If there is one thing that any freelancer or business owner needs to know how to do, it’s preparing an invoice.
After all, giving your client an invoice is how you can get paid for work.
Invoices come in many shapes and sizes, and colours and fancy designs. But if you were to line them all up side by side, you’ll realise that they all contain more or less the same info.
And today, I’ll share with you what this info is so you can prepare your own invoice.
(Also: stay tuned to the end of this guide, where I’ll be sharing a free invoice template you can use to shortcut the invoice creation process 😉)
Let’s get started.
How to prepare an invoice
An invoice consists of 3 sections:
Here’s the info you should be including in each section, and how.
First, fire up your favourite word processing software.
This could be Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Google Docs or something else.
Then, right at the top, type the word “INVOICE” in huge font.
This helps clearly state that the document is an invoice rather than a receipt, letter, certificate etc.
The next step is to key in information on both you and your client. For example:
- Your company name, registration number and address
- Your contact details (email address, phone number etc.)
- Client’s name and address (you may need to “Attn” the invoice to a particular person or the client’s accounts department—check with your client)
- Client’s contact details
Whether you want to put these details to the left or to the right of the invoice (or both, e.g. your details on the left and the client’s on the right) doesn’t really matter.
Lastly, insert an overview of the invoice. This includes:
- Invoice number (this could be as simple as “INV-001”)
- Invoice date
- Amount due (specifying the currency if you want to be precise about things)
- Payment due date
Other optional things you might want to include in the header are:
- Your company logo
- Project name
And that’s it for the invoice header! It should look something like what you see in the image above.
Now, let’s move on to the body of the invoice.
This is the all-important part of the invoice where you’ll list the services you’ve provided, and how much you’re charging for them, in a table.
Your table might have 4 columns:
- Description: A description of the service(s) provided. Add a new row for each separate service.
- Quantity: The quantity of such service(s) provided.
- Unit-price: Your fee for each service provided.
- Amount: The total you’re charging for that service. Calculated using quantity x unit-price.
For example, you’re a freelance event photographer who has been engaged for 3 full-day shoots, and you charge $1,000 per day. Your invoice might look like this:
|Unit price (SGD)
|Full-day photography for ABC Event on 27, 28 and 29 February 2020
Below these rows, include the final amount due under your invoice.
This means adding up all the total fees for each row in your table. And if you charge GST, state how much GST you’re charging too. Then, state the final amount due.
Here’s how you might present such info, using the same freelance event photographer example from above:
|Unit price (SGD)
|Full-day photography for ABC Event on 27 February 2020
|Full-day photography for ABC Event on 28 February 2020
|Full-day photography for ABC Event on 29 February 2020
So you’re done with this table! What’s next is your notes section.
This is where you’ll state your invoice’s terms and instructions. Such as:
- Payment modes: bank transfer, credit card, cheque etc. Be sure to include any necessary relevant information, such as your bank account number or to whom the cheque should be made payable.
- Late payment fees or early payment discounts: Include this if you charge a fee for late payments and/or provide a discount for early payments, and how these amounts are calculated.
We’re almost done with the invoice!
The last and easiest part of the invoice is the footer section, where you can add any miscellaneous notes or instructions to your client.
This could be as simple as a short note to thank the client for their business, for example.
If you want to leave your footer blank, that’s fine too.
Also, there’s generally no need for you to sign your invoice before sending it to the client. So you don’t have to create a signature box for the invoice footer.
Consider using invoicing software
Above, I’ve explained how you can prepare an invoice in word processing software. But for long-term purposes, you may want to consider using invoicing software to prepare invoices.
That’s because invoicing software can help generate invoices much faster compared to you manually doing one up in word processing software.
When you first sign up for the invoicing software, you would typically be asked to provide your:
- Company details (for the invoice header)
- Payment details (for the invoice body)
- Invoice notes (for the invoice footer)
Then, when you want to do up an invoice using invoicing software, you would just:
- Select which client you want to send an invoice to (if you haven’t invoiced this client before, you’ll need to set up their details the first time. But subsequently, you can simply call up this client’s info without retyping it.)
- Fill in the invoice number, invoice date and payment due date (for the invoice header)
- Fill in the description of what you’re invoicing for (for the invoice body). The software will automatically do any fee calculations so you don’t have to do it yourself.
And that’s it! You can then download your invoice in a PDF to email to your client, or send the invoice to your client directly from the invoicing software.
If you’re new to invoicing software, here are some you can check out:
Here’s a free invoice template to help you get started!
One major hurdle you may face when doing up an invoice for the first time in word processing software is with the formatting of the invoice.
That’s because to arrange the text to where you want them to appear (especially for the invoice header), you may need to fiddle with invisible text boxes, text wrapping and other tedious settings.
Instead of going through such trouble, feel free to download my free invoice template! It’s a Microsoft Word template that I created and used in the past to invoice clients.
The template is fully editable, so feel free to change it up to fit your needs.
Written by Tan Siew Ann
Fueled by a long-standing interest in media, Siew Ann ventured into digital marketing while in law school and has not looked back since. Being inspired by the struggles that she and others have faced while freelancing in Singapore, Siew Ann started lancerX to help freelancers turn their craft into sustainable and meaningful full-time businesses.