How to write an invoice: what it needs to include

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

Even if you’ve been running your business for a while, you might still be wondering whether there’s more information you need to include on your invoices.

That’s why we’ve put a guide together on how to write an invoice. From making it look professional to the information you need to add, we’ve got you covered.

How to create an invoice: step-by-step

1. Create your invoice – make it professional

The first step is to put your invoice together. You can do this yourself using a word processor or Excel, but there are also lots of customisable free templates on the internet you can use too.

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

You should use professional fonts and styling that match your brand, and 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 could mean it’s more likely you’ll be paid on time, as it distinguishes your request for payment from other documents your client might get.

It’s also a guideline on the gov.uk website, which says “you must clearly display the word ‘invoice’ on the document.”

An invoice also needs to have a unique identification number. This makes for good record keeping, as you should have a reference of all the numbers you’ve used 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.

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 should make sure you put the total amount owed as well.

Plus, if you’ve agreed any 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 on them 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, and if that’s the case be sure to add some bank details.

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.

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

What about invoice software?

The good news is the world becomes increasingly digital, there’s a big range of both paid and free invoice apps you can use to take the stress out of creating your invoices and sending them to customers. Have a look at our list of the best invoice apps for more information.

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

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