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How to write an invoice: step-by-step guide

invoice

For any business, after selling your product, it is likely that an invoice will need to be sent to your client in order to get paid. If you have never written an invoice before, you might feel like you do not know where to start, or that it seems difficult. The truth is, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. To make this process simpler and faster, while also giving your business a more professional look, you can consider using an invoice generator to help produce pre-formatted customisable invoices whilst streamlining the overall payment process for you and your clients. However, you can also simply write up invoices on your own without using an invoice generator.

This guide will provide you with all the required information in order to complete your invoice to a high standard and help receive your payments promptly.

1. Clear and concise layout

Clear and concise information on an invoice is the key to build up trust with your clients and reduce any questions they may have about a particular detail or an amount which evidently slows down the process and delays the payment.

Avoid this by using fonts that are easily readable, matching your current strategic business plans and branding that is already in place and if the format remains consistent over time, the payment information can be found quickly, offering a smoother payment process and better service for the clients overall.

2. Include company name and client details

All invoices, either centred or left aligned, display the business name and logo clearly so that the clients instantly recognise what the invoice is for. The word “Invoice” clarifies what the document is about, and the client can begin the process to get the payment sent out swiftly. Key information added below this should include:

  • The address for your business and the relevant contact details.
  • The client’s address and the relevant department or subordinate to contact to ensure that the invoice reaches the right destination.
  • If operating a limited company, key information such as the formal registered name, company registration number and VAT registration number are also required.

3. By law, an invoice number, supply date and issue date are required

The law for invoices, as explained on the gov.uk website, states that all invoices must include an invoice number that ultimately differentiates one payment from another using an individual identification number. These are used to help trace every invoice, also confirming when and who processed the payment.

The invoice must also clearly state a supply date, which confirms the date the products or services were initially provided, followed by an issue date – when the invoice was sent out to the client. If this information is not clearly visible, then the client can even reject the invoice as without this information, certainly confusion and delays will occur.

4. Include itemised billing on the invoice with a brief description relating to the order

Every product or service should be clearly itemised with the cost and a brief description should be given in order to help your client easily identify the order related to the invoice. The description does not have to be too detailed, but enough to clarify what exactly it is your client is paying for. Again, this is to reduce queries relating to an invoice from your client that may slow down the overall payment process, which ultimately affects the service you have provided and could subsequently result in bad feedback for your business.

5. Provide clear subtotals and grand totals

Using a separate line for each product and service and a quantity of each item with the related cost, you can then provide a subtotal and a grand total for your clients to check, break down and calculate easily for themselves. The subtotals exclude any fees or tax with the grand total providing the full amount, including shipping fees, VAT and any discounts that may apply.

6. Offer a variety of payment methods

Like with any business transaction, payment terms should be agreed prior to any orders or purchases being made. The payment due date needs to be clearly marked in order to avoid delays and ensure no late payment fees are added. In the UK for example, certain actions such as charging an additional rate of 8% plus the Bank of England base rate can legally be added to the grand total if a business-to-business transaction is completed late and will be stipulated in the terms and conditions.

To help avoid late payments, the invoice you provide will show the different payment methods that your business accepts whilst also ensuring your own bank account details are easily visible if this is a chosen method to receive payments. Give your clients plenty of options to make a payment, as this helps to speed up the overall process and reduces the chance of a delayed payment because your client does not have a suitable payment method that you accept.

7. Add a personal touch to the invoice

Finally add a brief message thanking the client for choosing your business and ending the transaction on a positive note. This can help to keep clients in the future by showing your gratitude and showing that their business is important to you.

8. Send the invoice online

Finally, once the invoice is ready, the fastest way to send to the client is online, with paper options becoming a thing of the past these days. Sending an invoice online is also instant, which, if there are any payment queries or issues, can help speed up the resolution process thus ensuring a smoother business transaction overall.

Read Next: 5 benefits of an outstanding EMS Billing Management Software

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