Is your invoice an afterthought? If it is, you’re making a mistake.
As a small business owner, you should know that your invoice is
part of your branding. It needs to look good because it represents your
Your invoice also needs to be clear. There should be no question about how much you are billing for or how your client should pay you.
An unclear invoice could create unnecessary payment delays. It can also waste your time as the client tries to contact you with their questions.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make a professional invoice using an MS Word invoice template. I’ll start by listing the elements of a good invoice. Next, I’ll take you through the step-by-step process of how to make an invoice in Word. Finally, I'll share some resources where you can find your own Word invoice templates.
Elements of a Good Invoice
Creating an invoice is useless if the invoice isn't informative and helpful. In fact, an unprofessional invoice could be worse than unhelpful. It could confuse or upset your client. Here are some important elements of good invoices. Your invoice should:
- contain the right information
- have a professional appearance
- be sent in a timely fashion
You can learn more about the basics of how to create an invoice in this post:
Let's take a look a closer look at each invoice element.
1. A Good Invoice Is Informative
Without the right information, your client may not know what the invoice is for. They may not even know how much to pay you or where to send your payment.
Here is the basic information all invoices should contain:
- your name and contact information
- your logo
- your client’s name and address
- the invoice number
- the invoice date
- a due date
- total amount due
- description of work or goods sold
- payment options
- payment terms
To avoid any confusion, make sure your invoices contain the right information.
Your payment terms are especially important. The right terms can encourage your client to pay promptly. To learn more about the best payment terms to use, review this tutorial:
2. A Good Invoice Has a Professional Appearance
How your invoice looks is also important. You should consider your invoice to be part of your branding effort. Like your stationery, business cards, and other branded documents—it represents your company.
Avoid Common Invoice Design Mistakes
- Haphazard Typos - Avoid using an invoice that is too casual such as the body of an email or slip of paper. Likewise, you don't want to use a sloppy invoice with typos and other mistakes.
- Too Many Colors - Also, choose colors and fonts that are appropriate for your business. Too many bright colors that don't work with your branding will make your invoice look bad. Likewise, using too many fonts is often an unprofessional choice.
- Cluttered Spacing - The right amount of white space is important and will make your invoice more readable. Remember: A cluttered invoice is a confusing invoice.
- Lack of Focus - An unfocused invoice looses you money. You want the critical parts of your invoice, like the payment due, to stand out immediately on your invoice. Hierarchy is important to draw the eye to these details, so your clients know what, when, where, and how to pay you.
Your client is likely to save your invoice in their files. The next time they need to order similar services, they may use your invoice to get your contact information. So, the impression your invoice makes can be a lasting one. Your invoice needs to look sharp and professional.
Use a Professional Invoice Template Design
You may not be able to afford a graphic designer to make a custom invoice, but a good invoice template is inexpensive (between $5 to $9) and can help you create a professional-looking invoice in minutes.
These invoice templates have clear designs, ability to customize them quickly to your small business brand, and get them off to your clients and collecting payments professionally.
3. A Good Invoice Is Timely
When should you invoice your client?
The answer may seem obvious. In most cases, invoice when the work is complete. But pay attention to any prior agreements you made with the client. For example, if you have agreed to invoice the client once a month, then follow through on your agreement.
Surprisingly, some small business owners are hesitant to
send out invoices. They may send their invoice days or even weeks after the
project is complete.
Avoid doing that. Late invoices mean late payments. Clients expect you to invoice them for services rendered. So, send your invoices out in a timely fashion.
Now let's look at how to make your own invoice.
How to Make an Invoice With MS Word
You can use a template to create a professional-looking invoice with Word. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create your own invoices:
Step 1. Gather Your Information
To make sure that you won’t leave anything out of your invoice, make a list of what information you want to include. Here are some places to look for invoice information:
- Client Proposal - The client proposal includes a description of the work, payment amount, and terms.
- Client's Business Card - The client's business card has their contact information.
- Your Business Card - The invoice is part of your branding and should fit with your other branded materials.
- Your Prior Invoices - Your prior invoice includes the most recent invoice number. Your next invoice should follow it sequentially.
Once you've gathered your invoice information, you're ready to start.
In this example, I'll use a Word template to create an
invoice for Anytown Consulting, the company we first saw in this tutorial:
In this new example, Anytown Consulting has created an ebook cover design for Jane Doe. The simple invoice we'll be creating is for an ebook cover design and some meeting time. You can follow this same process to create invoices for your clients.
Step 2. Download the Best Professional Invoice Template for Your Needs
Once you know what your invoice needs to include, select the
right Word invoice template. I used this invoice template from Envato Market because it has a
clean, professional feel. You should choose the invoice template that's right for your business needs.
