An invoice is a customer’s bill for a sale after goods or services have been delivered but before payment has been made. Accounting software is the best way to create and send an invoice but typically costs a monthly fee. To help, we have a free, downloadable free invoice template in Excel, PDF, and Word.
If you create more than 10 invoices a month, you can use an invoicing software like QuickBooks Online to create and send invoices and get paid on time. Prices range start at $20 per month and you can even get a free 30-day trial so there’s no risk.
Free Invoice Template to Download
If you create less than 10 customer invoices per month you might not have enough customer transactions to warrant QuickBooks or QuickBooks alternative like Xero. Instead, a customizable invoice template might work best. There are many templates available and they typically come in the form of a free invoice template Excel, Word, or PDF file.
Download our free Excel, PDF, and Word invoice templates below:
What’s Included in the Free Invoice Template
Our free invoice templates include customizable fields where you can add your company logo, the customer’s bill to and ship to info, payment terms, and due date fields. These fields will automatically calculate the total amount due and any applicable discounts and sales tax.
Below is a snapshot of a completed free invoice template along with brief instructions for each field. Take a look at each of the numbers on the snapshot and then read the corresponding explanation. This should help you better understand the invoice template and help you customize it to your exact needs.
Below is a brief description of each field in the (above) invoice template:
- Business Logo: Upload your business logo in this field. If you don’t have a logo, then read our article on business logo design to learn how to create one for your business.
- Business Name: Add your business name in this field. For some tips on how to name a business, read our ultimate guide on business names.
- Invoice Date: The invoice date is the date you generate and send the invoice to your customer.
- Invoice Number: The invoice number is a unique number that you assign manually or that your accounting software will generate for each invoice. Having this reference number will help you to apply payments received to the right invoices. It also helps deal with customer billing questions because you can quickly look their invoice up.
- Bill To: Include the customer’s billing address in this field.
- Ship To: Include the customer’s shipping address in this field if you are shipping products to your customer; otherwise you can just leave it blank.
- Shipping Method: If shipping products, indicate how the product was shipped (e.g., UPS, FedEx, or USPS).
- Shipping Terms: If you are shipping products, then based on your agreement with your customer, you need to indicate either FOB Shipping Point or FOB Destination. To learn more, read our article on the significance of fob shipping point and fob destination.
- Delivery Date: Indicate the expected date that the product should arrive at the customer’s destination in this field.
- Payment Terms: Payment terms is the length of time you give your customer to pay you. Take a few minutes to read our article on the best invoice terms for your business. You may also opt to charge your customer a late fee if they don’t pay the invoice on time.
- Due Date: The due date is when payment is due from the customer. To get paid faster, you should consider offering early payment discounts.
- Purchase Order Number: Some companies must get approval before purchasing products or services. Typically, if you work with schools or any government agency, they must complete a purchase order before they’re allowed to place an order. To make sure payment is not delayed, you must include the purchase order number on the invoice.
- Quantity: Enter the quantity of product sold for items or the number of hours if you are billing by the hour.
- Item Number: If you have products with unique item numbers, enter them in this field. Otherwise, if the products you sell do not have items numbers or if you sell services, you can leave this field blank.
- Description: Enter the description of the products and/or services for which you’re creating the bill in this field. Be as detailed as you can here so the customer knows exactly what you are billing them for (e.g., stainless steel faucets).
- Unit Price: Enter the per unit cost of the product or service sold in this field.
- Line Total: The Excel invoice template will automatically multiply the quantity column and the unit price column to get this line total. However, you will have to manually calculate this total if you are using the Word or PDF templates.
- Discount (if applicable): If you want to apply a discount to the Excel invoice template, then you can do so as a percentage. The formula (indicated below) will automatically calculate the discount and deduct it from the overall total amount due. You can also set it as a flat amount. For PDF and Word, you’ll have to manually calculate discounts and enter them into the template.
- Subtotal: This is the total amount due before discounts and sales tax are applied.
