Part of learning how to format an invoice is taking a look at a generic invoice to learn the industry standard for business invoicing.

Creating a generic invoice is fairly simple. If you own a small business or work as a freelancer, and foresee creating lots of invoices in your future, then you may want to consider getting a software that will help you create invoices, as well as help keep track of them. If you only occasionally have to create invoices, you can create one using Microsoft Word, and use it as a template for future invoices.

Logistical information

All invoices, no matter what the industry, should include all of the logistical information at the top of the document. You can use the header portion to list your business name, your own name, or even just the type of invoice it is, such as “Invoice”, “Pro Forma” or “Progress Invoice”. You simply want to make sure the client knows exactly what the document is and who it is coming from.

Contact information

The top of the document should also include your own contact information, such as your name, the street address of your business, the city, the state, and the zip code, along with your business email address and the phone number for your office. You should also include the contact information for your client, as it pertains to their accounting department, or whomever is handling the invoice. Include the street address, city, state, zip code, email address, and phone number.

Invoice reference

It is crucial that you include the information that makes each invoice unique: 1. The invoice number, and 2. The date the invoice is issued. The unique invoice number should follow a numbering system that you have already created, such as #001, 002, etc., or perhaps each client has their own set of numbers. If your client Dr. Brown has a number of 985, then his first invoice is #985001, etc. The invoice date is important, because it will determine when the payment is due.

List of services

Below all of that information is the detailed, itemized list of services that have been completed or products that have been purchased. Each product or service should have its own line, along with the date it was completed or purchased, the amount purchased, or the hours it took to complete, along with the hourly rate, and the amount owed for each line item. The description should be very clear and detailed, just in case the invoice has to be examined at a later date, you don’t want any questions.


Under the table of list items should be a subtotal, and then any taxes, fees, credits, or discounts, all that add up to create a final amount owed. The final amount can be highlighted or bolded so it sets itself apart from all of the other numbers in the document.

Due date

Below that, you should clearly state when the payment is due. Refrain from using numerical dates, as those can easily be confused by the client. If you have a late fee policy, you will want to include this at the bottom or on the back of the invoice document. Finally, if you wish, you can include a line at the bottom of the invoice where you can sign and date the document. You can also include a comments box to add any extra information the client may need, or to simply to write a quick thank you note to the client.

Anything else added to an invoice is not necessarily required, and is up to you if you want to include it. Just make sure all of your invoices are consistent and tracked once they go out the door so you get paid correctly and on time.