How to write an invoice: what to include in an invoice template (2023)

You’ve set up your business and sold goods or services to clients and customers, which means you need to send them an invoice. But how do you write an invoice?

Even if you’ve been running your business for a while, you might be wondering whether there’s more information you should include when you draft your invoices.

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What is an invoice?

An invoice is a bill that businesses send to customers or clients, asking for payment for goods or services. Invoices usually include a description of the items you’re charging for along with payment terms, amongst other information.

Invoices are an important part of bookkeeping, as businesses need to keep information about sales and income for tax and accounting.

Invoices are different to receipts (which acknowledge payment) and purchase orders (which notify intent to buy goods and services).

Download your free invoice template

This article explains how to make an invoice, but what about getting an invoice example you can use straight away?

(Video) Creating Professional Invoice in Excel | Receipt Making Tutorial | Free Template

Below you'll find a pack of four invoice templates that you can use to create your own professional invoices. Our template pack includes editable invoice templates for limited companies and sole traders – both with and without VAT.

Get your free invoice templates

Download your free invoice templates that you can edit yourself. Get instant access in the click of a few buttons.

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How to create an invoice: step-by-step

Wondering what to include on an invoice? Gov.uk says that there’s certain information that your invoices must include – follow the steps below to get your invoices up and running in no time.

(Video) Invoices: What You NEED TO KNOW

1. Make your invoice look professional

The first step is to put your invoice together. You can do this yourself using a word processor or Excel, but you could also use one of our free invoice templates above.

There may even be sample templates on your word processor, depending on the program you’re using.

You should use professional fonts and styling that match your brand, then add your logo and colours if possible.

2. Clearly mark your invoice

Make sure your customers know it’s an invoice they’re receiving. Just adding the word invoice at the top of your document might make it more likely you’ll be paid on time, as it makes your request for payment stand out from other documents your client might get.

The guidelines on the gov.uk website also state “you must clearly display the word ‘invoice’ on the document.”

Your invoice needs to have a unique identification number. This is for your records, as you should have a reference for all the invoices you’ve raised to make sure you don’t create duplicates.

You can use a sequence of numbers that gradually increases. You could also use letters in front of a number, which might indicate a specific client.

3. Add company name and information

This means both your company’s information and the details of the company you’re invoicing:

  • your company’s name, address, and contact details

  • your customer’s company name and address, including a contact’s name so it reaches the right person

  • your registered office address and company registration number if you’re a limited company, along with the formal registered name

Keep in mind that if you’re a limited company and you choose to add the names of your directors on the invoice, you need to add the names of all directors.

4. Write a description of the goods or services you’re charging for

These descriptions don’t need to be long, but they should be detailed enough for your customers to know what it is they’re paying for.

(Video) How to Make an Invoice | FREE Invoice Template

After all, if they have no idea what they’re being charged for, they’re more likely to query the invoice – leading to a delay in payment.

Once you’ve added a clear description of each item, you should add in the quantity of each and the price.

5. Don’t forget the dates

You need to add some dates to your invoice. These are:

  • the date you provided your goods or service (the supply date)

  • the date you create the invoice

You could add the supply date to the description of your goods or service, and add the invoice date at the top along with your name, address, and contact details.

6. Add up the money owed

As well as including the costs of individual goods or services, you need to put the total amount owed as well.

Plus, if you’ve agreed a discount with your customer, note this down on the invoice and subtract it from the total cost.

If applicable, include the VAT amount too.

7. Mention payment terms

You should have agreed payment terms with the customer beforehand, but it’s a good idea to note the terms of payment on the invoice as well.

So if you expect to be paid within a certain number of days, remind the customer by including it on the invoice.

More importantly, note down how exactly your customer should make the payment. It’s likely you’ll want the customer to make the payment directly to a bank account. If that’s the case, be sure to add your bank details.

Including clear payment terms –as well as making it easy for customers to pay you – should help with your business's cash flow, as it encourages quick payment.

If you’re looking for a bank, here are the best business bank accounts as voted for by businesses themselves.

Issuing VAT invoices

Gov.uk says that you should use VAT invoices if you’re VAT registered. These invoices need more information on them than normal invoices.

(Video) Create Professional Invoice Template | Create Invoice in Excel | Excel Tutorials

There are different types of VAT invoices you can issue – a full invoice, a modified invoice for retail supplies over £250, and a simplified invoice for supplies under £250.

The information you need to include depends on the type of VAT invoice you’re issuing. There’s a handy table on the gov.uk website that lets you know what information you should add depending on the invoice.

In general, though, they need the same information as normal invoices, plus:

  • your VAT registration number

  • the tax point (time of supply) if it’s different than the invoice date

  • the VAT rate and total VAT charged, if all the items are charged at the same rate

  • if different items have different VAT rates, then show this for each one

How to send an invoice

The quickest and easiest way to send your invoices is by email. You can attach your invoice in an un-editable PDF format (to prevent fraud) and include a clear, brief description of your business and invoice in the subject line and body of the email.

Different customers and clients might have different processes on receiving invoices. It might be a good idea to find out whether there’s certain information to include in the subject line that’ll help you get paid faster.

