What to Include on an Invoice: Must Haves to Get Paid
An invoice is a bill you send clients after you’ve completed a job to get paid. While creating one looks simple enough, invoices require specific information and formatting such as service descriptions, the total amount owed, and payment terms.
Unfortunately, many small business owners get the invoice format wrong with incomplete information, incorrect contact details, and confusing terms. These errors often cause payment delays—and can negatively affect cash flow.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you and you get paid on time, here’s what to include on an invoice (plus examples) and invoicing do’s and don’ts.
What should you include on an invoice?
- Your business name and contact information
- The term ‘invoice’ and an invoice number
- Name and address of the client you’re invoicing
- Invoice issue date and payment due date
- Date the services or products were provided (supply date)
- A clear description of services and products provided
- Amounts charged for each line item
- Total amount due, including taxes and discounts
- Payment terms and payment methods
- A thank you note
Before discussing these invoicing elements in detail, here’s an example of an invoice that captures all of them.
If you’re writing your first invoice and aren’t sure how to properly format it, you can use a free invoice template or invoice generator, which has every element included. Just add your personal details and job information and you’re ready to go.
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Invoice elements: What to put on an invoice, so you get paid faster
Add your business’s legal name, address, and contact information (phone, email, and website) to the top of the invoice so clients can contact you if they have questions.
If you have a company logo, include that too! Not only does this add a layer of professionalism and credibility, but adding a business logo makes you 3x more likely to get paid.
Each invoice requires a unique invoice number to keep your records organized. You can generate invoice numbers sequentially or use invoicing software to automatically generate unique numbers and avoid duplicates.
Include the invoice number at the top of the document along with the word ‘invoice’ in a medium-large font so clients can instantly identify the document and give it the required attention.
Add your recipient’s information below yours. Include the client’s full name and mailing address. If you’re servicing another business or contractor, include their trading name and the name of the person who handles your account.
This information ensures the invoice reaches the right person, and can be crucial if there’s any legal dispute.
Always add the invoice creation date (issue date) and the payment due date. We suggest writing out a specific due date rather than “net 30.”
A specific date is easier to remember and creates a more tangible deadline in the client’s mind.
Tip: You can automatically generate these due dates without thinking about it using invoicing software like Jobber. You can also track upcoming due dates and see reminders of when a payment is overdue.
Adding a supply date is helpful if your client has any queries or disputes about when (or if) you were on their property.
To back up the supply date with evidence, you can use GPS Waypoints to track your team’s location when they clock in and out of jobs. You can show clients this information down to the minute.
Clients will sometimes question whether you were on-site when you said you were. With Waypoints, it’s pretty easy to back that up right down to the minute. Even if the guys forget to track what time they got to a job, I already have that information. I don’t even have to ask.
– Matt Davis, Adair Tree Care
For line items and service descriptions, be as clear as possible. The easier you make it for clients to understand the invoice, the faster they can pay you.
Instead of a general description such as “installation,” write down exactly what you installed, where you installed it, and what parts were purchased and used.
This part of the invoice can be tedious. You need to rely on your employees (and yourself) to keep track of all line items, so you’re not losing money.
Make your life easier by using software. Jobber lets you save custom line items so you can create consistent invoices in just a few clicks.
Tip: Go one step further by using a CRM (Client Relationship Manager) that integrates with your invoice software. A good CRM will let you attach detailed notes and photos to each job, so you know what work was done.
Tally up the total cost of every service and/or product provided and write it below the itemized list of services. Below that, add any taxes and discounts, if applicable.
The final number is the total amount owed. Write it down on a separate line and emphasize it by bolding or highlighting. Do the math carefully, or use invoicing software to automatically calculate every line item, tax, and discount for you.
Use your invoice to clearly state the following payment terms:
- Accepted payment methods (online, cash, check, or credit card)
- Payment instructions (e.g., where clients can go to pay online, or who they should make the cheque out to)
- Payment due dates to avoid unpaid invoices
- Any late payment fees
- Your money-back guarantee or service warranty disclaimers
It’s best practice to discuss these terms with the client in person before doing the work so they understand and agree with them.
You can also add these terms to your service quote and have the client sign off before starting the work.
READ MORE: Quotes vs. invoices: What’s the difference?
Even though an invoice is a legal document and must be taken seriously, you can still inject your personality. A short ‘thank you’ message near the bottom of the page is a great way to end the invoice on a warm and positive note.
You can also use this space to remind clients of your referral program or request a review.
Tip: If you’re using invoicing software like Jobber, you can add your brand colors to your invoice to make it even more memorable for clients.
Invoicing dos and don’ts
If you’ve gone through this list and added each element (or used our handy free invoice template), you should have a professional invoice. For more tips on making invoices, read our guide to writing an invoice.
We’ll leave you with a few invoice do’s and don’ts so you can get started with confidence.
- Write invoices by hand: Handwritten invoices are messy, easy to lose, and make you look unprofessional in your clients’ eyes. Instead, create digital invoices using a template or invoice software.
- Use confusing payment terms: Client questions can delay payment. Use simple words, short but clear descriptions, and make yourself available before and during the job to answer any client questions.
- Limit your payment methods: Clients expect multiple payment methods. If you limit payment options, they may choose another business.
- Be polite: Requesting payment can be uncomfortable. Do so politely, and they’ll be more likely to settle up with a smile.
- Send it promptly: The best time to send an invoice is as soon as possible after the job is complete. The longer you wait, the longer the client may take to pay.
- Send the invoice as a PDF: Avoid sending invoices as an Excel or Word document as clients can easily edit them. Instead, send the invoice as a PDF— they are universally accepted and cannot be edited by anyone but you. Plus, it looks more professional.
- Use an invoicing process your whole team understands: If you work with an office admin or have multiple field technicians, make sure everyone is on the same page. Use a consistent template and invoice process to avoid errors, double billing, or invoices slipping through the cracks.
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Originally published June 2019, last updated September 2021.