Justin Pritcdifficult, CFP, is a fee-just advisor and also an expert on personal finance. He covers banking, loans, investing, mortgperiods, and also more for The Balance. He has an MBA from the University of Coloraperform, and also has actually operated for credit unions and large financial firms, in enhancement to creating around individual finance for even more than two years.

You are watching: Anatomy of a check


Khadija Khartit is a strategy, investment, and capital skilled through over 25 years of endure. She is an educator of fintechnology and also strategic finance at top colleges. Khadija is a Fulbright Scholar and also she got her MBA from Oklahoma State College and also her master's in finance from Boston College.
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Justin Pritchard

Each of the blue numbers synchronizes to a vital aspect of this empty inspect. Scroll dvery own for both the name and function of each of these sections. Some elements of a examine are self-explanatory, such as the date. Others have interesting quirks that are distinct to check composing, such as writing out dollar quantities through words.

The individual informationsection gives details around the account owner, who is the one paying money.The payee line designates that deserve to get the money.The dollar box display screens the value of the examine in numerical format.The amount of your checkis created out in this area utilizing words rather of numbers.The memo lineis a space for any type of notes about the function of the inspect.The date line serves as a timestamp for the check.The signature line verifies that the account owner has actually apconfirmed the payment.Your bank’s call informationand/or logo is commonly printed on the check.Your account numberat your bank is one more identifier that allows the recipient recognize wright here the money for the check will certainly come from.The examine number(note that this appears in 2 places) is a security measure to recognize each payment and also prevent fraud.

Theearlier of a inspect, which isn"t pictured below, contains a space forendorsements. A check is expected to be endorsed, or signed by the recipient, prior to it is deposited or camelted.


Personal Information

The upper-left edge of a inspect frequently reflects personal identifying indevelopment around the account owner, and also it is nearly always pre-published on checks.

This section primarily includes:

Your nameA home addressYour phone number

This indevelopment is typically either the call information associated via the bank account or the call indevelopment you select to have actually printed when you order checks from your financial institution.

If you"re came to about privacy, you can limit the amount of indevelopment on your checks or take measures such as utilizing a short article office box rather of your home deal with.

It"s not unprevalent for retailers torequirecertain details to accept a examine. They might handcreate your phone number on the inspect, for example. This provides it less complicated for them to protect themselves in case of examine fraud.


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Justin Pritchard

In this area, you specify who will certainly obtain funds from your checking account. Write the name of the perboy or organization that you wish to pay, additionally well-known as the payee. Only the payee is permitted to deposit the check, cash it, or endorse it to someone else.

Use the recipient"s complete name, rather than a nickname, to prevent any type of confusion or challenge for the person depositing the examine.

If you don"t desire to name a particular perchild or organization, it is possible to pay your check to the order of "Cash." However, this is riskies bereason anybody can cash the check, not just your intended payee.


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Justin Pritchard

Write the amount of your check in numerical format (for example, "1,250.00" instead of "one thousand two hundred fifty") in the dollar box.

For defense, you want to make it as challenging as feasible for someone to alter the number you write in this box.

Write the numbers as much to the left as feasible.Clbeforehand enter a decimal and also any numbers after the decimal.Include ".00" for round dollar amounts.

This box is occasionally referred to as the "courtesy box" bereason it shows up on the check as a courtesy or convenience. The number in this box is not supplied to identify the legal amount of your inspect. Instead, the main amount originates from the line listed below, coming before the word "DOLLARS."

In concept, both amounts must complement, but sometimes they don"t. In those cases, the created words take precedence over the numbers in the dollar box.


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Justin Pritchard

On this line, compose the amount of your examine utilizing words (as opposed to making use of numerals). For example, if you write a check for $10.50, you would certainly create "Ten and 50/100" in this area.

If there is space either before or after the amount you write out, you might want to strike through it via a single line in order to proccasion anyone from altering the worth of your inspect.

On this line, cents are composed as fractions of a dollar, quite than as complete cents. Due to the fact that there are 100 cents in eincredibly dollar, put the variety of cents over the number 100.

