The Correct Way to Spell Out Dollar Amounts

You have to write out dollar amounts on checks.

You have to write out dollar amounts on checks.

You might wonder why anyone would bother to write out dollar amounts when it’s a lot easier to just write the numerals. There are a couple of reasons. You are less likely to make a mistake when you write out the words. Also, it’s a lot harder for someone to alter the amount when you spell it out. That is especially important when you write a check.

Writing Checks

When you make out a check, write the amount twice. On the right side of the check, write the amount using numerals in the box provided. In the center of the check, spell out the dollar amount. Write the whole dollar amount just as you do on other documents, but leave off the word “dollars.” Write the cents as digits and then draw a line under the cents figure. Write “100” below this line. Follow the cents figure with a dashed line extending to the right side of the check where the word “dollars” is printed. For example, write $37.45 as: “Thirty-seven and 45/100,” followed by a dashed line. The dashed line is a fail-safe against someone filling in a different amount.

Checks for Pennies

On a rare occasion, you might have to write a check for less than $1. To make sure your intent is clear, write the word “only,” followed by the amount written in words, plus the word “cents.” Thus, you would write 42 cents as: “Only forty-two cents.” Draw a dashed line all the way to the right of the check and through the word “dollars.”

Spelling It Out

Sometimes people need to write letters of inquiry regarding financial transactions. For example, you might write a letter to a creditor disputing a bill. You should spell out the dollar amounts to ensure accuracy. Don’t mix numerals and words. Hyphenate compound numbers less than 100. Use commas between the words in the same places you would put commas when writing the numerals. Use commas only with dollar amounts with at least five digits. Write the word “dollars” at the end. For example, write $15,237 as “fifteen thousand, two hundred thirty-seven dollars." When you write an amount that includes a cents figure, write the word “and” after the word “dollars.” Then write the amount in cents, followed by the word “cents.” For example, write $32.45 as “thirty-two dollars and forty-five cents."

Ledger Entries

When you record a transaction in a household journal or checkbook transaction ledger, write the date and a brief description of the transaction in the spaces provided. However, do not spell out dollar amounts. Instead, write each dollar amount in the appropriate column: credit, debit or balance. Omit the dollar sign. Always place a decimal point after the whole dollar amount and write a cents figure. If the amount is an even dollar figure, write two zeros for the cents. For example, you would write $15,237 as 15,237.00.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.

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