How to Write an Invoice: 7 Easy Steps to Look Professional and Get Paid Faster
Learning how to create a complete invoice is a step you can’t skip as a small business owner.
When your client receives a complete, professional-looking invoice, it reflects well on your business. You build trust with customers and you also encourage them to pay in full, on time.
Keep reading to learn how to make a professional, simple invoice that you can feel confident sending out and will help get you paid faster.
Learn how to write an invoice:
For more advice on creating service invoices, hear from experienced business owners in this episode of Ask a Business Mentor:
What is an invoice?
An invoice is a statement of what your customer owes you after you complete a job or service visit. It describes what products and services your company provided, how much they cost, how much is due and when, and how your customer can pay you.
1. Start with a professional layout
Some people download invoice templates into Word or Excel – but these can be hard to work with and take time. Not to mention that the end product usually looks pretty bland. A better option is using an online invoice generator that comes pre-built with a strong layout you can use right away without worrying about formatting.
Pro Tip: In Jobber’s invoicing software, you can also add your brand colors to your invoice layout to make it more memorable to clients and to help establish your brand.
2. Include company and customer information
Add your business address, phone number, and email immediately below your business name in a smaller font.
This helps customers get in touch with you easily if they have questions or concerns. Even better: happy customers can use your contact info to refer you to friends and family.
Next, include the recipient (your client’s) name and address to make sure it reaches the right person. Include the service address on the bill too, if it’s different from their mailing address.
3. Add a unique invoice number, an issue date, and a due date
The three most important numbers on an invoice are the invoice number, invoice issue date, and due date.
The invoice number and issue date help keep your records organized. This is important for filing taxes of course, but also for cases of a recurring invoice or multiple invoices to one client. If you have an unpaid invoice that’s been sitting with your client for a while, you’ll want to be able to tell them which one you’re talking about when you reach out.
The due date makes it clear when customers should pay for your services. Not every business will include one, but many do – it’s a good practice to help you get paid faster.
Add these three items near the top and make them clearly visible.
With Jobber, your company and customer information, along with the invoice number and invoice date, are generated automatically every time. You’ll never have to worry about forgetting or putting the wrong number on your customer bills.
4. Write each line item with a description of services
A line item is just a clear description of each service and/or product provided, along with their costs. In a column beside each line item, add quantities (‘QTY’) to show the number of labor hours, materials, or other units you’re charging for.
READ MORE: How to price your services
When you name your line items, make it clear what your client is paying for. For example, instead of only writing “Lawn Treatment” as a line item, you should write “Crabgrass Control” or “Grub Control.”
You might also include product names or types of materials, like the brand of dimmer switches you installed or the species of hardwood you used for a flooring job.
Descriptions underneath each line item help the client understand why the parts they’re paying for are necessary for the job. If you sent a detailed, itemized quote to your client before the job started, copy those line items over to your invoice.
READ MORE: Quotes vs invoices: what’s the difference?
Knowing how to write an invoice with clear line items is crucial. An easily understandable invoice helps your client pay right away without asking questions that may delay the billing and invoicing process.
Your customer is more likely to pay an invoice if they know what they’re paying for. It’s good to know what to do if a customer won’t pay an invoice, but it’s even better to avoid the situation from the start.
5. Add up line items for total money owed
Once you price each line item, add up your subtotal and write it near the bottom of your invoice. A good invoice template or invoice software will calculate these fields for you automatically.
Calculate taxes, service charges, or discount pricing you’ve applied to the job, then write your total amount owed on a separate line. Make this number bolded or highlighted so that it stands out.
6. Include your payment terms and payment options
Payment terms are the details related to how you collect payment. This step is crucial for good customer service and avoiding possible invoice disputes. It’s always good to talk about each payment term before the work is done and be sure to include them on the invoice as a reminder.
The payment details at the bottom of your invoice should include:
- The total amount due, including any applicable sales tax
- The payment due date
- Your late payment fees and policy
- Any money-back guarantee or service warranties
- A list of accepted payment methods, such as debit, credit card, cash, check, bank transfer, or other online payment methods like Paypal.
If you have a preferred payment method, make sure your client is aware before completing the work and then still include that payment method on the invoice as a payment term.
7. Add a personal note
Thank your customer for their business in a quick message at the bottom of the invoice. You can add any additional information, such as an upcoming seasonal deal, your referral program, or a request for reviews or helpful feedback.
This is the very last thing they’ll see before paying, and it’s a great way to make them feel good about choosing your business.
What you should include in your invoice: quick checklist
▢ Your company name, logo, and contact information
▢ The client’s name and contact information
▢ A clear title with the word ‘invoice’
▢ The invoice number and invoice date
▢ Description of services rendered
▢ Subtotal for each service (including hourly rates or quantities used)
▢ Total amount due (including sales tax, fees, and discounts)
▢ The payment due date
▢ Your payment terms and accepted payment methods
▢ A thank you note
Best practices for invoicing
Feeling confident about how to write an invoice? Here are a few final invoicing best practices that can help simplify your day-to-day and encourage clients to pay faster:
- Send your invoices online so it’s easier to resend them, store them, and send invoice reminders to customers
- Shorten your payment terms to 14 days so you can avoid late and unpaid invoices
- Accept deposits and signatures on the spot to collect payment faster and improve cash flow
- Make it easy for customers to pay by giving the option to pay online or by credit card on-site
- Use digital invoice templates or invoicing software to keep clean records
Creating invoices for your service business shouldn’t be complicated. But leaving out essential pieces can lead to disputes, late payments, and looking unprofessional to your customers.
If you follow these tips on how to write an invoice, your invoices will improve your client relationships and make collecting payment easier.
Originally published in April 2019. Last updated February 2022.