Knowing how to craft professional yet easy-to-read invoices is important for any business, small or big. Firstly, well-written invoices ensure you get paid promptly and accurately every time you complete a job, and secondly, they help you keep better track of your financial records.
Whether you’re a freelancer or a small business owner, mastering the art of invoicing is key. In this guide, we break down the basics of invoices and provide step-by-step instructions to help you create invoices that reflect your professionalism and get you paid promptly.
Before you jump to our step-by-step guide to creating professional invoices, we recommend taking a moment (this will take 5 minutes, tops!) to read this part so you can grasp the fundamentals of invoicing. Why? Because the first step to creating professional invoices is understanding exactly what they are and what they are used for.
In simplest terms, an invoice is a detailed document or bill that outlines the products or services you provided, the agreed-upon price for said products or services, and the terms of payment. In essence, it’s a formal request for payment from your customer or client.
While simple documents, invoices are not just pieces of paper, real or digital, they’re important tools for running a successful business. They help you:
As you can see, there’s a good reason why everyone who is serious about their business and customer relationships should try their best to always send professional invoices. After all, they matter not just for obvious reasons – getting paid fast and accurately – but also for building better client relationships, record-keeping, and tax compliance.
With the basics out of the way, let’s move on to the practical side of creating professional invoices.
To make the process of creating invoices as easy as possible every time you complete a job, consider using free Excel invoice templates. They’re customisable and provide a structured format, making it easy to input your information and create polished invoices every time. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors, helping you maintain a professional invoicing system.
As in life, so in business, first impressions matter. And since the first thing your client sees when they open your invoice is the header, start with that. Make sure it’s large (it should use up to 15% of the page height) and it includes your business name, contact information, and logo if you have one.
Make sure your invoice includes your full name or your business name, address, phone number, and email address. This ensures that your client knows exactly who the invoice is from.
Next, provide your client's information. Include their name or business name, address, and any other relevant contact details. Double-check this information to avoid any delivery mishaps.
When listing the services you’ve provided, it’s best to be specific and clear. Depending on the service or product, you can include quantities, rates, and any additional charges to avoid misunderstandings and disputes later on.
Assign a unique invoice number to each transaction to help with organisation and tracking. This practice streamlines your bookkeeping process and allows for easy reference in case of any inquiries or discrepancies. Sequential numbering also adds a professional touch to your invoicing system.
To avoid any misunderstandings with your client, make sure you explicitly state your payment terms on the invoice. Specify the due date, acceptable payment methods, and any penalties for late payments. This sets expectations and encourages timely payments while building trust between you and your clients.
Sum up the costs and present the total amount due prominently. Then, to make the payment process as easy and fast as possible for your clients, include detailed instructions on how they can send payment, whether it's through bank transfer, credit card, or an online payment platform.
While maintaining professionalism is crucial, adding a personal touch can set you apart, so consider including a brief, friendly thank-you to your client. Here, you can also include any additional information, such as details on how they can contact you with any questions.
Before hitting the send button, take a moment to proofread your invoice for typos and errors, ensure all details are accurate, and confirm that you haven’t missed anything crucial.
Remember, a polished, error-free document demonstrates attention to detail and adds credibility to your business.