How to Write a Check

Although they're not as prevalent as they once were, checks are still widely used, even in today's digital age. Checks are a simple and affordable way to transfer funds, although you may not write one every day, or you may have never written one before.

Writing a check is straightforward, and this guide will show you how. Follow each step one by one, or use the example provided as a template for your own checks. You can complete the steps in any order you prefer, as long as you sign last and the check includes all necessary information. In this example, we'll walk through the process from the top of the check to the bottom, to help you avoid missing any steps.

Before Writing the Check

Consider alternatives before writing a check. Check writing can be a time-consuming process and may not be the most efficient way to transfer funds. There may be other options that make your life easier and help you save money, such as:

  • Paying bills online and setting up automatic monthly payments through your bank. This eliminates the need to write checks, pay for postage, and physically mail them.
  • Using a debit card for purchases. This allows you to spend from the same account, but electronically, without using checks, and provides you with an electronic record of your transaction, including the payee name, payment date, and amount.
  • Setting up automatic payments for regular bills, such as utilities and insurance premiums. This is often a free service and makes life easier, but ensure that you always have enough funds in your account to cover the bills.
Regardless of the method you choose, ensure that you always have enough funds in your checking account. If not, your payments may bounce, resulting in fees and potential legal consequences.

How to Write a Check

- Step 1: Date the Check 

Write the date in the top right-hand corner of the check. This is important as it allows the bank and/or recipient to know when the check was written.

- Step 2: Payee 

The next line, "Pay to the order of," is where you write the name of the person or company you want to pay the check to. If you don't know the exact name, you can write "cash," but this can be risky if the check gets lost or stolen, as anyone can deposit or cash a check made out to "cash."

- Step 3: Write Payment Amount in Numbers 

On a check, there are two places to write the payment amount. First, write the dollar amount numerically (e.g. $130.45) in the small box on the right side of the check. Ensure it is written clearly so that the ATM and/or bank can accurately process the payment from your account.

- Step 4: Write Payment Amount in Words 

Under "Pay to the order of," write out the dollar amount in words to match the numerical amount you wrote in the box. For example, if paying $130.45, write "one hundred thirty and 45/100." When writing a check with cents, include the cents amount over 100. If the dollar amount is a round number, include "and 00/100" for clarity. Writing the amount in words is important as it confirms the correct payment total to the bank.

- Step 5: Memo Filling in the "Memo" 

line is optional but useful for keeping track of why the check was written. For example, you could write "Electric Bill" or "Monthly Rent" if paying for those expenses. Companies may also ask you to write your account number on the check in the memo section.

- Step 6: Signature 

Sign your name on the line at the bottom right-hand corner of the check using the signature you provided when opening the checking account. This indicates to the bank that you agree to pay the stated amount to the correct recipient.

How to balance a checkbook

Every time you make a purchase or deposit money, you should record it in your check register, which is located in your checkbook from Huntington. The purpose of the check register is to keep a record of all your financial transactions, including checks, ATM withdrawals, debit card purchases, and deposits. It's important to keep track of all these transactions.

- Keep a record of all transactions

When you pay by check, make a note of the check number, which can be found in the top right corner of the check. This helps you keep track of your checks and prevents any from going missing, and reminds you when you need to order more. 

Remember to write down the date of each transaction. In the "Transaction" or "Description" column, describe the purpose of the payment or the location where it was made. Then, record the exact amount in either the withdrawal or deposit column, depending on whether you spent money or received it. 

Finally, calculate the balance of your account by subtracting the amount of checks, withdrawals, payments, and bank fees or adding any deposits to the total from the previous transaction.

- Balance your bank statement each month 

When you receive your monthly bank statement, whether by mail or online, take the time to reconcile your checking account. Start by downloading our Balancing Worksheet. 

Then, follow the instructions to enter the information from your check register and bank statement, as well as any unrecorded deposits and outstanding checks/withdrawals. Once you have completed the worksheet, if your adjusted checkbook balance and account balance match, your checking account is reconciled.

If there are discrepancies, double-check your calculations, look for any outstanding checks that may not have cleared yet, and verify that you haven't missed any fees or transactions. If you suspect an error on your bank statement, contact Huntington promptly.

Read More: How to save money

Tips for Writing a Check

When writing a check, ensure that it is utilized as intended - for payment of the specified amount to the desired recipient.

Lost or stolen checks can be altered by thieves, leading to potential financial loss and time and effort in resolving the issue. To prevent this, take measures to secure the checks from being lost and vulnerable to alteration.

Security Tips

Adopt the following habits to reduce the risk of fraud on your account:

- Use a permanent writing instrument: Use a pen when writing a check to prevent anyone from altering the amount and payee with an eraser.

- Avoid blank checks: Fill in the payee's name and the amount before signing a check. If you're uncertain, bring a pen instead of leaving the check blank, which gives others unlimited access to your checking account.

- Prevent alteration of check amount: When entering the dollar amount on a check, ensure that it cannot be easily altered by scammers. Start writing at the far left of the space, and draw a line after the last digit. For example, if the check is for $8.15, write the number "8" as far left as possible and draw a line after the "5". Alternatively, write the numbers larger so they cannot be altered. If you leave space, it may be possible for someone to add additional numbers, changing the check amount to $98.15 or $8,159.

- Use carbon copies: To keep a record of each check written, use checkbooks with carbon copies. These checkbooks contain a thin sheet that creates a copy of each check. This allows for easy tracking of money and the details written on each check.

- Signature consistency: Many individuals have an illegible signature, and some even sign checks and credit card slips with playful drawings. However, using the same signature consistently helps you and your bank identify potential fraud. If a signature does not match, it becomes easier to prove that you are not responsible for the charges.

- Avoid "Cash" payees: Refrain from writing checks payable to "cash." This practice is just as dangerous as carrying a signed blank check or a large amount of cash. If you need cash, withdraw it from an ATM, receive cash back with a debit card purchase, or obtain it from a bank teller.

- Reduce check usage: Checks are not inherently risky, but there are safer payment options available. Electronic payments do not run the risk of getting lost or stolen and are easier to track, as they are in a searchable format with a timestamp and payee name. Use electronic bill payment for recurring expenses and a credit or debit card for daily spending.


Q : Is it possible to write a check to myself? 

Yes, you can write a check to yourself and deposit it using an ATM, at a bank branch, or through your mobile banking app. Follow the standard check writing process and enter your name in the "Pay to the Order of" section. Remember to endorse the back of the check when depositing it.

Q : When should I sign the check? 

It is recommended not to sign a check until after the "Pay to the Order of" section and both the numeric and written amount have been filled in. Signing a blank check leaves your bank account vulnerable in the event of loss or theft.

Read More: 25 Ways to Make Money Online, Offline and at Home


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