We use cookies to make your experience better. By using xero.com, you accept our cookie notice terms.

Brought to you by

New live preview for invoicing lets you see before you send

Posted 5 years ago in Product by
Posted by

Few documents are as important to a small business as their invoices. Not only does a quality invoice bring money in the door, it’s a sign of professionalism and reliability. Nothing hits the confidence of a potential client quite as much as the sight of a terrible invoice.

bad invoice
Invoice #853, via PennLive / NYT

In Xero, for legal reasons we don’t generate the official document until you approve an invoice. There’s never been any other way to see what your invoice would look like. Customers had to email test invoices to themselves to see changes to their branding! With the release of live preview for invoicing, happily, that will no longer be required.

live preview for invoicing

Simply click the Preview icon on an invoice in any state (including draft!) to see a live preview of the invoice you’ve entered so far. Any changes to branding or line items will immediately update this view. You’re also able to preview the mobile view alongside desktop. This is worth doing, as we’re now seeing around one in five online invoices viewed from a mobile device.

new invoice xero draft invoice xero

This view of the document is what your customers will see when they view your online invoice. It’s also very close to the PDF Xero generates from the branding profile (we’re working hard on those last few differences). In fact, we’ve made Preview easy to access while you’re working on your branding profile as well! See it under the options menu for each branding profile in Invoice Settings. Unfortunately, DOCX templates don’t play nice with HTML. If that’s how you’re generating your invoices then this feature won’t be as useful to you. We’re looking into other options for user-generated templates.

Another recent feature, ‘View online invoice’, aimed to make it easier to send out an invoice link. If you’ve set up a service like Stripe or Braintree, your customer can use this link to pay immediately! This was so handy we’ve now given it a permanent home in the Invoice Options menu, renamed as “Share Invoice”.

As you might know if you’ve been following Rod’s Xerocon keynotes, we’re hard at work on a swathe of invoicing improvements. Eagle-eyed viewers may spot some unfamiliar invoicing screens… For more detail on what we’re planning and what’s coming up, watch this space.


January 26, 2017 at 9.16 am

Looks great, but on the mobile preview option it distorts and squashes the logo, which for a branding agency doesnt look good. Suggest the logo appears above the word ‘Tax Invoice’.

Luke Gumbley in reply to Jeremy
January 27, 2017 at 7.14 am

Thanks Jeremy! We thought we’d fixed that bug, clearly not. The CSS wizards are looking into it now.

Patty Saari
January 26, 2017 at 9.50 am

I like the new preview feature but did you remove the View Online Invoice link that used to be in the same place as the Preview button? Or was it moved? That was an easy way for me to go directly to the invoice and enter in payment card details on a customer’s behalf.

Luke Gumbley in reply to Patty Saari
January 27, 2017 at 7.16 am

Hi Patty, thanks for the feedback – you can still get to the online invoice, it’s now under the ‘Invoice Options’ menu, see ‘Share Invoice’. We’ve been surprised by how many of you are making payments on behalf of customers, it’s started a lot of conversations internally!

Mark Farnham , Parkin & Payne Ltd. 096365080-
January 26, 2017 at 1.28 pm


Luke Gumbley in reply to Mark Farnham , Parkin & Payne Ltd. 096365080-
January 27, 2017 at 7.22 am

Hi Mark, you can still get to the online invoice – see Invoice Options / Share Invoice. On the subject of PDF, I’m amazed it can take 15 minutes to download! If you have time, a support ticket with a few more details of that issue would be great so we can see if we can speed that up. I’m afraid Preview wasn’t designed for printing, but we’re looking into our options for printing in general. It seems very commonly used so we’d like to make that easier.

liz woods
January 26, 2017 at 1.33 pm

About time……thanks.
Also we need to be able to send statements to a different address other than what was originally sent out to a store….for example the Foodstuffs Group request a statement with their details on and not the store product was sent to.

Thank you

Luke Gumbley in reply to liz woods
January 27, 2017 at 7.25 am

Hi Liz, good question. Happily, this work is in progress! See the feature request thread here. We can’t give an ETA yet, but as I write this I’m looking directly one of the people working on it. She looks busy.

January 27, 2017 at 12.11 am

This is nice, but there are a lot of improvements to make to invoicing that would make a difference day to day:

1/ The option for a customer to view their other outstanding invoices is really clever, but is hamstrung because they have to create an account with Xero. They don’t want to. This could be a brilliant feature for improving cashflow with a little less creation of data for Xero, and a little more flexibility in the presentation wording so it can be phrased in the best way from region to region and business to business.

2/ It would also be good to be able to see the VAT value on each line of the invoice, not just the rate.

3/ Please can we have a single button that sends a statement and copies of outstanding invoices to everyone with an overdue invoice, ideally with one PDF containing all documents attached to each email. A way to select all customers with an overdue invoice from the statements list would be good too.

4/ Please can we have £ not GBP.

Luke Gumbley in reply to Nigel
January 27, 2017 at 8.03 am

Nigel, thank you for the comprehensive reply! Let me go through point-by-point:

1/ We’re looking into our MyBills functionality at the moment. We’re very aware of this reluctance from non-Xero users, and the flow for creating the account is not great. Whatever happens, that will be fixed.

