Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on personal finance. He covers banking, loans, investing, mortgages, and more for The Balance. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to writing about personal finance for more than two decades.

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Janet Berry-Johnson is a CPA with 10 years of experience in public accounting and writes about income taxes and small business accounting for companies such as Forbes and Credit Karma.
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Sample check. See below for a complete explanation.Justin Pritchard

For example, assume you need to write a check for eight dollars and fifteen cents (that’s $8.15). There are two steps:

Write the amount using numbers (see the red number one in the picture above).

First, write the amount in numeric formin thedollar box, located on the right side of your check next to the dollar sign (“$”). Start by writing the number of dollars (“8”) followed by a decimal point or period (“.”), and then the number of cents (“15”). Ultimately, you’ll have “8.15” in the dollar box. For more examples and practice questions, scroll down.

Next, to write out the check’s amountin words, the two steps are similar:

Write out the dollar amount.Write the word “and.”Write out the number of cents.

The tricky part is putting the number of cents intofraction format. To do so, write the number of cents, then write a slash (“/”), and then write the number 100. Technically, this is the fractional amount of whole dollars.

Using our $8.15 example, write the following:

“Eight dollars”“and”“15/100”

Write everything togetheron one lineso that it reads “Eight dollars and 15/100.” For a detailed example of how to write a check, see astep-by-step tutorialthat uses the same amount.

Now that you have the basic idea, let’s look at the example in more detail.

No “cents”: You might notice that the word “cents” doesn’t appear anywhere—you don’t need to use it when writing a check. It is sufficient to simply put the number of cents into the format above. If you want, you can certainly write “fifteen cents,” but it’s easier and faster to use the fraction format. Plus, your check probably has the word “Dollars” at theend of the line, so it would not make sense.

The word “and”:Include the word “and”just beforeyou write how many cents the check is for (or just after you write out the full dollar amount). You are writing a check for dollarsandcents. If you like, you can use an ampersand (“&”) or plus sign (“+”) instead. It is bestnotto use the word “and” elsewhere when you write out the amount. For example, the following example is incorrect, and the word “and” should be removed: “One hundred and five dollars.”

Percentages

It might help to think in terms of percentages: The word percent comes from a Latin term that roughly translates to “per 100.” That’s why cents are called “cents”—each one is one percentof a dollar.

Another way of looking at it is to consider that each cent is one one-hundredth of a dollar. When you write a check, you note how many dollars the check is for, including whole dollars as well aspartialdollars—or cents.


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Quiz time! Try a few more to solidify the concept.Richard Goerg / Getty Images

To solidify the concept and develop the habit, try several different dollar amounts.

Example:Write ten dollars and 99 cents on a check.

10.99Ten and 99/100

Example:Write eleven dollars and five cents on a check.

11.05Eleven and 5/100

Example:Write a check for five dollars.

5.00. Note the double zero—you should always have two digits to the right of the decimal.Five and 00/100. Here, you can use one or two zeros, but two is safer.

Example:Write a seventy-five-cent check.

0.75Zero dollars and 75/100

You might have noticed that the last example was forless than one dollar. To write a check for less than a full dollar, use a zero to show that therearen’tany dollars. After that, include the number of cents just like all of the other examples. You can also write “No dollars and….” if you prefer.

The five-dollar example can also be confusing. Just write a zero (or double zero) when there isn’t any other number to use. Some people would write that amount out as “Five dollars only,” which is also fine.


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There are easier ways to pay, and they're often free.MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Want to make your life even easier? Use fewer checks—or at least have your bank write your checks for you.

Online bill paymentallows you to set upautomatic payments or just pay when you feel likeit. Your bank will pay electronically if possible, or print a check and mail it. This service is typically free with most checking accounts, and you can send payments to businesses and individuals.

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Debit cardscan be used at merchants and online retailers. Just like a check, your debit card pulls funds from your checking account. For everyday spending, it may be safer to use credit cards to reduce the chance of errors and fraud hitting your checking account.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment serviceshelp you send money to friends and family,often for free. Those services draw money from your checking account electronically, so you’ll automatically have a record of every transaction.