Difference Between Single vs Duplicate Checks

Difference Between Single vs Duplicate Checks

Opening a checking account is going to give you access to an incredibly wide variety of checks. Whether you are looking for a specific design, color, or font, these are all features that you can select. One of the biggest decisions is whether or not you choose to use single or duplicate checks. The difference between single and duplicate checks is ultimately small, but it is big enough to lead to widespread confusion for many.

They will both allow you to transfer money from a checking account into someone else’s bank account, but the way in which each check type functions is slightly different. Today, we are going to give you a full breakdown of the features that set the two apart so that you can walk away feeling completely confident about how to use them as part of your everyday monetary transactions.

Definition of Single Checks

The easiest place to start is definitely by taking a look at this item’s definition: “A single check is a document that orders a bank to pay a specific amount of money.” But here is where the confusion starts. There is no functional difference between duplicate and single checks because they ultimately serve the exact same purpose. They are both intended to order a bank to pay money to someone. So what sets the two apart, you might be wondering?

When you issue a single check, only one version of the check exists. Even though this will still achieve a successful money transfer, it is not always the safest way to use a check because there is no proof that the check was ever issued in the first place.

This is precisely why the duplicate variant was created. It offers greater peace of mind and proof of a transaction. This is not all there is to the comparison though because the single variety does offer other benefits, at least in terms of cost and value.

You will get a larger quantity of single checks in a box for less money vs the duplicate versions. This may be of benefit to small businesses, for example, that use numerous checks. But on the whole, many would likely prefer the security of a two-copy system.

Definition of Duplicate Checks

First, we will look at the exact definition of a duplicate check: “A duplicate check features a normal check combined with a carbon paper sheet of the same size.” So, for those who have been asking the question, “What is the difference between single and duplicate checks?” You now have a very clear separation between the two at least in terms of definition. It is in the different usage of these check varieties that we see a major difference between the two though.

It is completely down to personal preference in regard to which one you might use, but there are several reasons why the duplicate version might just come out on top in the single vs duplicate checks battle. In general, regardless of the size of a transaction, issuing a single check means that only one piece of paper exists for proof of the transaction. This means that if a check bounces, there will be little evidence to prove that any money was promised in the first place.

Duplicate varieties, however, provide solid proof that two individuals did indeed commit to a monetary transaction including through a date and signature. This can be incredibly useful should there be any dispute over the purchase of goods. An item may be faulty, for example.

Although it may sound complicated by the description, the primary difference is that when you write on a duplicate check, it creates another version of your writing underneath on a blank piece of paper. The single variety does not do this.

Main Differences Between Single vs Duplicate Checks

Since we have given you an explanation of what the difference between single and duplicate checks is, we are now going to provide you with a quick reference table to make your life a little easier. If you ever find yourself getting confused over the two again in the future, please come back here to review the information below.

Basis of Comparison Single CheckDuplicate Check
CopiesOne piece of paperTwo pieces of paper with the same information (one for the receiver and one for the check writer)
CostTypically cost less Typically cost more
Why are they used?Convenience and more likely to be used for smaller personal transactions Security and more likely to be used for larger and more expensive transactions because they are useful for record keeping
Proof No proof of transaction when using single checksProof of transaction when using duplicate checks
SizeSmaller books that are less bulkyLarger and bulkier books
Carbon paperNo carbon paper, which means only a single copy of the check is producedCarbon paper, which means two copies of the check are produced
How are they written?Can be written as normal with a typical amount of hand pressureRequires more pressure to be applied when writing to firmly imprint a copy

Rather than reading through the entire article in the future, it may be easier for you to review this table as a one-stop piece of information instead if you need to revisit the subject.


What at first may have seemed like a confusing comparison now hopefully makes a great deal more sense to you. To sum it up in one sentence, single checks provide one copy, whereas duplicates provide two copies. Whichever check variety you decide to use going forward, we hope all of your future transactions are positive and safe ones.