After you download the invoice invoice, open Windows File Explorer and double-click the invoice template file to open it. The file has a .zip extension:
Click on the subfolder, main files. To choose the color that goes with your logo, double-click on the folder for the color you want to use. The template I chose comes with five color schemes:
Each color scheme is in its own folder. I chose the blue invoice color scheme because that goes best with my logo. Double-click on the folder to open it and the template files for that color scheme display:
To open the Word template, double-click on the file with .docx extension. The invoice template appears in Protected View:
In Protected View, most editing features are turned off. We
want to customize the template for our small business, so we need the editing
features available. So, we are going to turn Protected View off.
To enable normal editing features and turn Protected View off, click the Enable Editing button on the right of the yellow bar at the top of the window. You are now ready to begin customizing the template.
Step 3. Personalize Your Invoice
Once you’ve downloaded the template, make it your own by customizing it. Before we start, though, it’s a good idea to save the template file under a different name so that you can return to the original template if you ever want to use it again.
Now you are ready to personalize your invoice. Start by replacing the logo.
1. Replace the Logo
To replace the logo, click the box on the left of the template that says “Logo place here.” You’ll see handles around the box:
If necessary, use the handles around the logo placeholder to
resize the space for the logo. (Note: The handles look like hollow dots.)
Click the Insert option from the menu at the top of the window. Now click the Pictures icon to select your logo file from your computer. Your screen should look something like this:
Select the logo file you want to add to your invoice. Click the Insert button on the bottom right of the File Explorer window. The logo is added to your invoice:
If necessary, use the handles at the corners of the logo to
resize the logo image to fit the invoice. (Note: If you use the other handles, you
will distort your logo.)
Now you can also erase the placeholder by changing the fill color to white. To do this, select the placeholder. Right-click to bring up a pop-up menu:
Click the Format Shape option. The Format Shape sidebar menu appears. Click the Fill option:
Make sure that the toggle button by the Solid Fill option is selected. Click the Color icon in the center of the Format Shape sidebar to display the Theme Colors palette:
Click the white box in the upper left of the color palette to apply the white color to the placeholder. The invoice should look something like this:
Now we're ready to start adding our information, beginning with the address information.
2. Customize the Text Information
To change your return address in the template, click on the return address field. Handles will appear around the text:
Highlight the text you wish to change to select it. Your screen should look something like this:
Type over the highlighted information with your company
address, phone number and website.
Repeat the process to change the text for the client's information and any other text information you want to change.
In this template the following are all text fields:
- company address
- client address
- project description
- invoice date
- valid day
- payment information
- terms and conditions
- signature line
All these fields can be changed using the process described above. You can also delete text you do not want by right-clicking on the selected text and choosing the Cut option from the drop-down menu.
When you're done, your invoice should look something like this:
3. Change Table Information
We've discussed how to personalize most of the invoice, but the bill itemization text is in table format and needs special handling.
For my sample invoice, I only want to bill for two services:
- meeting time
ebook cover design
That means that my bill itemization table has a lot of extra rows. We need to remove those extra rows.
Start by selecting all but two table rows by highlighting them. Next, right-click to display the drop-down menu:
Click the Delete Cells option to remove the unwanted table rows. Select the Delete entire row option and click OK. Your invoice should look something like this:
Change the text in each cell by selecting it (i.e. highlighting
it) and typing over it. Be careful not to select multiple cells at the same
The dollar figures under the Time Price column and the Cost column are also text. You can change them by typing over them as well.
Don't forget to change the Subtotal, Tax, and Total figures. They are not automatically calculated in this invoice template in Word.
In this example, there is no client discount, so I deleted that table row using the process described earlier.
4. Finalize Your Invoice
Your invoice should look pretty good right now. Take a moment to make sure that all the fields are correct. Don't forget to change the Total Purchase figure in the upper right of the invoice. This is a text field.
It's a good idea to proofread your entire invoice at this time. Look for misspellings in the client's name or address and other typos.
If you've changed the invoice a lot, you may also need to reposition some of the text fields. To do this, select the text field (you should see the handles) and drag it to where you want it to be.
Your finished invoice should look something like this:
Note: I used the version of Word from Office 365 to create this invoice. If you have an earlier version of word, your steps may be slightly different.
Make Your Own Professional Invoice Today
Your invoices are important to your small business. A professional invoice makes a good impression with your customers and helps you get paid promptly. An unprofessional invoice can cause confusion and delay payment.
A good invoice should:
- include the right information
- be professionally designed
- get sent out quickly
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