Parts of a Check Labeled

Parts of a Check Labeled

Checks can be intimidating, especially when you have to write or are looking at one for the first time. You see a lot of numbers and fields, you want to make sure it’s filled out correctly but at the same time you’re thinking, What do all the parts of a check mean?

I’m in my early thirties and from my experience, I’ve only had to write a handful of checks.

That being said, you probably won’t have to write checks often but when you do, you’ll want to make sure you understand each part of a check.

The great thing about personal checks (vs. a business check) is that regardless of the bank, all personal checks have the same parts so you don’t have to worry about learning different parts of a check if you were to switch banks.

Parts of a Check: An Overview

All personal checks have a total of 12 parts. Half of the parts are always pre-printed and are for informational purposes only. The remaining parts, six in total, have to be filled out.

Here’s an overview of the twelve parts of a check:

1.Personal Information. Here’s where you’ll find your full name and address. If the account has more than one owner, you’ll see both names listed.
2.Check Number. The check number is included twice in every check; on the top right-hand corner and after the account number.
3.Bank Information. You’ll find your bank information in this section.
4.Routing (ABA) Number. The routing or ABA number represents your banks’ geographical location. For example, I have Chase and the routing number listed on my check is the same as someone living in Chicago.
5.Account Number. The account number represents your bank account number. Think of it as a social security number. Everyone has a unique account number.
6.Bank’s Fractional Number. This number represents your banks’ routing or ABA number in a fractional format.
7.Date Line. This line is the date when the check was written.
8.Payee Line. This line represents the person or financial institution receiving the money.
9.Written Dollar Amount Line. This line is the dollar amount you’re paying the 8.payee written in words.
10.Numerical Dollar Amount Box. This box is the dollar amount you’re paying the payee written in numerical format.
11.Memo Line. This line provides the reason the check was written. For example, if your check is to make a mortgage payment, you would write something like, “Dec ’21 Mortgage Payment”.
12.Signature Line. This signature line is your authorization for the bank to take money out of your account and pay the payee.


Back of a Check

Parts of a Check: Pre-Printed Sections

Let’s start with the pre-printed parts of a check. These are the parts of a check that don’t have to filled out.

Every personal check has six pre-printed parts regardless of the bank or financial institution.

1. Personal Information In the top left-hand corner, you’ll find your personal information.
You’ll see your first and last name and address. You can also choose to have your phone number listed if you request it from your bank.

2. Check Number Every check has a check number. You’ll find the check number in two places; in the top right corner and after or near the account number.

When you write a check, I suggest taking a picture of the check to reference the check information including the number if needed.

A check number is there to help you keep track of the checks written and if they’ve been deposited.

3. Bank Information In addition to a check including your personal information, it also includes your bank’s information. Not every bank chooses to provide the same information. Some choose to provide their address and website URL, others don’t for example.

Overall, at a minimum, all banks include their name and logo.

Parts of a Check: Fill-Out Sections

Next, we’ll review the parts of a check that have to be filled out. There are six parts of a check that have to be filled out.

7. Date Line

The date line is the date the check was written.

Tip: If you want to delay when the money is debited from your account. You can write a future date and notify your bank of the date. If you write a future date and don’t notify your bank, there’s no guarantee your bank will honor the date. So, if you do have to write a future date, make sure you notify your bank by either written or verbal notification.

8. Payee Line

The payee line is the person or institution that is receiving your money. If you’re writing a check to someone, be sure to include the person’s first and last name.

The payee is the only person (or institution) that can deposit the check. For example, I can’t deposit a check (and get the money) that has someone’s name in the payee line.

There is one caveat to that statement, however. If a check is signed by the payee (the person that’s supposed to receive the money), someone other than the payee can deposit the check to their bank account.

For example, I have a friend who doesn’t have a bank account and therefore can’t deposit his check. He asks that I deposit the check into my account and provide the money in cash. If he signs the back of the check (considered “endorsing” the check), I can deposit the check into my bank account even though I’m not the payee.

If you receive a check, it’s best practice to sign it right before depositing it. You don’t want to sign a check, keep it for a few weeks and then lose it as someone else could deposit it.

Tip: If you’re not sure who the payee is, make sure to call either the person or institution to confirm.

Here’s a short video that explains each step.

9. Written Dollar Amount Line You’ll find the check amount in two parts in every check. The amount is written in words and numerical format. We will start with the written dollar amount line.

