A bank check differs from a personal check in that it is guaranteed by the issuing bank. The actual look of the check is not very different, except that the bank signs the front of the check instead of the person using it. The essential elements are all the same and located in the same position on the check face.
The issuing bank has its information in the upper left corner of the check. This is where your name and address would normally be. Since the check is drawn from the bank's funds rather than your account, their information replaces yours.
The check number and date are normally located in the upper right corner of the check. The check number will typically be a longer number than that of a personal check, since banks issue thousands of checks. The date should indicate when it was issued.
The payee and check amount are located in the center of the check. The payee should be pre-printed by the bank. Before purchasing a bank check, ensure you have the correct payee information. It is difficult to change this at a later time. The check amount is written out in words across the middle, with the number value on the right-hand side of the check. The dollar value of the two should match.
In the bottom left corner of the check, there will be either additional bank information or a note that the bank adds for you. Some banks choose to put their address and phone number here, and a logo in the upper left corner. Others will let you give a note to add on the check, such as "Apartment down payment."
The signature block is in the bottom right corner. Do not sign here for a bank check. The issuing bank will sign this area before giving it to you. If it is not signed, it cannot be cashed or deposited. There will still be an area on the back of the check for the payee to sign.
A bank check is often referred to by other names. If you hear "cashier's check" or "certified check," they are typically used interchangeably with "bank check."
Just because it is a bank check does not mean it cannot be counterfeited. Use your best judgment to determine that the check is legitimate.