What does a hundred-dollar bill look like? The $100 bill is the highest-value banknote currently in circulation in the United States. If you’re wondering what a $100 bill looks like, this article will provide a detailed breakdown of the bill’s visual appearance and security features.

We’ll cover the bill’s color, dimensions, portraits, imagery and more so you know exactly what to look for to spot a legitimate $100 banknote.

Color and Dimensions

Dominant Color

The most prominent color on the one-hundred-dollar bill is green. Specifically, it uses a color called green treasury or federal green. This distinct green hue was first introduced in 1929 when the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing started producing smaller-sized currency.

Since then, all denominations of U.S. paper currency have featured the same green treasury color.

The use of green is fitting for U.S. money, representing growth, renewal, and vitality. It also makes it easily recognizable as American currency instead of monies from other nations which use different color schemes. The green color is achieved through the blending of blue and yellow inks.


The one hundred dollar bill has dimensions of 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long. This makes it the same size as all other current U.S. banknotes which share uniform sizing to assist machine readability. The paper the bill is printed on is 0.0043 inches thick composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton.

These dimensions make the one hundred easily distinguishable from other common currencies. For example, the one hundred is less than half the size of the largest banknote – the Swiss 1000 franc bill. So if you had a stack of money, you’d easily be able to pick out the U.S. hundred thanks to its green color and size.

Portraits and Images

Front Portrait and Imagery

The front of the $100 bill features an artistically stylized portrait of statesman Benjamin Franklin. This distinguished founding father gazes thoughtfully with a gentle half-smile, his long hair tied back and glasses perched upon his nose.

Intricate swirls and floral motifs surround the central oval frame holding Franklin’s likeness. To the left of his portrait lies a quill pen and inkwell, nodding to Franklin’s prolific writings, while the Declaration of Independence looms on the right, acknowledging his instrumental role in crafting that seminal document.

The most prominent visual feature is the huge blue 100 numerals in the bottom right corner, rendered in a mixture of fonts for a striking patched-together effect. Faint images of an inkwell and quill pen are nestled within the zeroes, echoing Franklin’s writerly proclivities.

Just above floats a barely discernible Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence with strong Philadelphia ties fitting for favorite son Franklin. E PLURIBUS UNUM banners across the top, affirming the one united nation formed from many states thanks to the exertions of visionary Founders like Mr. Franklin.

Back Portrait and Imagery

The reverse side of the $100 note depicts an imposing view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed. The building’s iconic tower and arched windows are front and center.

The hall is flanked by two American flags waving gently amidst delicate engraved floral designs. A ring of 13 five-pointed stars encircles Independence Hall, representing the original American colonies.

More intricate ornamental scrollwork and floral motifs frame two classically styled captions toward the bottom reading “The United States of America” and “One Hundred USA” in a stately serif font. Between them runs ornate lathe work seemingly fashioned from ribbons.

A barely visible numeral 100 is worked into the latticework overlaid by faint drawings of a quill pen and inkwell, once again nodding to Franklin’s legacy as both writer and signer. The entire backside image conveys history, patriotism, and unity with artistic flair.

Security Features

The $100 bill has several special security features designed to prevent counterfeiting. These include:

Security Thread

There is a security thread embedded in the paper that runs vertically on the left side of the face of the bill. The thread is imprinted with the text “USA 100” and a small flag in an alternating pattern visible when held up to the light. This thread was introduced in 1996 to deter counterfeiting.

Color-Shifting Ink

The number in the lower right corner on the face of the bill and the bell inside the inkwell on the reverse side are printed with color-shifting ink. The number and bell switch between copper and green when the bill is tilted.

This is a unique feature that is very difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.


There is a watermark imprinted on the right side of the bill that is visible when held up to the light. The watermark depicts Benjamin Franklin’s face and the value “100”. Watermarks make it harder for counterfeiters to replicate the look of valid currency.

Security Strips

The $100 bill has plastic security strips embedded in the paper that are visible when held up to the light. One strip is located to the left of the portrait while the other is located on the reverse side. When held up to ultraviolet light, these strips glow yellow.


Extremely small text is printed around the portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the face of the bill and on parts of the reverse side. This “microprinting” cannot be reproduced well by most copiers or scanners and helps confirm authenticity.

Raised Printing

Certain elements of the bill like the Treasury Seal and numerals on the corners have a raised texture due to intaglio printing. This process gives the bill a distinctive texture and makes counterfeits easier to spot.

With all these special features incorporated into the design, successfully replicating a real $100 bill requires very specialized equipment and knowledge. These security measures make passing counterfeit bills much more difficult.

What Does A Hundred-Dollar Bill Look Like? – Conclusion

With details on its distinct color, size, portraits, and more, you now know the defining characteristics of a $100 bill. Being familiar with security features like the security thread and watermark will also help you validate legitimate banknotes.

If you have any other questions on U.S. currency, many helpful government resources cover everything from design histories to anti-counterfeiting details. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Secret Service websites provide extensive educational materials on all Federal Reserve notes.

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