How do I Create the Best Invoice Layout?

B. Miller

To create the best invoice layout, begin by designing a template on your computer. You might search online for sample templates, or you may just create your own. While you are making a template, keep in mind that it is important to keep the invoice layout detailed, but simple to read and understand. You do not want people to guess at how much they owe you.

It may be beneficial to look for invoice forms that suit a particular type of business.
It may be beneficial to look for invoice forms that suit a particular type of business.

In general, the information that should be included in an invoice layout includes your name, address, and phone number; the name of the company for which you are working and their contact information; and a detailed account of the work that was done. This may be divided up by type of project or date. It may be helpful to create a table that specifies the type of work that was done, the date on which the work was completed, and the number of hours that were spent.

Of course, the most important part of an invoice layout is the amount of money that is being billed. Specify whether you are charging a flat fee for goods or services, or billing by the hour. If you bill by the hour, be prepared to show documentation stating the hours per day that you worked. This type of invoice layout is more appropriate for services being provided, such as by a freelance contractor, for example.

Another type of invoice layout might be for goods sold. This one can be much simpler, and just include the item, the price, any taxes or extra charges such as shipping, and the total amount. No matter what you are creating an invoice for, design an invoice that clearly accounts for every single charge being made. Every charge should likely have its own line, to make it clear and easy to read. Be sure to note any account credits from previous payments.

In addition, whether you print or email your invoices, make them appear professional and easy to read. Use black text and a clear font; do not use different types of fonts or unnecessary images. You may also choose to include the due date on your invoice; this depends on the type of company for which you are working, if you have worked or provided goods for them before, and the type of working relationship that you have. If you have issued a customer number or invoice number, be sure to include that on the invoice as well.

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Discussion Comments


Has anyone ever worked at a store that kept extremely complicated invoice layouts? Have you ever thought that there had to be a way to make a better invoice layout?

When I was working at a bookstore they often had huge stacks of invoices for large shipments of books they were filling, usually for schools. Often the invoices forgot to list things like which edition the school requested, or it would be lost on another page as a notation.

I also could never figure out why they didn't put the books by title, as it would have been making your order much easier to check if things were alphabetical. They used some strange coding system for pretty much everything.


With my own small business to look after, finding the best invoice layout was really contingent on what we needed as our business grew. Over the years our invoices have actually changed as we started to need more space for additional details.

When we first started out our invoice was really simple, just a standard form we picked up at a business supply store. Later on we created custom invoices so that we would have room for our own coding system and any special notations we had to make. Having our own invoices custom made was a big step for us but made organization a lot easier.


@everetra - You don’t even have to go online if you’re looking for basic templates. For a free invoice template just open up Microsoft Word and they have a variety of sample templates for things like a billing invoice, a sales invoice or what have you.


@allenJo - You can find sample invoice template examples online if you’re looking for a basic layout to get you started. In my experience, most companies will need to customize their invoices to better display the information that they need to bill for.

In our business, we face a unique problem. We sell a software package that can be customized with various modules. A customer can buy the basic package, but they can buy some extra modules and other stuff.

So the long and short of it is that no two invoices ever look the same. This is quite a challenge for “static” invoices that are basically reports, which is what you would have in Microsoft Access.

Our invoices need to be generated dynamically. The computer program needs to create it on the fly, rather than just filling in the boxes of a static report. We had one of our developers build a custom invoicing application which the sales people use to deal with this problem and it seems to work for them.


@hamje322 - That sounds like hard work. In my company we sell goods, not services, so a basic sales invoice suffices for our purposes.

This has an item number, description, quantity, unit price and total. It’s very straightforward, and at the bottom of the page an applicable sales tax is applied.

You can roll out your own system for putting together such a report, using Microsoft Access or something like that, but we have our own sales and accounting software that we use.


As a software developer I once did some work for a local security company that needed a billing system developed.

It was a complete system with reports, invoices and data entry forms. The billing invoice was one of the trickiest parts of the template to get right.

The reason is that some of their customers billed monthly, some billed quarterly and some billed annually. There was a section on the invoice – down in the billing items portion – where I needed to display the actual months for which they were being billed.

So if they were being billed yearly, the invoice had to spell out all 12 months; the same principle goes for the quarterly. This took a lot of tweaking in the code, as most invoices are usually printed out to display a single line item for each billing payment amount; this required a little more flexibility, but I got it to work.

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