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Anatomy of a good, professional invoice.

We are often asked "What is a good invoice anyways?" This can be subjective, but generally good professional services invoices have the attributes defined below. We've used a two page invoice to better illustrate the points.

Anatomy of a nice, professional invoice One

Who it was sent by. Your identity should always stand out and your logo, font and color theme are important in projecting that professional image.

Two

Who it is for. The name and address of the recipient should be clear. Position the name and address so that when you fold the invoice, the name and address are positioned correctly for "window" envelopes. Don't put your logo or identity nearby to avoid confusion.

Three

How much is owed and when is it due.

#1, #2 and #3 are the most important bits in terms of "hierarchy of information." In most cases that should be enough for the customer to sign off on the invoice.

Four

The invoice number, date of issue and project name or code.

Five

It is best to use alternating row colors for the line items area. Make it easy for the client to follow each line item from left to right.

Six

Page numbers are important, especially in invoices that have the total at the top (in the form of a summary like in this case), otherwise it would be easy to think that the invoice is only one page. It is best to not show the page numbers in the case of single page invoice.

Seven

In the case of a multi-page invoice, it is best to repeat your identity on each page.

Eight

On a multi-page invoice, you should always include the line items header on each page. Other than the information losing context, it looks very unprofessional.

Nine

The total (including taxes) should always be at the bottom of the last page. Each tax should be clearly listed. Some jurisdictions require you to show the tax registration number next to the tax. Avoid situations where you have a blank totals area on each page with the details on the last page or where the totals area is butted up against the last line item in the middle of the page. Both of these cases present a less than professional image.

Ten

Balance carried over from previous invoices sent to your customer.