How to Write Out Dollars & Cents in Legal Documents

by Diane Perez; Updated September 26, 2017
Legal documents

Legal documents need to be so precise that there is no margin for misinterpretation. Those that involve the transfer of money, such as the sale of stock or real estate, must have the dollar amounts listed in such a way that no challenge can be made to void the contract. The legal profession has standardized the way to write out dollars and cents in legal documents, and some states also have passed laws dictating how it should be done.

Write amounts of less than one dollar with the ordinal number and the spelled number plus the word "cents." For example, a legal document would specify the amount of 39 cents as 39 cents (thirty-nine cents). The symbol for cents is not used.

Write even dollar amounts as the dollar amount and no cents: $1.00 would be "one dollar and no cents."

Write amounts with dollars and cents as the ordinal number and the spelled number: $14.75 would be fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents. Hyphenate the seventy-five to avoid any confusion between 75 cents and 70, 5 cents--or 70 nickels.

Write large amounts of money --say $12,053.00--as twelve thousand, fifty-three dollars and no cents, according to the Michigan Bar. Note the use of commas in numbers of more than three figures.

About the Author

Diane Perez is a writer who contributes to various websites, specializing in gardening and business topics, and creates sales copy for private clients. Perez holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Miami.

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