As part of our steps to create a professional invoice guide, you read about all of the necessary components for an invoice. But what about the layout and formatting? Your clients, especially those experienced in the business world, will expect your invoice to have a certain format. Let’s take a look at that format.

Invoicing is a necessary part of running a successful business, even though it’s not the most exciting part of it. However, most clients won’t pay up until you send an invoice and you can’t run a business without making any money, right? The interesting thing about an invoice is that it can come in all different forms, whether formal or informal, and whatever style of invoice you choose should be in line with your business goals.

Feel free to choose how you want your invoice to look, but there are some best practices to keep in mind no matter what.

One of the most important things to include in an invoice is contact information for both parties. This means the name of the person handling your client’s account. In small businesses, it may be the person you deal with directly, but the larger the company, the more likely it is that they have a separate department for handling financial business. This is why the invoice needs to be clear and detailed – because someone who has no idea what the invoice is in regard to is the one that is going to fulfill it.

Next up is the itemized list of services completed or goods purchased. This is another area where you do not want to be vague. Consider the fact that it’s likely someone in accounting will be handling this invoice, so they need to know what they are paying for. It’s also likely that the invoice will be filed away, and a year from now, or even five years from now, you want the client to be able to know exactly what they paid for. So, if you completed a website design project for a client, don’t just put “design” as the line item. Instead, put “Redesign of homepage and product pages for WEBSITE NAME” and be sure to put the dollar amount, an/or the amount of hours it took to complete the project.

Along with the total amount due, there needs to be clear information about when you expect the client to pay you. Include a payment due date, which is anywhere from 21 days to 45 days out from when the invoice was sent.

Speaking of money, you’ll want to tell the client how they can pay you, whether it’s a check in the mail, a money transfer, credit card payment, or a Paypal transaction? No matter how you expect to be paid, be sure this information is clear for the client, and that they have all of the necessary information in order to complete the payment, such as the proper address, or a PayPal username.

Next, you’ll want to be sure you’ve included the unique invoice number on every invoice you send. Before sending invoices, you should create a numbering system to keep track of all of the invoices coming out of your office. The numbering system could be based on the day the invoice is created. For example, an invoice created on August 19, 2016 could be invoice #08192016. Or, you could create numbers that are specific to your clients. Whatever numbering method you choose, keep it consistent so your books stay correct.

So, choose the style of invoice you want – use a header that reflects the style and image of your business, use fonts that are professional and easy to read, and put your company logo on it. As long as you have the essential information in your invoice, you should be well on your way to getting paid.