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5 Invoice Template Tips You Need to Learn Now

5 Invoice Template Tips You Need to Learn Now

In any business, no matter the type or size, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of invoicing. After all, invoices serve as the interface through which businesses take in revenue—their most fundamental function. However, the apparent simplicity of the invoicing process often leads to business owners taking the step for granted and using generic invoices, which can cause all manner of unwanted consequences.

Ensuring your business uses effective and well-designed invoices will encourage timely invoice payments, help you and your clients stay coordinated, and even contribute to improved brand recognition, appreciation, and loyalty. However, using flawed and poorly designed invoices will likely lead to confusion, miscommunication, late or forgotten invoice payments, and ultimately a disruption to the most critical bottom line in any business: cash flow.

So, how can you avoid these pitfalls and come up with exactly the right invoices for your specific business? It all starts with creating your very own tailormade invoice template, and thanks to recent advancements in business technology, a wide variety of highly customizable free invoice templates are conveniently available online.

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Top 5 Invoice Template Tips for Small Businesses

Here are the top five invoice template tips you need to learn now to craft unique, visually appealing, and above all, effective invoices for your small business.

  • 1. Choose the right template
  • 2. Embrace customization
  • 3. Strike the right tone
  • 4. Keep it simple
  • 5. Be specific

1. Choose the right template.

Your first consideration when creating a customized invoice template should be to ensure that its overall appearance and style match the nature of your business and fit in with its branding. As a rule, invoices should always be kept professional. However, depending on the specific type of business, some degree of stylistic difference should still be expected. For instance, an attorney will likely want to use a more strait-laced invoice template than one used by, say, a children's entertainer.

Looks aren’t the only concern, however, when choosing the most appropriate invoice template. While it may seem like any old template will do, at least as far as the information it contains, many include subtle differences in order to tailor the invoice to certain payments or job types. For instance, some invoice templates might list whether they are for goods sold or services rendered, while others may be meant for fee collection or service charges, and others still could be formatted specifically for common professional services like attorney or accountant fees. Be aware of whether your template is specific to your needs, and make sure to choose a form that fits.

Most invoicing software and other sources of customizable invoice templates will include a drop-down menu that allows you to select from a variety of invoice formats and layouts. Take time to look through these options, and you should be able to find an invoice template that will accommodate your technical requirements while maintaining an aesthetic that closely correlates with that of your company.

When the look and form of your invoices match with the style and nature of your business, it can help to avoid confusion on the part of clients and serve as an easy opportunity to strengthen your brand.

Choose the right template
Embrace customization

2. Embrace customization.

Speaking of strengthening your brand and tailoring invoices to fit your specific needs, the best way to accomplish both of these is through invoice template customization. If your invoices end up looking largely the same as everyone else’s, they will be in much greater danger of going unnoticed and ignored. Luckily, invoice template customization tools will allow you to create invoices that stand out and are instantly recognizable as yours.

The first and most important customization that should be made on any invoice is the prominent inclusion of both your client’s and your business’s contact information. This, along with an invoice number, due date, itemized list of charges, and payment options, is among the most essential elements to be included on your invoice template.

The next most important invoice customization every business owner should make is adding a company logo to the invoice template. This is the easiest and best way to personalize your invoices. It will allow clients to quickly recognize invoices from your business, which will help them stay organized and encourage them to make their invoice payments on time. Invoices without a logo are more likely to be overlooked or misidentified and can make your business seem small and disorganized. Even the simplest invoice templates available online will usually allow you to easily add a logo, so be sure to select a template that includes this feature.

Above and beyond your logo, a customizable invoice template that allows you to select between different colors and fonts can help you to better match your company’s aesthetic and make your invoices even more personal and recognizable. Additionally, the ability to customize the way your charges and fees are listed and described will help clients to see clearly what they’re paying for and encourage them to remain on time with their payments.

To make your company brand stick out;

  • Add your business logo
  • Select company color theme
  • Select professional template

3. Strike the right tone.

So, you have the look of your invoice set. What about the language? The words used on an invoice can be just as important as its appearance in terms of advancing your brand, as well as establishing and furthering your relationships with customers.

Above all else, you should strive to make your language as concise as possible without sacrificing meaning. Excessive descriptions of products or services should be avoided in favor of using the fewest words necessary to clearly indicate the product or service being referred to.

You should also work to avoid unnecessarily complex language when referring to payments. Many businesses will use overly technical jargon on invoices in ways that can confuse clients. For example, instead of using wording like “payment due on receipt,” just list the specific due date.

Finally, be sure the language used in your invoices and any related communication is polite and courteous. Doing so will help you maintain positive working relationships, increase your business’s favorability, and improve the likelihood of repeat business. Studies have also suggested that a polite tone can lead to quicker payment from customers.

Strike the right tone
Keep it simple

4. Keep it simple.

When crafting invoices for your business, it’s absolutely essential that the pertinent information they contain is displayed clearly and is easy to read and understand. Luckily, most invoice templates make organizing this information as simple as filling in a form.

In addition to your company logo, each invoice should be labeled with a clear title at the top, which includes—or simply is—the word "Invoice." Below this title, your invoices should first list the name and general contact information of both your business and the client being invoiced. This should be done as simply and cleanly as possible, avoiding unnecessary text, graphics, and other visual flair that could contribute to clutter and make your invoices more confusing and less instantly recognizable.

The degree of itemization and specificity to include within the list of charges will vary based on the nature of your business and clients, but in general, it is best to leave out extraneous information whenever possible. Keeping the layout simple, clean, and straightforward will help ensure your invoices are both professional and effective.

5. Be specific.

Even the best looking, most well formatted invoice can't make up for a lack of relevant information. Clients like to know exactly what they are paying for and will often withhold payment until they do.

To avoid issues like this, it’s best for your invoice template to include an itemized breakdown of all charges, with concise but recognizable descriptions of the goods and/or services provided. Not only will this help you keep track of your own revenue streams, it will also limit confusion and provide peace of mind to your clients, who will appreciate being able to see that they're getting exactly what they paid for.

By providing these concise specifics, you’ll be able to find the right balance between cluttering your invoice template with so much information it becomes muddled and leaving it so vague that the client will have a list of questions they want answered before remitting payment.

Be specific

As we have discussed, the ultimate purpose of every invoice is to ensure your business gets paid in as timely a manner as possible. Accordingly, your specific payment terms and policies are some of the most crucial information you can include on your simple invoice template. Do you accept online credit card payments? Say so on your invoice template and stop waiting for checks to crawl their way to you through the mail. Do you offer a discount for early payments, or impose a penalty for late payments? Make these details clear, including the specific applicable dates, right on the invoice. This will increase the likelihood of receiving your invoice payments on time, and help your business maintain a stable cash flow.

With these tips and a little attention to detail, you can nail down exactly what should be included in your unique, customized invoice template. As an essential but often overlooked part of the business process, invoices provide a simple yet effective way you can set your company apart from the pack, maintain a healthy cash flow, and keep your clients informed and satisfied.