- Sales Tax (if applicable): Enter the sales tax rate (without the %) that you charge and the Excel template will automatically calculate the sales tax amount before the discount (if any) is applied. The sales tax amount will be added to the total amount due as indicated below:
- Total Amount Due: Add up each line item total, sales tax, and the discount totals to calculate the total amount due. The free invoice template Excel will automatically calculate the total amount due for you, whereas you will need to complete this calculation manually for the Word and PDF templates.
- Late Fees & Penalties: If you want to apply late fees or penalties, you could add them underneath the products and services items and then just type in a flat amount or base it on a percentage of the overall amount due. (e.g., 1%).
- Your Business Info: Your mailing address is located at the bottom of the invoice so that customers are aware of the forms of payment you accept. For instance, you could provide customers the option to pay online or by phone with a credit card. To learn more, read our article on how to accept credit card payments.
You should provide your contact info if customers have questions as indicated in the screen shot below:
Accounting Software vs Free Invoice Templates
There are several differences between using accounting software vs free invoice templates.
First, accounting software will do all of the calculations for you — no manual calculations or formulas are required like they are with invoice templates. Second, accounting software also makes it easy to create invoices quickly because you can select the product or service you are billing for from a drop down whereas you will have to manually type this information in each time you complete a free invoice template.
There are pros and cons to using accounting software and invoice templates. While it’s easiest to create and send invoices with accounting software, it can be more costly. Invoice templates are free and if you are familiar with Word, Excel or PDF you can create an invoice template right away without having to learn how to use the software.
Pros and Cons of Creating Invoices Using Accounting Software
There are pros and cons to creating invoices using accounting software. Most programs allow you to customize invoices to include your company logo and brand colors. Plus, you never have to worry about whether the calculations are correct because the program does it for you. Unlike free invoice templates, you will have to pay a fee to use most accounting software programs and invoice templates are more prone to errors.
The pros and cons of using accounting software to create invoices are:
Pros of Using Accounting Software to Create Invoice Templates
The pros of creating invoices using accounting software are:
- Includes preset templates: All accounting software programs have preset invoice templates you can choose from.
- Ability to personalize templates: Some accounting programs like QuickBooks Online let you customize the look and feel of the invoice, including column headings and positioning and where your company logo appears on the invoice.
- Software automatically calculates: All accounting software programs automatically calculate the invoice totals for you.
- Generate reports: Up-to-date reports that provide you with detailed information about customer sales, expenses and overall business health.
- Up-to-date A/R balances: When a customer pays you, you can easily mark the invoice as paid, which automatically updates your accounts receivable balances.
Cons of Using Accounting Software to Create Invoice Templates
The cons of creating invoices using accounting software are:
- Fewer Templates: You have access to fewer templates when compared to Excel, Word, or PDF.
- A Cost to Use: In general, most accounting software involves a one time or monthly fee to use unless you go with a free accounting software option like Wave.
Pros and Cons of Creating Invoices with Excel
If you create less than 10 customer invoices per month and you don’t have many expenses to keep track of, then Excel is a good fit if you decide not to use an accounting software program. On the pros side, Excel has more templates to choose from than accounting software. However, you have to manually create invoices in Excel which is more prone to errors.
The pros and cons of using Excel to create invoice templates are:
Pros of Creating Invoice Templates With Excel
The pros of creating invoice templates with Excel are:
- More templates to choose from: Access to 200 customizable invoice templates from the Microsoft library.
- Automatic calculations: Create formulas so that certain columns like total amount will automatically calculate when compared to Word or PDF.
- Easy to organize: Create an Excel workbook for each customer so you can keep track of all their invoices in one Excel file. If your customer calls with a question, you can quickly open their file and look up the information you need.
Cons of Creating Invoice Templates with Excel
The cons of creating invoice templates with Excel are:
- Requires manual setup: Using an Excel template is a manual process to set up.
