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Video:How to Write a Check

with Jonathon E. Stewart

In our modern world of electronic banking, paper checks are used less and less. But for some transactions they're still standard, so you must know how to write 'em right! See how to fill out checks, and learn what all the numbers on checks indicate.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Write a Check

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. You know those things your bank sends you every once in a while, that come in stacks of four or five in a little box with a blue or green plastic cover? In this age of online bill pay, automatic debit, and credit cards being accepted just about everywhere, you might not be acquainted with these things they call, "checks." But either way, here's how you use 'em. Check it out.

Why Use Paper Checks?

While electronic funds transfers are more and more prevalent these days, checks still work perfectly well for those without consistent access to the internet, or for people who simply prefer to stick with the banking methods they're used to.

So when it comes time to balance your checkbook, just whip out your abacus and you're all set. While reducing or eliminating the use of checks in your personal or business finances will help to reduce the number of trees destroyed every year, they can serve to be a valuable record for some transactions, kind of like a receipt.

Write the Check

Filling out a check is a pretty easy process. Start by writing the date at the top, and the name of the business or individual you're transferring money to on the "Pay To The Order of" line. Next, write the amount you're paying in decimal form in the box immediately to the right of the dollar sign, then in long form on the line below. Write the number of dollars first, according to the grammar rules you learned in seventh grade, then the word "and" to indicate the decimal point, followed by a fraction over 100 to indicate the number of cents.

You do not need to write the word "dollars" or "cents," since the word should be printed to the right already. Be absolutely sure this part is legible, as it is the only section banks actually use to determine how much to transfer from your account - the decimal version is for reference only. Pay to the order of Mrs. Wilbur Stark one dollar and nice cents!

Sign the Check

Finally, sign your name at the lower right, and leave a note to yourself or the payee on the "For" line about the nature of the transaction. This is entirely optional, and can include anything from account numbers to personal reminders of what you've written the check for. Be sure to record the date, payee, and amount of the check in your check register for future reference.

Numbers on Checks

To clear up the mystery of the numbers at the bottom of the check, the first set is usually the routing number for your bank, which just lets other banks know where to find your account. The middle number - if any - should be the same as your check number, and the final number is your personal or business checking account number.

So go on - write your checks. Be old fashioned. I still write a few, too. Just don't be the one at the grocery store who writes a check for a can of tuna fish while the rest of us are waiting patiently behind you.

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