Do you request payments via email, or worse, with no record at all?
If so, it’s time to learn how to create an invoice. An invoice is a formal request for payment that can benefit your business in several ways:
Good news: It’s easy to use software and other services, like PayPal, Microsoft Word, or Quickbooks to create professional-looking invoice templates that you can use with customers over and over.
Here, I’ll show you how to create your own invoice template using some of the most popular tools on the market. Plus, Simply Business has a FREE invoice template to download.
Send it out to clients to request payments — or use it as an example to help you design your own invoice.
Ready to start invoicing your clients? Download our FREE invoice template & start using it ASAP!
An invoice doesn’t have to be beautiful — just clear and functional. After all, it serves a specific purpose — to help you get paid on time. That said, there are certain elements that typically appear in most invoices.
A professional header. You want to appear “buttoned up” on your invoice. It helps to include a standard header with your business’s logo, contact information, and the date.
An invoice number. Keep track of your invoices by assigning them a unique number. If you need to ask your customer about a specific invoice, you can refer to the number. In short, it helps eliminate confusion.
Due dates. Show the payment due date at the top of the invoice, where they can easily see it. Clear due dates encourage your customers to pay you on time.
Services or items sold. Be clear about what was sold and how much it costs. If you offer an hourly service, include how many hours you worked and your hourly rate. If you sold an item, list its price and quantity. Be clear and simple, so there isn’t any confusion.
Fees or taxes. Depending on what you sell, you may need to add a line for sales tax and fees. For example, add a fee for an expedited service or if an invoice is paid late. And depending on where you live, add your state’s sales tax information.
Total cost. Tally up the services or items you sold, as well as any taxes and fees. Then show the total amount that is due. Make this large and clear — perhaps in a different color so it stands out.
A genuine thank you. End your invoice by thanking your customer. Remember, a personal note can go a long way and even score you more business in the future.
Chances are, you’ve used PayPal, or at least have heard of it. Founded in 1998, PayPal has quickly become one of the largest online payment systems around. It allows small business owners to request money electronically and for customers to make payments via online money transfers.
PayPal is free to set up, so if you don’t like how it works, you can cancel it at any time without a fee.
Here are the steps to create an invoice using PayPal:
First, sign up for a PayPal business account online. You’ll need to enter your business’s name, primary contact, and other details, like a phone number and address.
On your homepage, under Tools, select "Invoicing."
Click "Create an Invoice."
Begin customizing your invoice by adding your business’s logo, and details about your customer, and the item or service that you provided.
Save your invoice as a template by selecting Save as Template. This option is next to Send in the upper-right corner of the webpage.
Give your invoice template a name so you can easily find it later. If you’d like, you can make this template your default template too.
Before you click Send, remember to preview your invoice template and double-check the information for accuracy.
You probably already have Microsoft Word on your computer. This makes it a convenient choice for creating invoices, especially if you don’t want to buy new software. Plus, Word makes it very easy to create an invoice template. No matter what version of Word you have, even if it’s older, it can quickly create an invoice template.
Here are the steps to create an invoice using Word:
Go to File and choose "New from Template."
Search Invoice in the search box.
Select the type of invoice template you like best.
Customize the invoice template you selected by adding your company’s logo, address, and even brand colors.
Type in your invoice’s unique information, including the invoice number, customer information, items sold, and costs.
Go to File and select Save As.
Under File Format, select PDF (Exports). This helps prevent someone from changing the information on your invoice.
Save your PDF invoice in an organized folder on your computer. Then send it to your customer via email.
Tip: You also can select File and Save as Template. This allows you to quickly go back to your document to adjust small details for another customer. That way, you won’t have to rebuild your invoice from scratch.
For many business owners, Quickbooks is a top choice in accounting software. It’s usually best for small- and medium-size businesses and can handle everything from invoicing to generating reports to payroll. If you already use Quickbooks, it’s a natural choice for creating invoices too.
Don’t own Quickbooks now? Try it out with their 30-day free trial. That should give you enough time to determine if it’s the right fit for your business.
Here are the steps to create an invoice using Quickbooks:
After signing up for Quickbooks, go to your Dashboard.
Select "Invoices" and "Send Your First Invoice."
Choose the customer you’d like to invoice or enter the name of a new customer. You can also connect your Gmail account to automatically pull in the names of customers.
In the drop-down menu, choose your payment terms. For example, select NET 30 if you’d like to give your customer 30 days to pay you.
Under Product/Service, add the name of the item or service that you sold. You also can add a description, if needed.
Enter your customer’s email address to email the invoice directly. Often this is the most efficient way to send an invoice.
Remember to preview your invoice before clicking Send. Correct any mistakes before the invoice goes out.
To customize your invoice with a logo and other business details, select Customize and Edit Current. You can adjust the colors, design, and even the font. It’s an opportunity to brand your business and appear polished.
When you’re ready, click Send. Your invoice will go directly to your customer’s email inbox.
Tip: Quickbooks also lets you set up online payments. All you have to do is select "Get Set Up" to fill out an application. This will allow your customer to pay you via credit card.
Download Simply Business’s free invoice template to start requesting payments from clients!
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
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