How To Write a Check

Author:     Friday, January 31, 2014 12:00 AM

Once you know how to write a check, it's kind of like riding a bicycle. You never forget how. Like most tasks, however, check writing has a learning curve. So for beginners and anyone who would like a refresher course, here's a detailed look at how to write a check:

1. Note the check number. Each of your checks has an individual number. You'll need the number to update your checkbook when finished. You can find the number in the upper right corner of the check. It's repeated at the end of the long string of numbers at the bottom.

2. Fill in the date. This is usually the date you are writing the check, not the date it will be received. You can spell out the date or use numbers. For example, you might write November 27, 2014 or put 11/27/14. Note that you can postdate the check (put a future date on it). This is useful if you plan to deposit funds later, or need to wait for a deposit to show up in your account. If you do postdate, bear in mind that the recipient may refuse to accept the check.

3. Find the line that starts with "PAY". Write the recipient's name here. Credit companies and utilities sometimes have a preferred format for their names. Check your bills to see if there are instructions that begin with "Make Checks Payable to (company name)".

4. At the end of the PAY line, there's a box with a dollar sign ($). Write the amount you want to pay in numerals here (for example $100). Then spell out the amount on the line beneath (One Hundred Dollars). Putting the amount twice helps confirm that this what you choose to pay.

5. Add a Memo, if needed. The bottom line of the check has a space for writing a note. Use this space to note the reason for the payment. This memo will be a helpful reminder when you review your bank statement and checkbook.

6. Sign the check. The remaining space on the bottom line is for your signature. If you forget to sign a check, the recipient can deposit it anyway. The bank will allow the deposit unless you challenge the check when it appears in your bank statement.

7. Update your checkbook. Remember the check number you noted in the beginning. Now you can use it to keep a record of your payment. Open your bankbook (or use a computer utility that serves the same purpose). Note the date, the number of the check, the recipient, and the amount. When you receive a bank statement, check your records versus the statement, to make sure your checks have cleared and your bank account accurately reflects your payments.

Source: BFI