- Basic understanding of Excel: While you don’t need to be an Excel guru, it helps if you understand the basics of creating formulas, worksheets, and workbooks.
- More prone to errors: It’s easy to make mistakes when it comes to calculations if you make a mistake in creating the formula or you transpose a number when manually entering it into the spreadsheet.
Pros and Cons of Creating Invoices with PDF
Similar to creating invoices with accounting software and Excel, there are also pros and cons of creating PDF invoices. On the pros side, there usually isn’t a cost involved with using Adobe Acrobat and the PDF templates tend to have a more professional look than Excel and Word.
The pros and cons of using PDF to create invoice templates are:
Pros of Creating Invoice Templates with PDF
The pros of creating invoices with PDF are:
- Program is free: You can generally download Adobe Acrobat for free to access PDF documents.
- Customers can easily view invoice: Most of your customers will have access to Adobe Acrobat so it will be easy for them to view the invoice once you have emailed it to them.
- Create professional looking invoices: PDF templates (like the one we have provided) can have editable fields that cannot be customized but provide you with a more professional look when compared to a Word template.
Cons of Creating Invoice Templates with PDF
The cons of creating invoices with PDF are:
- Manual setup process: Similar to Word and Excel, it is a manual process to set up.
- More prone to errors: It is easy to make a mistake when manually entering data.
- Difficult to organize: You can’t create a workbook of invoices like you can in Excel.
Pros and Cons of Creating Invoice Templates with Microsoft Word
While creating invoices with Microsoft Word is not recommended over using accounting software or Excel, there are a few pros to using the program. For example, you will have access to over 200 templates versus a few with accounting software. Plus, there is much more flexibility when it comes to customizing the look and the feel of Word templates.
The pros and cons of creating invoices with Microsoft Word are:
Pros of Creating Invoices with Microsoft Word
- Larger template library: Access to over 200 templates from the Microsoft library so that you don’t have to start from scratch.
- Customize for your brand: Customize the templates with your company logo and contact info.
- Easier to customize look and feel of template: You can add/delete columns of information to customize it for your business needs.
Cons of Creating Invoices with Microsoft Word
- Time consuming setup process: Creating Word templates is a manual process like creating Excel and PDF templates.
- Subject to more errors: Unlike Excel, there is no way to add formulas to calculate discounts, sales tax, and subtotals. However, you can manually add discounts, sales tax and subtotals to invoices created with Microsoft Word.
- Hard to organize files electronically: You can’t create a workbook for each customer in Word like you can using Excel which means you will have to create a different filing system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Free Invoice Templates
We have included the most frequently asked questions about free invoice templates in this section. If you don’t see your question, visit our Fit Small Business Forum and post your question there. An industry expert (like myself) will promptly respond to your question.
The most frequently asked questions about free invoice templates are:
How do I create a free invoice?
There is no need for you to create a free invoice template from scratch. In our free invoice template article, we provide you with a free Excel, Word, or PDF template. You can download these templates for free and customize them by adding your business logo, business address, email, and website information.
Does Word have invoice templates?
Microsoft Word has over 200 invoice templates to choose from. In fact, started with a Word template and customize it with the fields most small business owners need. Download your free Word template and personalize it for your business needs.
How Do You Write An Invoice to Get Paid?
Writing an invoice to get paid involves personalizing the invoice with your business logo and contact details. Plus including a detailed description of the products and services sold. Be sure to add all applicable discounts and sales tax calculations. Check out our Invoice guide for the seven steps to writing an invoice.
If possible, it’s a great idea to use accounting software like QuickBooks Online to invoice your customers. If you are not able to use an accounting software program right away, go with a free Excel invoice template so you can minimize calculation errors and keep each customer’s invoices organized and in one file. If all else fails, use a PDF or Word document.
If you create over 10 invoices a month, use an accounting software like QuickBooks Online to invoice customers and get paid on time rather than a free invoice template. You can also track your expenses and run financial reports in QuickBooks. Pricing starts at $20 per month and the first 30 days are free.