How to Write a Check

by Admin

It seems that everyday technology continues to makes certain things, such as writing a check, more obsolete. I think even my ability to spell has diminished over the years with programs like publishing programs and spell checkers. The convenience of debit cards, wire transfers, and debit cards have limited the need for checks but there are times where we still need to use a check. Some people also still prefer writing a check over using debit or credit cards.

How to Write a CheckWriting a check isn’t difficult but balancing your check book can be at times. I’m going to teach you how to write a check and even more importantly how to balance your checking account to avoid bouncing checks and those annoying overdraft fees that seem to go up every month.

How to Write a Check

Below is an example of a blank check. Lets take a look at all the important items you will find on a check.


1. Checking Number. Every check in your checking book will have a unique number. The purpose of this is so you can track your checks and balance your account, something we will discuss below.

2. Date. This is where you fill in the date that you are writing the check. Several variations of dates are acceptable including: January 1st, 2012, 1/1/12, or Jan. 1, 2012.

3. Bank identification code. These numbers are specific to your bank and are used by other banks when a check is deposited so they know where it’s coming from.

4. Pay to The Order Of. Here is where you write the name of the person or organization that you’re writing the check to. For example, if you’re writing a check to your brother Wilson McClain, you would put his full name here. Make sure to accurately write the name of the person or organization you’re writing the check to or they won’t be able to deposit the check.

5. Declare the amount of the check. Writing in the total you are paying someone. For example, if you were writing a check for five hundred dollars you would put $500.00.

6. Clearly print or write the check amount. You want to use words for the dollars and cents. Example, for $500 use “Five Hundred Dollars and Zero Cents”.

7. The memo is optional, but it can serve as good reminder. As an example, if you’re paying your rent you may want to put “rent” and the date or month the rent is for.

8. Sign the check with your name. Without a valid signature of the check holder another bank won’t accept the check. The back of the check is where the payee will sign there name before depositing the check.

9.  This is the bank routing number. This helps the depositing bank identify the bank the check is coming from.

10. This is your unique account number. When the depositing bank send the request to your bank for the withdrawal it will tell your bank which account the money is coming from.

11. Check number. This is simply your checking number displayed again, the same as seen in #1.

Now that you have learned how to write a check, there are few more important tips you should always follow. These tips will save you a lot of headaches and help you manage your money.

Balancing Your Checking Account

Balancing your checking account is essential to properly manage your money. It’s difficult to pay bills or plan budgets if you never know how much money you currently have available. Most checks books will have a register for you to balance your checking account. You can be as detailed as you want when balancing a checking account but I suggest you follow these rules at a bare minimum.

1. Enter the date you wrote the check and the check number. This will help you find the corresponding payment when you receive your statements.

2. Write a memo describing what the check was paying. As an example you could put “June car payment”, to describe your car payment.

3. Write the amount of the check.

Every time you write a check you deduct that from your current balance so you always know your current balance. Checking your account online will not always be accurate as it takes time for a check to clear. If you deposit or withdrawal money at the bank or with a debit card make sure to record that as well to get your new current balance.

At the end of every month when you receive your statement you should make sure your check registrar matches your the statement your bank sends you. Look for any discrepancies and if you can’t figure out what the discrepancy is make sure to contact your bank immediately. Remember you may have some outstanding checks that someone didn’t deposit yet.

Tips for Writing Checks

Order carbon copy checks. Carbon copy checks simply create a carbon copy of the check you wrote. They only cost a few dollars more than regular checks and are a good idea. If you ever forget to add an entry while balancing your checking account you can go through your carbon copies to see what you missed.

Balance your account every week. Staying on top of this will help prevent bounced checks and NSF charges. It’s important to start balancing your account from day one. The longer you go between balancing your account the more difficult it will be to resolve  discrepancies.

When using a post dated check make sure to let the payee know. When I am traveling I will stop by and drop off my rent check early but it’s post dated till the 1st of the month. I always advise the leasing office that the check is post dated so they aren’t wondering why a check hasn’t cleared and hit their account yet.

Make sure to destroy any voided or unused checks. Identity theft is more prevalent than ever, so make sure to shred all checks before throwing them out or you’re asking for trouble.

Use the entire space for the check amounts. Leaving any open space in the check amount area allows for potential forgery. Adding a zero is pretty easy to do and the last thing you want is a five hundred dollar check turning into a five thousand dollar check.

Following all these tips on writing checks will save you some headaches and help you to properly budget your money. Like anything in life, starting good habits early is always best. So make sure to always update your check registrar and balance your accounts every week.

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