How To Write A Check: A Quick And Easy GuideHow often do you write checks? It could be daily or just a few times a year. When it comes time to write a check the real question becomes, do you know how to write a check?

Research shows that nearly half of Americans are still regularly writing checks. In fact, 46 percent write a couple of checks a month. Checks may not be as popular as they once were, but they certainly aren’t as obsolete as you may assume.

The number of checks written daily in the US has decreased significantly over the past 35 years. At the same time, the average value of each check has increased significantly. Checks are still more widely used in the US compared to other countries.

On average, 13.5 million checks were written every day in 2022. Comparatively, the average in 1989 was about 72 million checks per day. The average value of each check has increased by close to $2,000.

Money orders saw the same trend with an average of 258,000 written daily in 2022, compared to 587,000 in 1989. The amount varies by about $200, respectively.

The younger the American, the less often they write checks. Studies show that check usage is less likely among those 54 and younger.

This can be credited to the increase in debit card use and online banking. As well as, the popularity of mobile platforms such as Venmo, CashApp, and Zelle. These apps allow for wireless money transfers.

While such apps offer convenience, they also come with the concern of security and privacy, said Pew Research Group. There are still cases in which millennials and younger generations have the need for checks. Instances such as security deposits, rent payments, and small business and self-employment purposes.

Surprisingly, nearly 90% of millennials report writing at least one check a quarter. However, since they write checks less often, many don’t know how to properly fill out a check. Thus, the increase in online, check “how to” searches.

Things to Know Before Writing a Check

  • A check can only be written from a checking account. This is a federal regulation. Money in savings or another type of bank account cannot fund a check. You must transfer the funds to a checking account before writing a check.
  • If you don't have checks, money orders are often accepted in place of checks.
  • Never sign a blank check.
  • Always fill out the check entirely.
  • Always write a check using blue or black ink.
  • Always write a check in clear, legible handwriting. Print all sections of the check, except for your signature.

Template: How to Write a Check
How to Write a Check

Writing a check is easy and can be broken down into 6 quick steps.

  1. Date: First, begin by writing the date in the top, right corner of the check. This is important for bank and transactional records. There is usually a line noting where to fill in the date.

If you are postdating the check, be sure to check your state laws to confirm it is legal. In most states, postdating is allowed. Though it's frowned upon in business.

If you postdate a check, that means you are writing the check to be cashed at a future date. This is often done when paying bills.

Example: You get paid on May 31 and your water bill is due the following day on June 1. You will likely mail your payment in advance to make sure it is received on time. However, if it’s received early, you may not want the utility company cashing your check until after you get paid. Ensuring that the funds are available in your account. Therefore, you may postdate the check for the day the bill is due.

  1. Paid to the Order of: Next, fill in the name of the recipient. This can be an individual or a business.

A few things to note:

  • This line can be made out to cash. However, this allows anyone to process the check. So, make sure its delivery is secure.
  • If you write in two or more entities on this line, they must have a joint checking account in order to cash or deposit the check.

Example: You give a couple a check as a wedding gift. You make the check out to John and Jane Doe. Therefore, to process the funds, they must both be on the account.

  1. Amount Box: Fill in the box with the amount, in numbers, that the check is for. The box is to the right of the "Pay to the Order of" line. You should write the payment amount in dollars and cents.

Example: If the check is for $100, write "100.00" in the box.

Pro Tip: If you write small or the amount does not take up all the space in the box, place a line through the empty space. This prevents fraud by deterring someone from adding digits and tampering with the amount.

  1. Amount Line: This line is where you write out the dollar amount in words. It is the second line on the check, below "Pay to the Order of." At the end of this line, you will see the word "Dollars" written under the Amount Box.

Example: If you are writing a check for $100, the text notation would be written out as "One Hundred and 0/100." If it was $117.73, the text notation would be written out as, "One Hundred Seventeen and 73/100."

Pro Tip: If you write small or the amount does not take up the full line, draw a line in the empty space. Again, this prevents fraud by deterring someone from tampering with the check amount.

  1. Memo Line: This is the only section of the check that isn't mandatory. However, it is helpful for you and the recipient if you add a note.

On this line, you write what the check is for. This note is informative for the recipient. It can also be helpful for your record keeping.

Example: In Step 1 we referenced paying your water bill. On the memo line, you would write your account number so the utility company knows which account to apply the payment.

  1. Signature: On the line in the bottom, right corner of the check you will endorse the check. This is where you place your signature to sign for the amount of the check.

Other Notations On a Check

The six steps above cover how to fill out a check. There are other notations you will see on the check though.

On the front, you will see the issuer's information in the top left corner. This is helpful if the recipient needs to contact the person who wrote the check.

In the top right corner is the check number. This number serves as record-keeping for the issuer.

Lastly, along the bottom are the account and routing numbers. These numbers are extremely important for the banks to process the funds. It tells the institution that is cashing the check what bank and accounts the funds are withdrawing from. Each financial institution has a unique routing number and every account has their own number.

On the back of the check is a line for the recipient to endorse the check for cash or deposit.

How to Order Checks

So, you’re ready to write a check, but wondering where do I get checks? Paper checks can be ordered from your bank or financial institution. There is a slew of vendors who create personalized checks made to order. If you use a third-party vendor, you simply provide your name, address, and account information.

Mailing a Check

Once your check has been properly filled out, it’s time for delivery. Most often, checks are delivered via Certified Mail®.

Certified Mail, a service of USPS, provides the mailer with 'proof' which includes the date an item is mailed, letter tracking, and delivery confirmation. To provide proof the item was delivered, Certified Mail requires a signature upon delivery.

What’s the safest way to mail a check? When you mail a check, Certified Mail Labels is the easiest and cheapest way to do so. Skip the trip to the Post Office and save $2.45 on each Certified letter you send with Certified Mail Labels.

Senders receive email notifications with Electronic Delivery Confirmations, Return Receipt Signatures, and tracking, allowing you to track your check until it’s in the hands of its intended recipient.

Using bank-grade encryption, our complimentary 10-year compliance archive serves as a secure and impeccable record keeper. Create USPS Certified Mail® labels, Priority Mail labels, and Express Mail labels with USPS Postage online from the comfort of your home or office.

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Additional Resources:

How To Properly Write, Address a Letter And Must Know Mail Regulations