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Money and Finance

How to Fill Out a Check

What is a check?

A check is a piece of paper that tells the bank to pay money from a bank account. It is a way to pay someone without using cash.

How a Check Works

One person or business writes the check to another person or business for a certain amount of money. That person can then go their bank and use the check to get the money. For example, John writes a check to Jane for $50. Jane then takes the check to her bank and cashes it. The bank gives her $50 in cash.

How to Fill Out a Check

If you've never filled out a check, it can be a bit confusing at first. Below is a diagram of a check with all the different parts of the check labeled. Instructions for each numbered item are below the check.

1) This is the date that the check is written. You can write out the date like "January 1, 2014" or you can just use a number like "1/1/14".

Sometimes people will "post-date" a check. This means they will write the check for a later date. The check can't be cashed until the date written on the check. People may post-date a check until after a time when they know they will have enough money in the bank to cover the check.

2) This is who you are writing the check to. This could be a person or a company.

3) This is the amount of money the check is for. In this box the amount is written in numbers. For example, $125.50.

4) This is also the amount of money the check is for, but this time the amount is written in words. For example, one hundred twenty five dollars and 50/100s. The 50/100s represents $0.50.

5) This is where you sign the check. Write your signature here. In some cases, businesses may use a stamp for the signature.

6) This is a memo. You can write anything here. For example, if you were writing a check to a neighbor kid for mowing the lawn you might write "for mowing the lawn" here. It's mostly used as a reminder of what the check was for.

What are all those numbers on the check?

Most checks have numbers on them that mean different things. See the example diagram of the check below for the different numbers. The numbers might be in different locations on your check.

7) This is the check number. Each check in your checkbook has a unique number. This number helps to keep track of payments. You write this number in your checkbook along with the amount.

8) This is the address of the person or business of the check. It is printed on your checks when you order them.

9) This is the routing number. This is used for electronic transactions.

10) This is the checking account number. This is an important number that indicates your specific bank account.

Endorsing a Check

When you get a check made out to you, you will need to endorse the check at the bank before you can get your money. You endorse the check by signing it on the back. There is a specific spot where you are supposed to sign the check. If there are two people's names on the check, they both may need to sign the back. See the picture below:

When looking at the check from the front, you will sign on the back-left.

If you want to add some security and make sure that someone else can't cash the check, you can write "For Deposit Only" on the back. This way the money should only be deposited into the account of the payee.

Learn More about Money and Finance:

Personal Finance

Filling out a Check
Managing a Checkbook
How to Save
Credit Cards
How a Mortgage Works
How Interest Works
Insurance Basics
Identity Theft

About Money

History of Money
How Coins are Made
How Paper Money is Made
Counterfeit Money
United States Currency
World Currencies
Money Math

Counting Money
Making Change
Basic Money Math
Money Word Problems: Addition and Subtraction
Money Word Problems: Multiplication and Addition
Money Word Problems: Interest and Percent


How Banks Work
How the Stock Market Works
Supply and Demand
Supply and Demand Examples
Economic Cycle
Adam Smith
How Taxes Work
Glossary and Terms

Note: This information is not to be used for individual legal, tax, or investment advice. You should always contact a professional financial or tax advisor before making financial decisions.

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