Invoices can be tricky to understand. As a freelancer, I would know. I fondly remember sending my first invoices to video game media sites, wondering what a line item was. I'd ask myself, "why do I have to fill out all this information to get paid?"
The truth is, invoices are just a way to record the hard work you've done and ask for payment. Use a reliable basic invoice template to get all the details right, so you can get paid correctly and on time.
Here's a simple invoice template to help you bill your customers. Make a copy, and you'll be able to create an invoice on any device with Google Docs. Now let's go over how to use this template and keep your invoicing process smooth.
Start by making a copy of this editable invoice template. It's in Google Docs, but when you're done, you can download it as a PDF or any other format required.
How to fill out your invoice template
This is a standard invoice for small businesses and freelancers, meaning you use it when you want to get paid for your goods and services. It works well for general invoicing, but not so much for a specialized invoice like a credit or debit invoice.
Invoice title and logo
Your invoice should include a clear "Invoice" title in case you need to use your invoice for legal documentation. It'll help you keep your invoices straight from other documents, too.
You can also include a logo if you want, but it's not necessary. Place your logo under the "Invoice" title or create a borderless table to put it on the right of the header.
Your business name and contact information
Make sure your invoice includes your full business name—or your name if you're a contractor. Add your contact information, including your address, email address, and phone number. Include these details for your and your client's accounting and legal documentation.
Buyer's name and contact information
Enter your client's name and contact information here. Include as much contact information as you have, and don't be afraid to ask your client if you need more details. If you're billing a specific person at a company, you can list the business name, then the person's name.
Each of your invoices should have a unique identifying number for easier tracking. It doesn't have to be anything profound if you have a simple billing system.
For example, I use the date of the invoice and the order of the invoices I send that day. The first invoice sent on 9/6/2022 would have the number "09062201," and the second would have "09062202." Find a numbering system that works for you.
Add the date that you send the invoice. (Keep this in mind especially when you create invoices in advance.)
If you're billing a client in another country, use a date format that makes sense for both of you. The template has the American MM/DD/YYYY format, but feel free to write out the month in the date for clarity. In other words, you could enter the date as "September 6, 2022" instead of "9/6/2022."
Payment due date
Here's where you list when your client's payment is due. Payment terms vary among industries, but here are some common ones:
Net 30/60/90: "Net" followed by a number means that the buyer should pay within that number of days, regardless of business days or holidays. A net 30 invoice sent on February 28 would have payment due on March 30.
End of month (EOM): Some businesses combine net payment terms with "EOM," meaning payment is due that many days after the last day of the month. A net 30 EOM invoice sent on March 15 would have payment due on April 30.
On receipt: The buyer should pay the invoice as soon as they receive it.
If you aren't sure what payment terms to use for your invoice, ask a fellow freelancer or business owner in your industry. Still building connections? Join an online community for your profession and ask around.
In this section, you describe and quantify the products and services you're billing for. If you deal in services, there's some leeway in how you create line items. You could make one for each project, project component, or add-on service.
Your line item format might also differ among clients, even if you're offering the same service. For example, I've billed a retainer client for "Work for February 2022" as a single line item. Meanwhile, I'll list individual line items for each blog post I write for other clients.
Each line item on the template includes these sections:
Item description: A quick description of the product or service you're billing for.
Quantity: The number of that item you provided.
Price per unit: The price per individual item. (For example, if you're billing for two blog posts, list the price for one blog post here. You'll do the math in the next category.)
Total amount per line: Multiply the price per unit by quantity to get your line total.
This is the total amount of your line item charges before taxes, discounts, or additional fees.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may have to include taxes in your transaction. List the percentage tax you're adding and how much that percentage adds up to. Feel free to delete this table row if you never charge taxes.
Fees and discounts
Put any fees and discounts here, such as a late fee or early payment discount. If you'd like to add another fee or discount, right-click on the table cell and choose Insert row below.
Here's where you add up your subtotal, taxes, fees, and discounts to the total your client owes you. This is the amount of money your client will pay you.
Terms and conditions
Note any additional terms and conditions here. Some examples include:
Payment terms, including net 30/60/90, EOM, payment on receipt, and payment in advance
Terms of sale, such as who covers taxes and duties
Late payment fees
Discounts for early payment
Accepted payment methods
When do you need to send an invoice?
You should send an invoice after you complete a billable project. Depending on your and your client's preferences, you might send one right after completion, every two weeks, or every month.
With invoice timing varying based on client and project, don't let yourself forget to send one. Use Zapier to automatically fill out an invoice when you mark a task done in your favorite project management app.
Tips for smooth invoicing
Once you finish filling out your template, there's more you can do to ensure a smooth invoicing process. Try following these tips to raise your chance of getting paid on time:
Communicate your preferred payment terms with your client at the beginning of your working relationship. Include them in your contract or statement of work.
Don't slack on organizing your invoices. Designate a digital or real-life folder for invoices with sub-folders for each client. Within each folder, organize your invoices by invoice number or date.
Talk to your client about payment methods that will work best for both of you. Payment services like PayPal and card payments often have extra fees for the seller. Meanwhile, electronic bank payments don't charge the seller, but they take extra work on the client's end.
Send your invoice in the correct format. PDF is usually the agreed-upon format for online invoicing. In Google Docs, go to File > Download > PDF Document (.pdf) to download your invoice as a PDF.
Don't be afraid to follow up with a client if they don't pay within your agreed-upon payment period. You aren't being pushy for asking for the money you're owed.
Automate your invoicing process with Zapier. Zapier helps you simplify every aspect of invoicing, including logging your invoices, knowing when you get paid, and managing your contacts.
Try an invoicing app
If you find yourself creating a lot of invoices from this Google Docs invoice template, it might be time to try a purpose-built invoicing app. Here are some lists to help you pick one that might work for you: