How to Create an Invoice Format – 10 Tips for Beginners
Maria Peloponisiou~ 5 min Reading time | 15. Feb 2019
Invoicing is about more than just getting paid – an invoice is a document that serves as a record for both you and your client, a part of your professional image, and a way of showing your client the breakdown of what you are billing for. When you are just starting out, it may not seem like a big deal, but having a consistent invoice format with all the necessary information in the right place can save you a lot of hassle down the road. Here are 10 basic tips for getting your invoice format right:
1) Make sure your contact information is prominent
Even if your client knows who you are, their accounting department may not, and they will be the first ones who will need to reach you if there are questions about payment. Include all the ways you can be reached, such as an address, phone number, and email address.
2) Include a clear breakdown of services and taxes
Before you write an invoice, it is a good idea to know what your client will want to see. This one may be simpler if you are selling a retail product, but if you are providing a service or working with consultants, your client may want a short description of each invoice item. Itemizing taxes is also essential, since both you and your client will need to know what taxes were charged when tax season rolls around.
3) Include payment terms
It is important to decide beforehand what your payment terms will be, so that when it is time to do collections, you will be able to set a date by which you expect to be paid. Net 30 days is the most common, however the terms are often dependent on the nature of your business and the client relationship. For example, if cash flow is an issue, you may want to consider shortening your payment terms.
4) Have consistent invoice numbers
This one may seem like a small detail, but can become important once you have accumulated a number of invoices. If invoices serve as a record of past income, invoice numbers are the shorthand that will help you access those records. Consider assigning client numbers to each client and project numbers to each project and including these in your invoice numbers, so you will be able to tell what the invoice was for just by its number alone. This small detail can save you lots of time later if you need to search for specific records.
5) Make your brand evident on the invoice
An invoice is not just a utilitarian record; ideally, it should also be a branded document. You will come across as much more professional if you have a consistent design standard for communications materials, including invoice formats. Make sure your logo is prominent and consider incorporating the fonts and colours of your brand elsewhere in the invoice as well.
6) Automate your invoice
Using software like Billomat can go a long way towards helping you streamline the invoicing process. Once you have an automated invoice template, you will be able to ensure that your clients will get consistent invoices with information in the same place each time. This is becoming increasingly important in today’s digitized world, since some larger clients may be using software that reads invoices automatically. Having consistent invoices in this scenario may mean you will get paid faster.
7) Include client reference numbers
If you are a subconsultant or a retailer selling to a larger company, your client may have their own project number or purchase order number. If you have an ongoing contract with a larger client, make sure to find out if there is a reference number they would like shown on their invoice. This can help their accounting department categorize your invoice more quickly and make sure it gets paid on time.
8) Include relevant dates
The date on an invoice is important for collections, but also for your own records. If you need to put together an estimate later, it will be helpful to be able to go back through and quickly know what you charged for a particular product or service on which date. If you are billing an hourly service, consider also including the date the work was performed. That way, if for any reason you have to send an invoice earlier or later than usual, you will know what time you are charging for.
9) Make the total amount owed stand out
If there are a lot of subtotals and taxes and accumulated project totals on your invoices, make sure the total amount the client needs to pay on this invoice stands out from the other subtotals. Make it bold, or make sure the word “total” is clear next to it. If your total does not stand out, you run the risk of being paid the wrong amount, which is a headache to sort out later.
10) Make it clear what types of payment you accept
This one can save you time answering client questions about how they can pay. Since it is a common inquiry, it is a good idea to have this information somewhere on your invoice so they know what their options are. The more ways someone can pay you, the better, but realistically your options for accepting payment may be limited. With Billomat, you can send clients a payment link that allows them to pay with credit cards, paypal, debit and other online transactions.
These 10 basic strategies will ensure that you have the basics covered when it comes to your invoice format. Many people do not realize how much a quick payment depends on a clear invoice, but in a lot of cases it does! Having clear, consistent standards for invoicing benefits both you and your client – and if it is easy to pay you, it makes you that much easier to work with, and makes for less work on your end too!