How to Design an Invoice | Step-By-Step Guide to Professional Invoices
To design an invoice, small businesses need to create a professional-looking invoice template. A well-designed invoice will reflect well on your brand and can help motivate clients to pay quickly with a clean, easy-to-read invoicing format.
Here are the invoice design basics you’ll need to know to make professional invoices:
How to Design an Invoice
Here are the steps small businesses should follow to design clean-looking invoices that get you paid on time:
1. Design the Invoice Structure
Take time before diving into invoice design to plan out the structure of your invoice template. You’ll want to design it to fit within the standard margins of an 8.5 x 11” page. Although most clients will leave your invoices in digital format, you want to make it easy for any clients who choose to print out the documents you send them. Create space for all the important information you’ll include in your invoice: a header, space for your client’s contact details, an itemized list of your services, and payment terms and deadlines.
2. Include Your Brand and Style
Invoices aren’t just dull business documents, they’re an opportunity to convey the personality and professionalism of your brand. This is especially important if you’re in a design-focused industry, like a graphic designer or web designer, but all small businesses should have consistent, professional branding. If you already have a business website or business cards created, you may want to design your invoice to align with your existing marketing materials in terms of fonts, logos and colors.
3. Make the Information Readable
The most important element of your invoice design is that it allows clients to quickly and easily get all the information they need to plan for your payment. Readability is key. Consider designing a simple grid for your itemized descriptions that includes separate columns for each piece of information. Smart use of color can help make the most important information pop from the grid, like in this invoice design example from Canva:
4. Leave Room for Descriptions
If you do decide to design your invoice with a grid for your services, you may want to include extra rows in the grid dedicated to your service descriptions, especially if the work you provide clients is complex and warrants more lengthy descriptions. The invoice design example below from Hongkiat offers inspiration for how you can allow for longer text descriptions of your services while maintaining a clean, readable design:
5. Make Deadlines and Payment Totals Stand Out
Your invoice amount due and the payment due date are two of the most important pieces of information you’ll include in your design, as they let your clients know how much they owe and the date by which they need to pay you for your services. If those two pieces of information are clear and stand out from the other information, it can help motivate clients to pay you faster. It’s a good idea to make both the deadline and payment totals bold and display them in a large font. You can also create an invoice design that makes this information stand apart from the rest of the invoice, like in this invoice design example from Digital Synopsis which uses color blocking, large fonts and bolded text to make the payment information pop:
6. Clearly State Payment Terms
Your payment terms shouldn’t be the most prominent information conveyed in your invoice design, but it’s important to make space in your design for your payment terms, so you can state the payment methods you accept and outline any late fees you may charge. You can also include a friendly thank-you note with your payment terms to show your clients you appreciate their business. In this invoice design example from Hongkiat, the payment terms are written in a subtle footer and include a word of thanks:
Invoice Design Theory 101
There are three pieces of information you want to make sure your clients notice at a glance as soon as they open your invoice:
- Who the invoice is from
- How much money they owe
- When they need to make the payment by
Everything else you include in the design of your invoice is secondary. You may want to treat those three pieces of information in a consistent way, so that they appear cohesive while standing apart from everything else. You can do that by using a consistent font color that contrasts with the background color and by making those elements bolder and larger than everything else on the page.
What Does a Professional Invoice Look Like?
A professional invoice has a clean, readable design and conveys all the important information a client needs to make a payment. This is the information that needs to be included on a professional invoice:
- The business’s name and contact details with a logo, if applicable
- The client’s name and contact details
- An invoice number
- A payment due date
- A detailed list of services provided with descriptions, quantities, rates and subtotals
- The total amount due on the invoice
- The payment terms
For a detailed description of how to create an invoice, check out this invoicing guide for small businesses and freelancers.