Using the design features of good check writing software can be a fun way to personalize checks. The font style and color can be customized, personal or business logos can be added as well as background graphics or watermarks.

Check graphics included in a check design should not cover required check information (see list below). Also make sure that background graphics are not too dark; otherwise, written information may be hard to read and although the magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) line is printed with magnetic toner so the MICR numbers and symbols can be read through layers of other ink, some low quality toner brands may not print the MICR line with enough magnetic particles for MICR scanners to read with a dark background graphic.

Be selective with a check design; don t load on graphics just because they re available. A cluttered check is not attractive and some financial institutions may charge extra processing fees if the check information cannot be easily read.

Below is a list of required check information fields and an example of where the information is usually located on a check:

  • Check number:

    Sequential check number that usually appears in the top right corner.

  • Bank routing number (optional):

    The Federal Reserve assigns specific states to each Federal Reserve Bank. This number is usually at the top to the left of the check number. The Bank routing number is required in the MICR line.

  • Date of check

  • Amount of Check:

    Numbers with decimals.

  • Legal amount (optional):

    The amount spelled out in words. For example: $132.59 would be written: one hundred thirty two and 59/100. The legal amount entry was created to help decipher bad handwriting. Some financial institutions will accept checks without the legal amount entry provided that the check is pre written by a computer or typewriter and asterisks *** are placed before and after the amount to prevent altering.

  • Pay to the order of:

    The name of the person(s), company(s), institution(s), etc. who will receive the check; the payee.

  • Payor information:

    The name and address of the person, business, institution, etc. that is legally responsible to honor the check amount.

  • Payor s financial institution information:

    The name and address of the financial institution where the payor s checking account is located.

  • Signature line:

    Located at the bottom right. The payor s signature gives the payor s financial institution permission to withdraw or transfer the check amount from the payor s checking account.

  • MICR line:

    Special numbers and symbols printed across the bottom. It is required for all checks and must be printed with magnetic toner. The MICR line contains the check, routing and account number.


CEB  Promoting Financial Responsibility Through Community-Based Education . Retrieved July 25, 2006, from Sample Checks Web site:

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR). Retrieved July 24, 2006, from Title 12: Banks and Banking Web site: text&node=12:

Retrieved July 24, 2006, from Federal Reserve Web site:

UC Davis Cashier s Office. Retrieved July 23, 2006, from by UC Davis Accounting & Financial Services Web site:

Writing a Check. Retrieved July 23, 2006, from The Mint it makes cents Web site:

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