As part of our guide to learning the steps to create a professional invoice, the most important step is indeed to learn how to write an invoice and improve your chances of getting paid faster. If you own a business or work for yourself as an independent contractor, the chances are very likely that you’re going to have to write several invoices for the work you’ve completed if you expect to get paid. So, how do you write an invoice? Let’s take a look.
In general, most invoices are going to include the same information, or at least, very similar types of information. According to the Small Business Chronicle, the type of work you do will dictate many of the details of your invoices.
Start with the header, or the top of the invoice document. Put your company name in large, professional font at the top. If you don’t have a company name, don’t worry, simply put your name at the top of the page. If you have any other professional documents you use, such as a cover letter or even a website, your header should look similar to these.
Your company contact information
Below the header, add in your contact information. This information should be business-related and not personal. So, put the address to your office, and include your business phone number and a fax number, if necessary. Be sure to include your email address and any additional contact information a client might need to complete the payment.
Next, you should put the contact information for the person you are billing. Again, use their business information. If you don’t have all of the contact information you need, you may have to make a phone call to complete it. If you are completing the entire invoice process via email, then you can also simply put the client’s professional email address.
Invoice Reference and Date
Then, you will include some numbers. Some businesses assign account numbers for each of their clients. If this is something you do, place the client’s account number below their contact information. You should also include the invoice number. This will be a number based on a numerical system you create, whether it’s based on the date or simply 101, 102, etc. The invoice number will help you keep up with who owes what.
Next, include the date the invoice was created. If you keep a billing cycle, you should list the dates of the billing cycle for which this invoice reflects.
List of services
In the body of the invoice, you will list all of the services completed that are accounted on the invoice. Make a new line for each description of service, and that line should include the date the service was completed, a detailed description of the service, the number of hours it took to complete (if you charge by the hour), and the dollar amount charged for the line item.
Put a subtotal at the bottom of your itemized list, and then add any additional fees, such as charges for products or taxes. If you do charge taxes, make sure it is the correct amount and rate according to state laws. If the client has any prior credits to put toward this total, add those in as well. Finally, put the total dollar amount owed at the bottom.
Below the total amount, put the payment options. If you’re accepting credit cards, checks, electronic payments, money orders, etc., you need to make sure the client knows the ways he/she can complete the payment. You also need to include a payment due date, which is usually anywhere from 21 days to 45 days out from the invoice date. If you are providing options for a payment plan, include any relevant information on it. If you charge a late fee, include the late fee and how it will be assessed.
Finally, send the invoice, via snail mail, email, or fax. Once you send the invoice, you’ll want to make sure you have a method in place for keeping track of your records. You need to know when payments become past due, and how you plan on contacting your client and/or taking action.