If there"s any kind of difference between the dollar box and the amount composed in words, the financial institution is meant to ignore the dollar box. That"s because words are harder to transform than numbers.


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The memo line deserve to be offered to write an unofficial note on your inspect. This is entirely optional and it deserve to be written in informal terms. Use the memo line to:

Add details for your individual recordkeepingInclude an account, invoice, or transaction number for paying billsAdd notes when you"re composing checks to friends or family

You do not necessarily should gain whatever on the memo line. You can compose additional information simply about all over on the front of a examine, as long as it does not cover up any kind of necessary indevelopment. However before, you must not usage the ago of the inspect for composing any kind of memo information.


Justin Pritchard

Get in the day in this room. If you want to delay the transactivity, you have the right to create a future day and also notify the financial institution.

However before, you can"t sindicate post-date checks and intend the financial institution to delay the transactivity. Banks generally have no obligation to adright here to the day written on the examine unless you clearly inform them.

Usually, if you notify your financial institution or credit union about a post-dated check in a timely manner, that alert is valid for six months. If you educate them verbally, rather than in composing, the notice is valid for two weeks. In that time, they should not cash the inspect prior to the day created on it.


Justin Pritchard

The payer indications the inspect at the line on the bottom right-hand also corner of the inspect. This is a security feature, and the signature have the right to be compared to the account holder"s signature on file.

Signing is the last action of writing a inspect, and also it should only be completed after double-checking all other sections of the inspect. If you sign an otherwise empty inspect and shed track of it, whoever finds it can put whatever before they want in those empty spaces.

You may find the letters "MP" beside the signature line. Itindicates that the inspect has a protection attribute calledmicroprinting. Microprinting requires tiny words on your inspect that cannot be detected by the naked eye.


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Your bank"s name shows up on every examine you compose. However before, this section doesn"t contain necessary info, such as the routing number. A phone number and also resolve might be consisted of, or you can simply view the bank"s logo.

If you obtained a check from somebody, this section tells you wbelow they bank and wright here the money will come from. If you desire to cash the check, you may have the ability to do it at that financial institution (any branch location—not necessarily at the same deal with displayed on the check).

However, financial institutions have actually no obligation to cash anyone"s inspect. They may charge a fee or refuse to cash it if you"re not a customer.


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The routing number, discovered at the bottom left of your inspect, serves as an "address" for your bank. With that number, other banks can call your financial institution and collect funds from your account as soon as you compose a examine.

While this is the very same information as the fractional ABA, the routing number along the bottom of the examine is composed in a specific font with a distinct ink. Known as "Magnetic Ink Character Recognition," or MICR, this enables checks to be easily review and processed by computers.


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Your account number is likewise located on the bottom of a inspect, and it likewise makes use of MICR.

In many instances, tright here are 3 numbers at the bottom of a check, and your account number is the one in the middle. Some checks usage a various format, so it"s a great concept to confirm your account number. For example, company checks and checks developed by an online bill payment system have actually a slightly various format.

A excellent way to uncover your account number is to look for the "⑈" symbol. Your account number appears just prior to that symbol.


Justin Pritchard

A inspect number is a reference number that will certainly assist you:

Track which checks have been processed by your bankKnow which checks are still outstanding

Some checks have the inspect number printed in MICR to aid prevent fraud.

This number commonly appears in two places, both the upper- and lower-ideal corners. Aobtain, checks may be formatted in different ways depending on wbelow they are printed. A good guideline for finding the inspect number is to look for the smallest or shortest number—that"s frequently the examine number.


Justin Pritchard

In enhancement to the MICR line along the bottom of the examine, the bank"s ABA routing number is generally additionally published in its fractional format on the upper best corner ofa examine.

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In some instances, the number is somewhere else, however if you"re working through aindividual inspect,you need to look toward the top ideal.

Similar to the MICR line, this number represents the bank, its place, and also the Federal Reserve branch which solutions the bank. ABA routing numbers are even more than a century old, and also the fractional format aided bankers recognize important information prior to the introduction of MICR.