How to Write an Invoice: 7 Easy Steps that will Help You Look Professional and Get Paid Faster
Ever wondered if your invoices are up to par? Learn how to write a simple, professional invoice so you can spend less time on billing, build trust with your customers, and get paid faster.
Creating invoices for your service business isn’t complicated, but leaving out essential information can lead to disputes or late payments, and make you look unprofessional in clients’ eyes. On the other hand, learning how to write a proper invoice can build trust with customers and encourage them to pay in full, on time.
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from an invoice template, a blank document, or invoicing software. We’ll go over what to include, how to write an invoice, and best practices that will save you time and money.
What Should an Invoice Include?
Before you start writing, go through this checklist to make sure you have all of the invoice elements you need:
- Your company name, logo, and contact info
- A clear title with the word ‘Invoice’
- Invoice issue date and payment due date
- Invoice number
- Name and address of customer
- Description of services rendered
- Subtotal for each service (including rate, amount, and/or quantity used)
- Total amount due, including taxes and discounts
- Payment terms
- Personal note
Tip: You should have all of this information easily on hand. If your client and job details are scattered, look into using client management software (also known as a CRM) to keep everything organized and in one place to make invoicing even easier.
How to Write an Invoice
1. Create a Professional Layout
Your invoice should look professional. This builds trust with your clients and ensures that they will pay you on time. Your business name should be in a large font at the top of the page, either centered or left-aligned.
If you put your logo on your invoice, you’re 3 times more likely to get paid!
Next, be sure to include the word “Invoice” near the top of the page. This step seems simple, but it’s important for your customers to know it’s an invoice they’re receiving, so they can give it the attention it deserves.
Tip: If you’re using invoicing software like Jobber, you can easily add your brand colours to your invoice layout to make it even more memorable for clients.
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2. Include Company and Client Information
Include your business address, phone number, and email immediately below your business name in a smaller font. Clients should be able to easily contact you if they have questions, plus they can refer you to friends if they’re happy with the service!
Next, include the recipient (your client’s) name and address to make sure it reaches the right person. Include the service address if different from their mailing address.
3. Add an Invoice Number, Invoice Date, and Due Date
The three most important numbers on an invoice (after the amount due) are the invoice number, invoice date, and due date. The invoice number keeps your records organized, especially at tax time. The dates are a firm yet polite way to make it clear when customers should pay. Add these near the top and make them clearly visible.
Tip: If you’re using software like Jobber, company and client information, along with the invoice number and invoice date will be generated automatically. You’ll never have to worry about forgetting or putting the wrong number.
4. Write Each Line Item with a Description of Services
Here’s the thing: your customers want to pay you — as long as they understand what they are paying you for. Just see what this landscaping business owner had to say about including line items in Jobber:
“Our customers love seeing line itemization on quotes because they can see exactly where their money is going. Without that, you give them a price and there's a lot of back and forth. The more verbal you are, the more you break it down, the more they're willing to pay.”
Use the invoice to clearly describe each service and its associated costs. Don’t worry about how much detail to add. Just make it clear what the client is paying for. That way they can pay right away without asking questions that may delay the process.
5. Add-up Line Items for Total Money Owed
Finally, add up all of the subtotals and write out the total amount owed on a separate line, with a bold or highlighted font so that it stands out. (Using a good invoice template or software will calculate these fields for you automatically.)
If you have any taxes or discounts to apply, include them just above the total amount owed so that it’s clear to the customer exactly what they need to pay.
6. Include Simple Payment Terms and Payment Options
This step is crucial for good customer service and avoiding disputes. It’s always good to go over these terms in person before the work is done, but be sure to include them on the invoice as an added reminder. For example:
- The payment due date
- Late payment penalties
- Any money-back guarantee or service warranties
Importantly, note exactly how the customer can pay you, whether it’s in cash, by cheque, or ePayments online.
7. Add a Personal Note
The last step is often overlooked, but it can be a great way to leave a positive last impression, request feedback, or even get referrals!
Include a final personal message to the client thanking them for their business. You can add any additional information, such as an upcoming seasonal deal, your referral program, or a request for reviews. This is the very last thing they’ll see before paying, and is a great way to make them feel good about choosing your business.
Up Next: Save, Send, and Collect!
Now that you’ve mastered how to write an invoice, it’s time to send the invoice to your client. Typically, we recommend sending the invoice as soon as the job is complete, while you’re still on-site and it’s fresh in your client’s mind. Your invoice process may be different depending on your relationship with the client and frequency of the work. Check out this article to find out more about invoicing before or after a job.
Here are a few final invoicing best practices that can help simplify your day-to-day and encourage clients to pay faster:
- Go digital: Invoices are legal documents, and you are required to keep copies for tax purposes. Handwritten invoices are not only messy – they’re a liability. Use invoice templates or invoicing software to keep clean records and easily keep track of what is due and who owes you money.
- Make it easy to pay: The easier you make it for clients to pay, the faster they’ll get it over with. Few people still carry cash or cheques, so give them the option to pay online or by credit card on-site. Businesses using Jobber Payments get paid 2-3x faster than cash or cheque!
- Shorten the payment terms: Service companies typically wait more than 25 days to be paid, and that’s not counting overdue payments. Reduce cash flow gaps by shortening the payment terms from 30 days to 14 days. Just make sure to discuss this with the client ahead of time, and clearly indicate it on the invoice.
- Accept deposits and signatures on the spot: If your clients are on-site during your service (such as in HVAC or plumbing invoicing), take advantage by accepting deposits, signatures, and full payments right on site.
Writing invoices may seem tedious. But with a good template or using software that streamlines the process, it doesn’t have to be. Create a winning process using the tips above, and you can simply repeat it every time to perform a service. You’ll spend less time billing and make life easier for you and your clients.