Whenever you hold a check that is empty in your palm, you will find out it contains no instructions as to how you will fill it. Once you make any mistakes while filling it, it could pose a threat to your transactions. Therefore, learn about the different parts of a check and how you can fill one.
Although the world has gone digital, people still use checks. This is because a check is an efficient and inexpensive tool that people use to move money.
Every check has information that is printed inside of it as well as blank sections. It is very vital that you understand every part of a check before filling the blank sections.
Understanding the components of a check will help you to order new checks and confirm that any checks you receive are filled out properly.
Table of Contents
13 Parts of a Check
Here is an overview of the different parts of a check with a quick explanation of how the space is used.
- Personal information: This part gives details about the account owner who is making the payment.
- Payee line: This shows who can receive the money.
- Dollar box: It shows the value of the cheque in numerics.
- The amount of your check: This comes in alphabets instead of numbers.
- The Memo line: This is a space where you state the purpose of the cheque.
- The dateline: This serves as a timestamp for the cheque.
- Your bank’s contact information and/or logo are usually printed on the cheque.
- Your bank’s American Bankers Association (ABA) routing number: This tells banks where to find the funds for the cheque.
- The signature line: It confirms that the account owner has authorized the payment.
- Your account number: This lets the recipient know where the money for the cheque will come from.
- The check number: This normally appears in two places. It serves as a security measure to identify each payment and eliminate fraud.
- Your bank’s fractional ABA number: This contains the same information as the ABA, however, it usually comes in another format in the upper right corner of the check too.
- The back of a check: This contains a space for endorsements where the issuer signs the cheque before it is deposited or cashed.
Now we would explain more about the different parts of a check and the components each check contains.
What to Write in the Different Components of a Check
While writing a check or cheque, you may choose to fill it out in any order of your choice.
Here, we will take you through the 13 parts of a check one after the other on what to write in each section of a check. We arranged the steps from the top of the cheque to the bottom so that you will not skip any step.
1. Personal Information
You can find the personal information on the upper-left of the check. The personal information indicates the owner of the account and it is usually pre-printed on checks.
This component of the check contains:
- Your name
- A home address
- Your phone number
This section contains the bank account’s contact information or the contact information you choose to have printed when you order cheques from your bank.
2. Payee Line
The payee line shows who will receive the money from the person issuing the check. On the payee line, write the name of the person or company (payee) that you wish to issue the cheque.
You can write the payee’s name in full. We advise that you do not write the payee’s nickname to avoid confusion at the bank.
3. Dollar Box
Sometimes, the dollar box is called the courtesy box. This is because it appears on the cheque as a support or help.
While issuing a cheque to someone, write the amount of your cheque in numerical format. For example, write “5,400.00” instead of “five thousand and four hundred” in the dollar box.
The amount you write which comes in numbers inside the dollar box does not determine the official amount of your cheque.
Rather, the amount in words that appear below the dollar box determines the official amount of the cheque.
Generally, the numerical amount in the dollar box should tally with the amount in words that come below the dollar box. In a situation whereby it does not match, the amount in words should be preferred to the amount in numbers.
4. Check Amount (Words)
In this section, write the amount that you wish to pay out in words (letters). For instance, if the amount in numbers is $5,400.00, you should write “Five Thousand and Four Hundred”.
Once you are done writing the amount, if there is any space left, you can choose to rule a single across it so as to prevent anybody from changing the amount on the cheque.
5. Memo Line
You can use the memo line to write an unofficial note on your cheque. It is not compulsory that you fill this section. Generally, you can use the memo line to:
- Enter details for your personal recordkeeping
- Add an account, invoice, or transaction number for paying bills
- Write notes whenever you are writing checks to friends or family
Alternatively, you can include additional information anywhere on the front of a check provided such information does not cover up any important information.
Do not use the back of the check to add any memo information.
6. Date Line
This is the section where you write the date. If you want the payee to cash the cheque in the future, you can write the payee an outdated cheque and inform your bank.
Failure to notify, your bank will not honor the date written on the cheque.
Keep in mind that once you issue a post-dated cheque and notify the bank, that notice is only valid for six (6) months.
If you notify the bank verbally instead of making it official through writing, such notice will be valid for only two weeks. In that time, they should not cash the check before the date written on it
7. Signature Line
This is the section where the payer signs or endorses the cheque. You can find it at the bottom right-hand corner of the cheque. The signature line is a security feature on the cheque.
Next to the signature line are two letters “MP”. These letters show that the check has a security feature known as microprinting.
In other words, microprinting comprises tiny words on the cheque that cannot be seen with naked eyes.
The signature line is the last part of the cheque that you fill before handing out the cheque to the payee.
If you ever sign a blank cheque and misplace it, anybody that finds it can fill out the other parts and cash the cheque.
8. Your Bank’s Contact Information
The name of your bank appears on any check that you issue to the payee. This part of the cheque may bear a phone number and address or the bank’s logo.
Once anyone issues you a cheque, this section will let you know the name of the bank you will go to and cash the cheque.
9. ABA Routing Number (MICR Format)
The ABA routing number which comes in MICR format plays the role of your bank’s address.
It is located at the bottom left corner of the cheque and other banks use it to contact your bank so as to take money from your account whenever you issue a cheque.
Additionally, this number is written in a special ink called “Magnetic Ink Character Recognition,” or MICR.
This number helps computers to read and process cheques with ease. It contains the same information which the fractional ABA routing number carries.
10. Your Account Number
You can find your account number at the bottom part of the cheque. It also comes in MICR prints. At the bottom of your cheque, you will find three numbers, the middle number is your account number.
For easy identification, your account number comes before the “⑈” symbol at the bottom part of your cheque.
However, business checks and checks created by an online bill payment system appear in a different format. So, you’ll have to take your time in figuring out the account number.
11. Check Number
This reference number will help you to:
- Balance your checkbook
- Track which checks have been processed by your bank
- Know which checks are still outstanding
Banks produce some checks such that the check number is printed in MICR. This helps to eliminate any form of fraud that anyone wishes to carry out.
In addition, the check number usually appears on the upper- and lower-right corners of the check.
Wondering which number is the cheque number? Check for the smallest or shortest number on the cheque.
12. ABA Routing Number (Fractional Format)
The bank’s ABA routing number is printed in a fractional format on the upper right corner of a check. Sometimes, this number can appear somewhere else on the cheque.
If you have a personal cheque, you can easily locate this number in the upper right corner of the cheque.
Like the MICR line, the ABA routing number symbolizes the bank, its Federal Reserve branch location, and the bank’s location.
This number is over a hundred years old and the fractional format helps bankers to recognize important information before the emergence of MICR.
13. Back of a check
The back of a check contains a space for endorsements where the issuer signs the cheque before it is deposited or cashed.
If a check is not signed it would not be able to be cashed, because the bank required the signature of the issuer before it can be endorsed by a third party.