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Mistakes to Avoid When Filling Out a Check

A check is an instrument used by individuals and businesses alike to transfer money from one account to another. The payer writes a check and then signs their name on it, allowing for them (and only them) to withdraw money from their account(s). Checks can be issued electronically or printed in-house; both versions require that you fill out some information before presenting it for payment. While filling out checks seems pretty straight forward, there are several mistakes that people commonly make when completing checks. These mistakes include writing illegible or missing information as well as improperly identifying payees, payers, and/or amounts. If any of these areas are left blank or filled out incorrectly, you'll likely not receive payment for your services or goods.

If you’re like most people, then you probably write checks on occasion to pay for things like your rent or utility bills. However, if you’re one of the few who has never written a check before, then you might be wondering exactly how to fill one out. This can be a bit confusing at first, but it doesn’t have to be as long as you avoid making certain mistakes. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when filling out your next check.

Address Line

Your address is typically listed on your check, so if you enter it incorrectly and send it off into cyberspace, it can be returned to you as undeliverable. You also want to make sure that you're entering all of your personal information correctly; it’s always embarrassing when you’re forced to update your information or are notified by another party about incorrect info because they have the wrong contact. When filling out a check, make sure your name and address are correct before hitting send. And if you're sending a payment via PayPal or Venmo, make sure all of your account info is correct before transferring funds! Pay attention—the correct spelling of an email address can spell disaster for important business correspondence!

Payee Line

Always double-check that you’ve got your payee line filled out correctly. Most checks list pay to the order of in one of two places: on top, where it says Payer’s Name, or at the bottom, where it says Pay To The Order Of. While these are both correct ways of filling out your check, if you fill out either section incorrectly (by writing Payee Line instead of either Payer’s Name or Pay To The Order Of), then you may end up paying someone else entirely or have your check bounce.

Payor’s Name

This is your name if you are paying by check. A check usually has two parties listed: Payer and Payee. The payor (the person who writes the check) is listed first, followed by payee. If you aren’t sure of your name, check your driver’s license or other forms of ID that have it on them. While there are always exceptions, it's best not to abbreviate any names on a check; for example, write out Yours Truly instead of Yours truly.

Amount and Date of Payment

The easiest mistake to make when filling out checks is putting too much or too little money in each payment. The amounts written on each check are important as they communicate how much you are expecting your recipients to pay you back. If you overpay them, they’ll be more inclined to pay you back than if they feel like they owed you less in cash; conversely, it’s generally easier for people who feel like they owe you more than their check indicates (due to owing interest or penalties) will be reluctant payers. Your date of payment should obviously reflect what month and year payments are due by. If your dates aren’t consistent, it can cause big problems down the line.

Tax Information Section

You may be tempted to skip writing in or crossing out some of these details. After all, you just want to fill out your check and get on with your day. But when it comes time for tax season, having all of these details written down can help make sure you don’t forget anything. Or worse—get stuck paying extra taxes! Take five minutes now and do yourself a favor by filling out as much of each section as possible. This will make filing that much easier come April.

Memo Line

If you’re an employee, there are lots of things you probably want to write on your checks. Withholding for taxes, social security and health insurance are almost always required in most jurisdictions. You might also want to put your account number or department name on your check stubs. However, be sure that you don’t put anything too personal on them – especially if they have nothing to do with your work. That could raise questions about impropriety and it could lead to having trouble cashing checks at banks and other businesses.


The most important thing when writing checks is to be sure you have everything on hand that is necessary to fill out a check. This way, your check will look professional and clean. To do so, you need all of your information written down or available so that it can be referenced at any time. Along with keeping all of your information handy, make sure that your bank routing number and account number are up-to-date as well so they’re easily accessible when needed. Don’t forget these two important steps when filling out checks for your business or company; doing so will make things easier for you in the long run!

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