2/ It’s a reasonable request, but we had to draw a line somewhere with the internal templating functionality. Invoice settings is already hopelessly complicated (so many checkboxes!). While I don’t especially want you to (as it means Preview won’t work) you can use a DOCX template to achieve this. The field you’re after is called TaxOnLineAmount.

3/ I’m hoping we’ll solve this with what we’re doing to MyBills, as attaching multiple documents to an email can get problematic (Xero users can have thousands of outstanding or overdue invoices). It’s still a good suggestion and I can absolutely understand how it’d save you a lot of time (existing feature request is here). The idea of running statements only on overdue amounts is also an existing feature request, please add your votes!

4/ Matt made a pretty good reply on this one here, although again the existing workaround is to use DOCX. Again, internationalisation is a big topic at Xero at the moment and a more natural display of currency information will probably be part of that.

January 27, 2017 at 1.04 am

Yes, very good, but its a shame that you cannot show units of measurement in the quantity field eg. Yards. Metres

Luke Gumbley in reply to MARTYN FISHER
January 27, 2017 at 8.06 am

Hi Martyn, I see you’re already active in the community thread on this one! All I can say is that we’re working on some big changes to invoice to make these sorts of improvements easier for us to achieve. It’s been a long road but we’re nearly there.

Stephen Powley
January 27, 2017 at 5.04 am

Doesn’t work for me. All I see is the addresses at the top and a message with a message saying “Please see the attached PDF for complete details” and a greyed-out button “View PDF” button. Clicking on the button does nothing. Totally useless as far as I can tell!

Luke Gumbley in reply to Stephen Powley
January 27, 2017 at 8.10 am

Hey Stephen, the reason for this is that you’re using a DOCX branding profile. They’re fantastic for print and PDF but don’t convert so well to HTML. That means displaying your invoice in the browser the way you’ve formatted it can’t be done. We considered having a default web-friendly branding theme to substitute for online display. Unfortunately many of the branding options have legislative consequences, for example whether to display tax inclusive or exclusive amounts. As I say in the blog though, we want to solve this problem and are looking at DOCX alternatives that play nicer online. Until then, I’m sorry Preview isn’t useful for you.

Murray Gibbons
January 27, 2017 at 12.50 pm

All of my Invoices are now printing my Company Name as M & amp:J……….. Why

Luke Gumbley in reply to Murray Gibbons
January 27, 2017 at 2.53 pm

Sorry about that, Murray! A bit of overzealous security has lead to some characters in branding theme settings being encoded twice in the preview – ampersands, colons and apostrophes are the most common. This does not affect the online invoice or the PDF, just the preview. We’re working on a fix, it won’t take long.

Crystal Lewis
January 30, 2017 at 6.49 pm

Our display name is not coming up on the preview? Our display name is our brand, we need this on there. Only our trading name is showing up. How do we get our display name on the invoice?

Luke Gumbley in reply to Crystal Lewis
January 31, 2017 at 8.07 am

Hi Crystal, by default the trading name is what comes up in your contact information (see under ‘Display name and legal/trading name‘). However you can customise your branding settings to show alternate contact information if you prefer – see instructions here.

Sue Bell
January 31, 2017 at 6.28 pm


This is an improvement rather than sending to “print PDF” to view final invoice layout.

However it does not give a true image of how the invoice will look – ignores any formatting you might do in cells. For example, when entering information on different lines within a cell, it will display in preview as continuous.

Luke Gumbley in reply to Sue Bell
February 1, 2017 at 8.21 am

Thank you Sue, good spotting! That issue is now with the team along with a few others we didn’t pick up during testing. It should be a straightforward fix.

Luke Gumbley in reply to Lennard Funcke
February 2, 2017 at 11.33 am

Hey Lennard, unfortunately you’re using a DOCX branding profile. We can’t convert those to HTML to show in the browser at the moment – for more context check out my reply at the bottom of this feature request.

February 3, 2017 at 1.11 am

Hi Luke, Just tried to use this for a customer who couldn’t find my VAT number…

The preview is not the same as either the PDF or the online invoice. Differences include:

– totally different layout to the PDF
– invoice number, VAT number, reference, issued and due are in a different order to the online invoice
– The terminology is different: PDF ‘Invoice Date’ = Online Invoice & Preview “issued”. This is the tax date so is the PDF not better?
– Reference has become Reference number – which for me is an employees name at the customer, so dropping the ‘number’ is better.
– The main table formats differently with the word wrapping of the description happening in a different place.

Also, the online invoice does not print very nicely. Can something better be done with the Style sheet for printing please? I’m sure lots of my customers have messy printed invoices from me as they just do file / print from that online invoice page.

Rob Edkins
February 9, 2017 at 1.06 pm

Hi, the Invoice preview doesn’t seem to display at all in IE 11 browser, no matter what browser security settings I use.

It seems to work OK in Chrome, apart from the ampersand issue mentioned.

Matt Gross
February 14, 2017 at 8.05 am

Doesn’t seem to be available for repeating invoices.

Annie Zerafa
November 2, 2017 at 4.59 pm

Hi, Just wondering whether a solution has been reached for those of us using docx documents yet? Thanks so much!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *