How to Write a Check in 6 Simple Steps

Writing a check can be done by filling out six lines on the check. There are also alternatives to sending a check.
Tony Armstrong
By Tony Armstrong 
Updated
Edited by Sara Clarke Reviewed by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury

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How to write a check in six easy steps:

  • Step 1: Include the date.

  • Step 2: Name the recipient.

  • Step 3: Fill in the amount with numerals.

  • Step 4: Write out the amount in words.

  • Step 5: Say what it's for.

  • Step 6: Sign your name.

Filling out a check used to be a habit for many people. But with debit cards, online banking and mobile payments, it's now a bit of a lost art. If you need help with how to write a check, these steps will have you covered.

Step 1. Include the date

This goes on the line in the top right corner of the check. If you're in the U.S., write it as month-date-year. You can choose to fill out the date completely or use numbers. For example, write June 20, 2023 or 6/20/2023.

Step 2. Name the recipient

Who will receive the check? Write their name on the line that begins with “Pay to the order of.” You can name a person or a business. For a person, be sure to use the full name and not a nickname.

Step 3. Fill in the amount with numerals

This is the easy part. Just write out in numbers how much you owe. In the animation above, the check is written for $900 and 50 cents.

Step 4. Write out the amount in words

Put this on the line below the “Pay to the order of” line. Add a cap so the recipient can't add money. Do this by including cents — use a fraction, such as 50/100 — or the word "even" if the amount is even. For example, say the amount on the check is $100; if you were only to write “one hundred dollars,” your recipient could potentially add some extra cents to the total if there’s space on the line.

Step 5. Say what it's for

Write this on the “Memo” line. This part is optional but handy. It helps you remember why you wrote the check.

Step 6. Sign your name

This goes in the bottom right-hand corner of the check. Note that your check will be rejected if you don't sign it. The signature is an indication that you’re agreeing to pay the amount on the check to the recipient.

Have more questions? Check out our FAQs section.

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How to sign a check over to someone else

Signing over — also called endorsing — a check over to someone else requires a few steps. One example of when this is needed might be that your child receives a check and doesn’t have a bank account, so you want them to endorse their check over to you so that you can deposit it for safekeeping. Or perhaps you have a check written out to you that you want to sign over to your roommate so they can use it to cover your share of utilities.

However, before you begin the process of signing over a check, you may want to check with your recipient to make sure that their bank will accept a signed-over or “third party” check. Once you’ve confirmed that your endorsed check will be accepted, here’s what to do next:

  1. Sign the back of your check in the endorsement area.

  2. Write “Pay to the order of” and your recipient’s name. 

  3. Give the check to your recipient. 

There’s a chance that your recipient’s bank might need your proof of identification, so you may want to plan on accompanying them to their bank when they deposit your check. Depending on the policies of their bank, your recipient may be able to make a mobile deposit of your endorsed check, but get in touch with their bank’s customer service to check.

Alternatives to writing a check

If you would rather not write a check, here are two options that might work better for you.

Purchasing a money order or cashier’s check. Money orders and cashier’s checks — which can typically be purchased through your bank or through certain retailers in the case of money orders — can be nice alternatives to traditional checks because they take money out of your bank account upfront so that you don’t have to worry about waiting on your recipient to deposit your check.

Using a peer-to-peer payment app or digital wallet. Apps such as Venmo and Cash App and your smartphone’s built-in digital wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay can all be good options for sending money instead of having to write a check. Zelle, a money transfer service that’s built into most banking apps, is also a good way to send money electronically. Just make sure that you’re sending money to the right person since it may be impossible to get your money back if it goes to the wrong recipient.

Frequently asked questions

If it’s a minor slip-up, draw a single line through the word and rewrite it. You may also need to write your initials next to the change. Whether your check is acceptable will be at the bank’s discretion. If you’re worried about whether it’ll be accepted, the safest option is to invalidate the check by writing “void” across it in large letters and writing a new check.

A postdated check has a future date written on it. For instance, if you’re mailing your December rent check on Nov. 28 but won’t have the necessary funds until the first of the month, you might date the check Dec. 1. However, postdating checks is not recommended and usually is a waste of time. The bank doesn't have to honor that later date, and overdraft or nonsufficient funds fees may apply if you don't have the money to cover it.

Instead of writing the word “even,” you can simply draw a straight line through the empty space that follows the written-out dollar amount. That way, fraudsters can’t add numbers to make the check worth more than you intended.

Yes, you can do so by naming yourself as the recipient. That’s one way to move money from one bank account to another. Either deposit the check at your new bank or use its mobile check deposit service, if it has one. Be sure to have a valid, government-issued photo ID.

Yes, you can, but it’s not a good idea since someone else could cash it if it fell into the wrong hands. If you still really want to write a check for cash, you write “Cash” as the payee in the “Pay to the Order of” line on the check.

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