After you’ve sent an invoice, you could choose to give your customer a phone call to check they’ve received it – and if the payment isn’t forthcoming, you can politely nudge your customer.

Alternatively, there’s software that can take the hassle out of sending invoices. In some cases, you can create and send invoices directly from a mobile app – more on those below.

If a customer has multiple outstanding invoices, you might also choose to send a statement of account to help them keep track of what they owe (and pay you on time).

What about invoice software?

Above, we've provided a selection of free downloadable invoice templates that you can edit yourself. You can use these to take the stress out of creating your own invoices from scratch.

If you want to know how to make an invoice yourself, you can also have a look at our list of the best invoice apps for even more invoice template options.

(Video) Clean & Professional Invoice Template (for FREE)

Plus, some digital-first and mobile-only banks can even create and chase invoices for you, taking the hassle out of record keeping. Have a look at the best business challenger banks.

How are you getting on with creating your invoices? Let us know in the comments below.

FAQs

What do I write in notes on an invoice? ›

How and Why Should You Write a Note to Your Client with Your Invoice?
  1. Payment due date.
  2. Numbers of invoice or customer reference.
  3. Partial or full payment details.
  4. A thank you note for doing business with you.
25 Aug 2022

What makes a good invoice? ›

Three crucial pieces of information to include on your invoice are the total amount due, the due date, and the terms of payment. This keeps everybody on the same page, and makes sure everything is clear for both parties.

What is invoice with example? ›

An invoice is an itemized commercial document that records the products or services delivered to the customer, the total amount due, and the preferred payment method. The seller can send either paper or electronic invoices to the customer.

What should you not put on an invoice? ›

7. Incorrect or missing details.
  1. Legal company name and number.
  2. Office address.
  3. The client's name and address.
  4. Invoice number.
  5. Invoice date.
  6. Due date.
  7. Any tax numbers that may be required by local law.
  8. Payment terms.
27 May 2017

What are 2 of the most important components of an invoice? ›

Generally, in terms of the content in an invoice, you're going to have two main sections. The first, with the contact information of the parties and the payment details. Then a second, with a list of the goods and services. Oftentimes, the contact information will be above, and the details of the items below.

How do I make a simple invoice? ›

How to create an invoice: step-by-step
  1. Make your invoice look professional. The first step is to put your invoice together. ...
  2. Clearly mark your invoice. ...
  3. Add company name and information. ...
  4. Write a description of the goods or services you're charging for. ...
  5. Don't forget the dates. ...
  6. Add up the money owed. ...
  7. Mention payment terms.
13 Aug 2020

What are four items that are required on an invoice? ›

What must an invoice include?
  • Your company name and contact details. ...
  • The client's name and contact details. ...
  • A unique invoice number. ...
  • Date of issue and due date. ...
  • Itemised description of products or services provided. ...
  • Cost per item. ...
  • Total amount due.

What is a proper invoice? ›

A proper invoice is a written or electronic request for payment submitted by the vendor that must contain the following information: Vendor name; Name of NYS Agency that ordered the goods or services; Description of goods or services requesting payment for (may be in narrative or code values format);

What is invoice answer in one sentence? ›

An invoice is a time-stamped commercial document that itemizes and records a transaction between a buyer and a seller.

What is the most important aspect of an invoice? ›

The due date should absolutely appear on the invoice and might be the most important item on this list (along with the product description and total amount). The due date will help keep the process and invoice history organized.

How do I know if an invoice is correct? ›

Essential Documents you need to Verify an Invoice
  1. Valid trade license number mentioned on the invoice.
  2. Quoted estimate for the same service/product.
  3. Purchase Order Issued.
  4. Duly signature delivery note with specifications.
  5. Payment receipt for all the reimbursable expenses claimed.
23 Nov 2021

What is invoice simple? ›

An invoice is a document given to the buyer by the seller to collect payment. It includes the cost of the products purchased or services rendered to the buyer.

How do I write a basic invoice? ›

Invoices - what they must include
  1. a unique identification number.
  2. your company name, address and contact information.
  3. the company name and address of the customer you're invoicing.
  4. a clear description of what you're charging for.
  5. the date the goods or service were provided (supply date)
  6. the date of the invoice.

How do you write an invoice for a beginner? ›

Creating An Invoice: A Guide For Beginners
  1. An invoice number.
  2. Dates.
  3. Payment terms.
  4. Your contact information.
  5. A description of the goods/services provided.
  6. A cost breakdown and total cost.
22 Mar 2022

What should a small business invoice include? ›

Make sure each invoice lays out: All contact information including your business name, your name, address, and phone number. An itemized list of the product or service that you have provided. The due date and subsequent payment options you accept.

What do you say at the bottom of an invoice? ›

Saying “please pay your invoice” or “thank you for your business” may not only help you get paid faster, but it'll be good for your brand and image.

What does an invoice need to include legally? ›

What makes invoices legal? An invoice is an accounting document. But is an invoice a legal document? It contains important information such as date and method of payment, type and value of goods and services sold as well as amounts of taxes due.

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