow neither of us had ever written one before. In fact, we didn’t even have a checkbook yet! Luckily we came across your post before our checkbook arrived, so you’ve saved us from an embarrassing phone call with my parents!

  4. I laughed when I read this, but it is great. I had to show my friend’s daughter how to open the mailbox (yes, those blue things on the corner) to insert a letter, so I know there’s an entire generation of people who will google how to write a check and find this.