What does a 20-dollar bill look like? The $20 bill is one of the most commonly used banknotes in the United States. If you’ve ever wondered what a $20 bill really looks like and what elements make up its design, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The current $20 bill features a portrait of Andrew Jackson on the front along with a vignette of the White House, and an image of the White House’s south facade on the back.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the $20 bill, including:

Portrait and Imagery on the Front of the $20 Bill

Andrew Jackson Portrait

The central image on the front of the $20 bill is a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States. Jackson’s stern and determined visage gazes directly out from the center of the note. The portrait is based on a painting done in 1824 by artist Thomas Sully.

Sully actually hated Jackson, so, ironically, his painting was chosen. Also, Jackson was strongly opposed to paper money, yet he still ended up on the $20 bill in 1928.


Like other modern U.S. currency denominations, the $20 banknote contains microprinting as an anti-counterfeiting measure. The microprinting is visible under magnification and says things like “USA TWENTY” and “The United States of America.”

Hard to replicate, the tiny microprinted words help demonstrate that a $20 is authentic.

Color-Shifting Numeral 20

When the $20 bill is tilted back and forth under light, the color-shifting ink on the numeral 20 in the lower right corner changes from copper to green. This easily verified color-morphing effect is extremely difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate and serves as another sign of authenticity for genuine Federal Reserve notes.

Back Design of the $20 Bill

White House’s South Facade

The back of the $20 bill depicts the south facade of the White House, which was built between 1792 and 1800 while Philadelphia was serving as the temporary capital of the United States. In 1808, Thomas Jefferson expanded the President’s residence by constructing two colonnades on the east and west sides.

The image on the bill shows the White House portico as it looked after the renovations during Jefferson’s administration. Around the White House, several buildings such as the Treasury Building can be seen.

U.S. Flag

Behind the White House on the $20 bill’s backside is a small reproduction of the American flag. The flag only has 11 stars and 11 stripes, denoting that Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792) had recently joined the union as the 14th and 15th states when the White House was being built.

The flag does not depict subsequent states that were added to the union. By many accounts, the national flag waved over Washington during the White House’s construction from 1792 to 1800.

Ordering Number and Series Date

On the lower left side of the bill’s back is an ordering number containing two alphabetic prefixes followed by 8 digits. This helps the Bureau of Engraving and Printing track and identify each sheet of 32 bills printed. Next to it is the series date in the format (2009A).

The first half indicates the year the bill’s design series began circulation, while the letter ‘A’ signifies it was produced in the first half of the year.

Bills with recent dates are preferred by vendors and traders, but there is no difference in value between older and newer series. Bills remain legal tender no matter the series date. Some collectors seek specific series dates to complete their collection.

Security Features of the $20 Bill

The modern $20 bill contains several special security features designed to prevent counterfeiting. These features make it much harder for criminals to produce fake bills that can fool businesses and consumers.

Color-Shifting Ink

The newest $20 bills use color-shifting ink for a number of design elements. If you tilt the bill back and forth, some parts of the bill will shift between green and black. This effect is very difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce.

The color-shifting “20” in the lower right corner is one example of this advanced anti-counterfeiting method.

Raised Printing

Much of the text and art on a real $20 bill has a slightly raised texture due to the intaglio printing process. You can feel these raised areas by gently running your finger over the bill. This subtle 3D effect would require specialized printing equipment to duplicate, making it an effective deterrent to counterfeiting.


Hold the bill up to a light source, and you’ll see a ghostlike image to the right of Andrew Jackson’s portrait. This light-activated watermark only shows up when illuminated, making it hard for the watermark to be scanned or copied. The watermark portrait matches the main portrait on the bill.

Security Thread

Embedded in the $20 bill is a thin blue and red plastic strip. “USA TWENTY” and a small flag are visible along the thread from both sides of the bill. The security thread is implanted into the unique cotton/linen paper blend used for U.S. currency.


Under magnification, an intricate pattern of tiny printed text becomes visible on the $20 bill. These microprinted words are invisible to the naked eye. Most computer scanning equipment is also unable to read or duplicate these tiny letters, making microprinting a key anti-counterfeiting hurdle.

Ultraviolet Reactive Features

Several design elements using color-changing inks will glow when exposed to ultraviolet light. On the $20 bill, the eagle’s head to the left of the portrait and the numeral 20 in the lower-right corner display this covert security feature.

A counterfeiter would need advanced chemistry knowledge and equipment to accurately reproduce these UV effects.

History of the $20 Bill Design

1928-Series $20 Bills

The $20 bill design introduced in 1928 was part of an effort by the U.S. government to make currency more difficult to counterfeit. These banknotes featured a portrait of President Andrew Jackson on the front along with a vignette of the White House on the back.

Some key features added at this time included:

  • Intricate fine-line engraving around Jackson’s portrait and the borders of the bill
  • A standardized font and numerals
  • Blue and red threads woven into the paper as anti-counterfeiting measures

Over 400 million of these $20 bills were printed and circulated until the next redesign in 1996, making them quite common even many decades later.

1996 New Currency Design

After over 60 years with the same $20 design, a major currency overhaul was undertaken in 1996 to introduce new security features and aesthetics. Most notably:

  • The inclusion of a watermark featuring Jackson’s face visible when held up to the light
  • Color-shifting ink that looks green straight on but black at an angle on the numeral 20
  • Fine-line printing, micro printing, and very small “USA20” lettering – all hard to reproduce even with modern technology

These state-of-the-art security features aimed to address the counterfeiting crisis of the late 80s and early 90s. Over 2 billion of the new-look $20 bills entered circulation from 1998-2003.

2003 & 2006 Redesigned $20 Bills

Additional changes came in 2003 and 2006 with two more revisions to the $20 banknote:

  • Colorful background hues of green, peach, and blue
  • Tilt the bill back and forth to see the numeral 20 shift color from copper to green
  • A new, larger off-center portrait of Jackson
  • Subtle shades of color within the foreground lines and images

These stylistic updates brought the $20 note more in line with the redesigned $50 and $100 bills. They also added more complex graphics to stay ahead of advancing scanner and printer capabilities.

Year Key Security Features Added
2003 Color-shifting 20 numeral
2006 Elaborate background colors

Latest 2020 $20 Bill Design

The $20 note underwent its latest redesign in 2020, which focused more on honoring the women’s suffrage movement and less on security updates:

  • A portrait of suffrage leader Alice Paul is featured along with the White House lawn to commemorate the movement’s efforts to earn women the right to vote
  • Bright shades of purple are prominent in the background and borders as a nod to the ribbons the suffragettes proudly wore
  • An American flag in green is printed on the back of the bill, which dynamically shifts to gold when tilted

This meaningful update is a celebration of democracy and honors those who fought for equal voting rights. So the next time you handle a $20 banknote, appreciate the iconic freedom fighters and history depicted on it!

For more details, check the U.S. Currency Education Program’s fascinating page on the $20 bill.

What Does A 20-Dollar Bill Look Like – Conclusion

We’ve covered everything you need to know about the current $20 bill as well as how its design has evolved over the years. With its sophisticated security features and iconic portrait of Andrew Jackson, the $20 banknote has become an integral part of American currency.

Understanding what a $20 bill should look and feel like will help you easily identify counterfeits. If you have any old $20 bills lying around, inspecting them under this new knowledge may reveal some intriguing history!

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