A Newbie’s Guide To Invoice Generation On The Cheap and Easy

If you are new to the practice of invoicing: welcome! Also: I’m sorry. For almost everyone, invoicing is a necessary evil. It is a pain to detail every project and price on an invoice; it is a pain to send invoices to clients; and it is a pain to wait and hope that clients receive the invoices and pay — not to mention in full and on schedule. Yet, without invoices, you probably would never get paid at all, so there’s that.

Because you’re new, you probably aren’t sure how to make an invoice in the first place. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to make a single passable invoice — but if you have to start from scratch every time you need to invoice a client, it can quickly become a time-consuming headache. Worse, there are so many invoicing tools that cost an arm and leg to use. Whether you are making one business invoice or 20, here are a few solutions to make invoicing faster, easier, and cheaper:

Using Online Templates

Far and away, this is the easiest way to create a free invoice. Using the template at the provided link, you can generate an invoice in a matter of minutes. The template includes all the basic information you should include on a standard invoice, so unless you run a unique business, you don’t have to worry about leaving anything out. Instead of wrestling with headers and wrangling margins, you input your data, click save, and email or print your invoice as necessary. Clients can even pay you via credit card through the same service. It couldn’t be more intuitive.

Using Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word also offers invoice templates that seem to simplify the invoicing process — but because there are thousands of template options available through Microsoft Office’s online storage space, it isn’t always straightforward to create an invoice using this method. You could spend hours simply sifting through the options to find the style and format that suits your business. Worse, once you generate your invoice and send it to your client, you still need to figure out how your client will pay.

Still, for some people, Microsoft Word feels safe and comfortable. If this is you, here’s how to create an invoice in Word:

  • Under “New” in the File menu, search for invoice templates and select the one you prefer.
  • Fill in your business’s contact information in the header, including name, mailing address, phone number, email, and logo.
  • Fill in your client’s contact information, less the logo.
  • Add administrative information, to include the invoice number (which should be unique), the date prepared, and the date payment is due.
  • Add detailed descriptions of the products or services requested by your clients.
  • Break down the prices of teach discrete order, and then highlight the total due, either through bold text, boxing, or color.
  • Below the invoice, indicate how the client should make payments.

Using Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel has many of the same limitations that Microsoft Word does: too many invoice template options, not enough facilitation of payment. Still, it is a slightly better tool for invoice generation thanks to Excel’s database functions and built-in formulas. While you still need to type in the appropriate information in the right fields, most invoice templates in Excel will do the heavy financial calculations for you, so there is a slightly lower chance of error and a slightly higher chance of getting paid — assuming you send the invoice and follow up with clients correctly.

If you crave control over how every aspect of your invoices look, but you don’t care much for math, you should consider using Excel for invoicing. Here’s how:

  • As with Word, find “New” under the File menu and search for the perfect invoice template.
  • Fill the entry fields with the appropriate information, which should include your business name and contact data, the client’s name and contact data, details on the products or services rendered, logo, and payment terms.
  • Add the price and quantity of your products and services. If Excel’s template is high-quality, it should automatically populate other cells with amounts per product and total due.
  • Remember to add details that might not be included in the template, such as invoice number, client number, and dates for preparation and payment.

Initially, invoicing feels like writing in a foreign language. If you don’t have time to learn the language of invoicing, you can always rely on ready-made templates from these three sources that make generating invoices cheap and (relatively) easy.

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