Format your invoices for easy reading
To make your invoice look professional and inviting to read:
- include your logo
- make sure the text is large enough to be readable on screen as well as in print (usually not under a 10 point font)
- use a table for the descriptions of goods or services and amounts so the content is clearly aligned in rows and columns
- add white space so your invoice doesn’t look cramped. Space out the sections of your invoice and make sure text and numbers aren’t squashed up hard against the lines of tables.
- create strong alignments. Align each section to the left or to the right – not centred. Make sure that decimal points align and the number of decimal places for quantities or amounts is consistent.
Number your invoices so they're unique
An invoice number can be any string of number and letters but it needs to be different for each invoice.
Many businesses simply number their invoices sequentially starting from one. If you want your invoice numbers to stay consistent in length as your business grows, decide on say a five or six-figure invoice number as your standard, for example, starting from INV00001.
A clever invoicing system will assign the next invoice number for you and let you choose different ways to view your invoices. This could be by invoice number order, date order, or alphabetically by customer name. The software does the work, so you don’t have to worry about figuring out the best invoice numbering system for you.
Without invoicing software, you may want to use a prefix within the invoice number to help you sort and see things like:
- which invoices apply to which customer by including part of the customer name or a customer number, for example, XER00001, 203-00001
- how many invoices you sent in any month, for example, JAN00001, 01-00001
- how long a customer has been with you, for example, 2014-00001, 2018-00001
Remember to invoice when you're done
You might think it will never happen to you, but it’s easy to forget to invoice for work you’ve done or goods you’ve supplied.
So you need a system that makes it simple to invoice promptly. You might make it a rule that you invoice as soon as a job is complete or before you start on something else. Or you could keep a careful record of time and costs, then invoice daily, weekly or monthly.
If you use invoicing software that works on your mobile phone, there’s no need to wait until you’re back in the office You can send an invoice instantly.
Get the amount of detail right
Always provide a description of the goods or services supplied so the customer knows what they’re paying for. If you provided a quote, use the same language so the customer can see you’re delivering on your promise.
Sending a clear and complete invoice makes you look professional and helps you get paid on time. Be concise, but provide enough detail that your customer doesn’t need to come back and ask you what a charge was for. Limit your invoice to a single page if possible.
If you need to provide a detailed record of the work done or a breakdown of the items used on the job, you can provide a summary on the invoice and add the details in an attachment. If you can, format the attachment so it looks similar in style to the invoice rather than a hurried afterthought.
"Get the client, do the work, and invoice as soon as possible. Make the invoice so clear you get paid for it, no questions asked. The invoice should be your brand equity. The client should be in no doubt about the value-add you bring."
Lisa Martin, Go Fi8ure, Xero gold partner