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How to write an invoice: Step-by-step guide and free template

Read the QuickBooks guide on how to write an invoice that looks professional, builds trust and helps clear payments faster. Download the free template.

5 min read

Congratulations! You’ve set up a business and sold your first products or services. Now you need to write an invoice to send to your customers to ask for payment. Alternatively, you may have been in business a while, but want to make sure your invoices are professional and include all the necessary details. Either way, we’re here to help.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how to write an invoice that will build trust and clear payments more quickly. We’ll also provide a free invoice template to get you started.

1) Create a professional layout

You might think that fine-tuning the layout of your invoices is time wasted, but in business, every document you send to your customers should look professional. Using fonts and styling that match your branding, including a business logo and maintaining consistent formatting will all help to create the right impression.

Downloading our free invoice template is a great way to start.

2) Add your company name and client details

Every invoice you send out should have your business name clearly displayed in a large font at the top of the page. It can either be centred or left-aligned. You should also include the word ‘invoice’ at the top of the document so that your client will know exactly what they’re receiving and who it’s from straight away.

Next should come details about your company and the client. You should include the following:

  • Your company’s address and contact details 

  • Your customer’s company name and address, along with a contact name to make sure it reaches the right person - if you’re not sure what contact name to include, always give the client a quick call to check

  • If you operate a limited company, you should also include your formal registered name, company registration number and VAT registration number

3) Include an invoice number, supply date and issue date

According to the Gov.uk website, there are certain details that, by law, every invoice should include. Among them is a unique identification number, also known as an invoice number. An invoice number is essential because it gives you an easy way to track whether payments have been made and who made them. 

Your invoice must also include a supply date, which is when the goods or services were provided. You’ll also need an issue date, which is when the invoice was sent to the customer. Failing to include any of those details can potentially cause payment delays and lead to invoices being rejected by your clients.

4) Write a description of the goods and services provided

You should give a brief description of each of the products and services you’ve supplied on a separate line along with their associated costs. The description does not need to be particularly detailed, but it should be enough for your customers to identify what they’re paying for. 

Without clear product or service descriptions, your customers are far more likely to query an invoice. That could cause unwelcome payment delays.

5) Calculate the subtotal and grand total

As well as detailing the quantity of each product or service provided and the associated costs, you should also provide a subtotal and grand total, with each on a separate line. The subtotal should be the cost of the goods and services before any fees or tax. The grand total should be the full amount owed, including VAT, shipping costs and any discounts that may apply.

6) Provide payment terms and options

You should always discuss your payment terms with your clients before you agree to do business with them. That will help to reduce the risk of late payments and make sure your expectations are understood. You should also include a payment due date on your invoice and make sure that it’s clear.

It’s also important to set out the different payment types you accept and provide the information your customers will need to make them, such as bank account details. Giving customers a choice of payment methods can be beneficial; the easier the process is, the faster they’re likely to pay you.

Given the late payment culture in the UK, it’s also worth explaining the actions you’ll take if a payment is not made on time. You’re legally entitled to charge interest at a rate of 8% plus the Bank of England base rate on late payments for business-to-business transactions. You should state your intention to do so in the invoice’s terms and conditions.

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7) Include a personal note

It’s always nice to include a personal message in the invoice to lighten the mood and leave a positive impression. You may want to thank the customer for their business or offer them a future discount.

Next steps to collecting customer payments

Once you’ve written your invoice, the next step is to record it and send the invoice to your customer. The easiest and fastest way to send an invoice is online. That way, you know there won’t be any untimely delays that could potentially damage your cash flow.

If you’re looking to simplify your invoicing process, consider using QuickBooks’ easy to navigate invoicing software to speed things up and improve your cash flow.

QuickBooks is here to help

We hope you’ve found this article about how to write an invoice useful. If you want to learn more about invoicing and getting paid on time, visit our small business blog.