The written dollar amount line is below the payee line.

The whole dollar amount is written in words and the decimal is written in “x/100” format. For example, if the decimal was $.50, it would be written as 50/100. If the cents were $.34, it would be written as 34/100.

Read, How to Write Out Numbers Using Words, if you need a refresher when you’re ready to write your check.

Tip: If the written dollar amount (including the decimal format) does not take up the entire lines’ space, be sure to write a line until the end of it. See the picture above as an example. It’s important to take up all the space to ensure someone doesn’t try to alter the amount.

They include your rent or mortgage, utilities, car insurance, gas or public transportation, cell phone, etc.

Make a list of your fixed expenses, and sum the total.

4. CONFIRM FIXED PLUS DEBT EXPENSES TOTAL The fourth step is simply adding your fixed and debt expenses.

I call these mandatory expenses because they are the bills you have to pay each month.

At this point, you understand the total dollar amount that you have to spend each month.

Your mandatory expenses total is a very important number to understand. Whether good or bad. If you are spending more than you want, at least you are aware of that now!

5. SET ASIDE MONEY FOR SAVINGS The fifth step is where you get the opportunity to prioritize your savings!

Remember, it is not about saving what remains after spending.

It’s about spending what remains after saving.

First, confirm your remaining income (=Income – Mandatory Expenses) after setting aside money for mandatory expenses.

Next, choose the amount you want to save.

Lastly, the remainder (=Income – Mandatory Expenses – Savings) is what you will spend on variable expenses.

How do you know what remains is enough for your variable expenses?

You won’t know exactly but you can do your best to make it work.

What remains is spent on categories that are under your control.

You get to choose how much you spend on groceries, eating out, clothes, streaming and subscription services, accessories, etc.

If you’re at a point in your life where not a lot remains after setting aside money for mandatory expenses, please know that understanding that is the first step to choosing to change it.

Understanding my savings potential is what helped me increase my savings by 105% in 1 hour.

Before, I was saving $1,000 a month. Now, I save $2,050 every month.

It’s that simple step of understanding your savings potential and then choosing how much you want to save before you spend on anything else that’s life-changing.

Most people don’t see saving that way but they should.

6. CONFIRM VARIABLE EXPENSES BUDGET The sixth step is confirming your variable expenses budget (=Income – Mandatory Expenses – Savings).

The total is your monthly budget moving forward!

Your monthly budget will be spent on: The list above does not represent categories.

It’s a list of expenses that are paid with your variable budget.


The seventh and final step is to choose your variable categories and assign each a budget.

Do your best to simplify your categories.

There’s no right or wrong number of categories but there’s a high probability you don’t need 10.

Start with the essentials such as groceries, household, personal, and fun.

Yes, everyone should have a fun category!

Make a list of your variable categories, and sum the total. The total should equal your monthly budget.

I encourage you to save for future expenses in the form of sinking funds.

If you do, a sinking fund becomes one of your categories.

A sinking fund (or savings fund) is a future expense that you save for each month. You typically put aside a little each month until you’ve achieved your goal.

Common sinking funds include Christmas, Vacation, Back to School, etc.

After successfully prioritizing your savings and understanding your monthly budget moving forward, it’s time to learn how to stick to both goals. Here is a recap of all seven money management steps using my real numbers:

Parts of a Check FAQ

Lastly, let’s review frequently asked questions.

Question: Where is the account number on a check? Answer: The account number is near the center bottom of every check. It’s before a unique symbol (pictured above) and is between 3-17 digits. The check number is typically listed near the account number so be sure not to get confused. Just focus on the numbers before the symbol (reference picture above as an example).

Question: What to know when ordering checks? Answer: You’ll need to confirm your routing and account number. You can find both on any check if you have one or by logging into your online account. You’ll also need to provide a quantity.

Question: How many checks are in a checkbook? Answer: Most personal check boxes contain 100 checks. Unless you plan to frequently write checks, I suggest just buying a handful. When you open an account, you’ll get a handful for free.

Question: What is the MP on the signature line? Answer: MP stands for Micro Print and is a security feature on the signature line.

Question: Do checks expire? Answer: A personal check is typically valid six months from the check date. Some banks won’t accept a check older than six months. After you receive a check, it’s best practice to deposit it within two weeks.

Back to list

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *