What Is a Paystub and What Does It Look Like?

what is a paystub

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Employers and independent contractors alike need a convenient way to create paystubs to meet various financial needs, such as proving income verification to rent an apartment, apply for a loan or to qualify for other types of financial products. Along with a credit score, a paystub might be the only way that someone can qualify for or help meet a document need, but most people don’t think twice about it unless they need one and there’s no paystub available.

What Is a Paystub?

A paystub is basically a detailed accounting of what you made in a given time period. Employers use them to provide documentation of earnings, deductions and take-home pay, while employees and freelancers can use a copy of the paystub to qualify for housing or to confirm that they were paid everything that was owed. 

Some paystubs are printed out while others may be digital versions for easy emailing, but keep in mind that different states have different requirements when it comes to what a paystub looks like or what it has to include. Some states may even mandate paystubs for all employees and workers, so it’s best to consult your state guidelines if you’re unsure whether your employer should be providing you with a paystub each time you’re paid.

What's In a Paystub?

Most paystubs are fairly generic and include much of the same information. That makes analyzing a paystub a relatively straightforward ordeal, though there may be some differences in layout and design. 

In general, a paystub will include three main pieces of information, including your gross wages (hours worked, pay rate and total pay); taxes (employee and employer taxes, benefits and deductions); and net pay, which is essentially what’s left after taking your gross pay and subtracting the deductions.

Comparing the different pieces to one another, anyone should be able to easily see what you make, how much you pay in taxes and what you end up taking home at the end of the day, as well as your yearly income. Other information such as your tax status, contact information for your employer and possibly a supervisor or manager may also be present, but there are no real rules as long as the basic information is displayed accurately.

What Does a Paystub Look Like?

Beyond typical formatting considerations, a paystub usually includes an employee name and address, pay period and date, the hours worked along with any applicable rate, gross pay, deductions, taxes, employer contributions, direct deposit information and your net pay. Some paystubs may be laid out much differently than others, but the information within is essentially mostly the same.

Decoding Paystub Abbreviations

While most information in a paystub is fairly easy to evaluate and understand, some paystub abbreviations may be giving you trouble. If you’re curious, here’s what some of the more common paystub abbreviations mean.


SSN: Social Security Number

YTD: Year-To Date

FICA – Medicare: Mandatory Federal Withholdings

FICA – Social Security: Mandatory Federal Withholdings

FWT: Federal Withholding Tax

SWT: State Withholding Tax

FL: Family Leave

INS/MED: Insurance or Medical Deductions

401k/Ret: Retirement Contribution

How To Create Your Own Paystub

If you’re wondering how to get a paystub, you might be surprised to learn that you can create your own. Rather than trying to get your employer or a client to create one for you, it’s possible to do it yourself using our convenient paystub creator. Paystubs are free to create and only cost $8.99 to download and print. Get started today!

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How Do You Get Started?

Our‌ ‌pay‌ ‌stub‌ ‌generator‌ ‌is‌ ‌easy‌ ‌to‌ ‌use:‌ ‌

1. Select‌ ‌from one of our four templates.
2. Fill‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌blanks‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌information‌ ‌required.
3. Preview‌ ‌your‌ ‌pay‌ ‌stub,‌ ‌pay,‌ ‌and‌ ‌print.‌