How to Endorse a Check

check book register with pen and transactions


Most of those reading this probably know how to sign a check, but there are some specific details about proper check writing that you may not have known. If someone gives you a check, you must endorse it with your signature before you can cash it. Through your endorsement, you give the bank the legal right to process the check. You can simply sign the check with your name only, add restrictions for how the bank should process the check, or sign the check over to someone else. However, there are some details about this process some tend to overlook. Here are a few tips on proper check writing:

Verify that the information on the check is accurate. Before endorsing the check, make sure that it is one that your bank will accept, and that all the information on the front is correct. If the person who gave you the check spelled your name wrong or made errors, you may want to give it back to them, and have them write out a different check. A valid check has a line at the bottom with the routing number and account number. If this line is not present, then the bank will not be able to process the check.

Determine who must endorse the check. If only your name is listed on the payee line, then only your signature is needed to cash the check. However, if someone else’s name is also listed along with yours, then the other person would also need to sign the check if the word “and” or the symbol “&” appears between the two names.

Should a check have two or more names listed, if the check says “or” between the names, then either of the persons listed would be granted the designation of having the check cashed.

If a check is written to you “in care of” someone else, only your signature is needed. They generally cannot cash without your signature, but if you have a joint bank account, they may be able to deposit the check in that account on your behalf without your signature.

On the reverse side of the check, you should see three to five gray lines. These are typically on the upper short side of the check. You should also see a solid line with instructions on not writing below. Sign your name on the top gray line.

Cash or deposit the check immediately. If the check is written out to “cash” then anyone who signs it can cash it. The bank or merchant is not obligated to cash a check made payable to cash and may question. This is not the complete list of acceptable restrictive endorsements, but just a few common examples.

For more details on check cashing, visit