Freelancers shouldn’t need to spend too much time creating and sending invoices. After all, the hard work is done now — and getting paid should be the easy bit!
That’s why it’s a smart idea to design an invoice template; a bare-bones document you can roll out every time you need to request a payment. No more worrying if you’ve mistyped your bank details, or forgotten to add in all-important payment terms. Simply flesh your template out with client and project specifics, and you are good to go!
The hard work is done now — and getting paid should be the easy bit!
If you’re in the process of drafting up your very first invoice template — or looking to give your current document a makeover — this article covers the 13 must-have elements you need to create a perfect invoice.
1. Professional header
First impressions count, and when a new client receives their first invoice from you, they will almost certainly judge you on how professional it looks.
Each time you send any paperwork out, it’s an opportunity to reinforce your brand!
Your invoice template should include a clear header with your company name and logo (if you have one). Each time you send any paperwork out, it’s an opportunity to reinforce your brand — and an invoice is no exception. Make your invoice stand out with a hi-res logo and your business color scheme.
2. Invoice number and date
Every invoice you send out should have an invoice number and date to help you track what has been paid and what hasn’t. This is important at your end, to plan your cash flow. But it’s important for the client, too — they need to know when you sent your invoice to be able to meet your payment terms (more on this later!).
Top tip: using an online invoice template will really speed up this workflow. Instead of manually populating the date and invoice number yourself, e-invoice software can automatically add this data in, ensuring total clarity for both you and your customer.
3. Client’s name and address
This should sit with the invoice number towards the top of your invoice template to let customers know they have the correct invoice in front of them.
If this information is missing, it could raise questions about whether they have received the right invoice. You don’t want to give customers any reason to question your invoice and delay payment.
4. Your name and contact details
Your customers also want to be sure they’re paying the right invoice, to the right person. And including your personal name and contact details will help avoid any confusion. Of course, if your business name and logo is based on your first or last name, this becomes a little less necessary — but it’s still good practice, just in case.
Which contact details you choose to share is up to you (you may not want clients having your personal cell number, for example), but you should offer your email address at the very least. That way, customers can drop you a quick message if they need to confirm anything about the invoice.
5. Details of your business
You should absolutely include your business name, address, and company number in your invoice template. This is especially important for B2B products and services because the accounts department are more likely to recognize your business name than your birth name.
When in doubt, add as much information as you have
Many organizations also need business details to be able to authorize payments to freelancers and other suppliers. When in doubt, add as much information as you have — gaps in your business details may cause delays client-side.
6. Purchase order number
Another vital component for B2B invoice templates is a Purchase Order (PO) reference, which the client will provide upon commissioning your work. If, for some reason, you’ve gotten all the way through to delivery without having received a PO, it’s worth a quick email to confirm.
If you should have had a PO number but send your invoice through without one, then there’s a good chance the invoice will get rejected by the client’s accounts team. Not only is that frustrating for all parties involved, but you’ll have to waste time sending another one through.
7. Title or name of the project
Using general terms to describe a project is going to cause confusion or, worse, suspicion.
Avoid vague phrases like ‘services rendered’ or ‘work completed’. Instead be specific and put ‘Window cleaning on 17 April’ or ‘Web design for XYZ Biz Inc,’ This helps you double-check that you’ve charged for everything you’ve delivered, but also helps the customer sign payments off quickly and easily.
8. Details about the work you completed
This leads on from the point above: sometimes it’s not enough to leave a project name, especially if you’re invoicing in stages.
Breaking down or itemizing your total invoice amounts makes it less likely that your customer needs to question anything.
Take the web design example, for instance. Here you may want to invoice 25% at a time, as the project will take a few months to complete. Or you may need to claim payment per deliverable. If so: just ask!
Breaking down or itemizing your total invoice amounts makes it less likely that your customer needs to question anything. They’ll know precisely what they are being charged for, resulting in a speedy payment for you!
9. Amount due
You want to make sure you get paid the full amount for the work you’ve done, right? So be crystal clear with your customer what you’re charging them for (see above) and how much you need to receive.
If you’re itemizing your invoice, then you should have subtotals for each line item and a grand total amount at the bottom of the invoice.
There should be no surprises for your customer here as you will have quoted them before doing the work, but it’s still never a good idea to be vague when it comes to asking for payment.
10. Tax information
Be clear about whether you are charging sales tax or not. If you have the necessary permit to charge sales tax to a particular customer, but fail to state it on the invoice, then it could come back to bite you during tax return season.
If you are charging sales tax then state the amount you’re charging without tax, then the tax amount, and an invoice total — this is the clearest way to break it down.
11. Payment terms
Without this, your customer is welcome to choose when to pay you — not ideal for cash flow purposes! ‘Due on receipt’ is good, but ‘Payment due on July 17’, is even better.
Some businesses will try to impose their own payment terms, and — if you’re happy to agree — then that’s fine. Just remember to tweak your invoice template before you send it to them.
12. Payment details
If you only accept one method of payment, make sure this is very clearly stated on your invoice. Ideally, though, you want to be offering several ways for customers to settle up — each of which should be clearly shown and fully explained in your invoice template.
Another great reason to use e-invoice software: these templates enable you to accept payment via a link in the invoice itself, as well as tracking bank transfers and checks.
13. Thank you message
The perfect way to round off a perfect invoice! Remembering to thank customers for their business is not only good manners, it’s likely to win you repeat business in the future.
Remembering to thank customers for their business is not only good manners, it’s likely to win you repeat business in the future.
By adding this as a field on your invoice template you can send the same message to each client or personalize it slightly for everyone. Either way, people will appreciate the thought!
Use Perfect Invoice to create fool-proof invoice templates and get paid fast
Of course, the easiest way to guarantee you get this right every time is by using an online invoice software like Perfect Invoice.
With us, you know that every invoice you send out looks professional and contains all the information customers need to pay you right away. You can add as many lines as you need and we’ll make sure everything is formatted perfectly when you send it out. Deliver straight from the interface, attach to email or download and print as a PDF.