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6 tips for writing clear invoices

Why is it important to write invoices that are clear? To put it simply: because the goal of communication is understanding between those involved. Today, with current technology, we spend most of our days communicating via the written word, whether through email, SMS, or chat.

Despite the fact that we seem to be writing more than ever, is our writing actually improving? Are we always clear in our emails or messages? Is it possible to be more clear?

With invoicing, we think so. And we think it can also be easy. So we want to talk about just a few reasons it’s important to write clear invoices.

Our invoice templates help ensure your invoices are clear

To avoid confusion: there is a distinction between writing well and writing clearly. Clear writing means that it is easily understood. Writing well refers to writing in its artistic form: James Joyce’s 'Ulysses' is a well-written piece of literature.

But anyone who has tried writing their own invoices from scratch may have encountered the tedious task of researching what needs to go on an invoice, where to put it, and then trying to enter all the details in Word or Excel with weird, somewhat infuriating spacing issues and more.

Often in this battle, the focus on clarity gets lost, ending up with overly complex text that is far from the clear, professional invoice you set out to make.

Therefore, we make it easy to fill in all the important details and create as clear an invoice as possible.

6 tips to write clear invoices

We’ll take a little inspiration on writing clearly from George Orwell, who recommended five rules for writers in his essay Politics and the English Language, rules which also appear in the style guide for The Economist, known for the quality and clarity of its articles.

Adapted for the purpose of creating invoices:

Think about what you mean to write. The key to clear communication is clear thinking. Forming a clear idea in your head will make it that much easier to transfer to your invoice.

Write in complete sentences. Never take for granted that your customer will understand what you mean. Consider your customer’s point of view in the invoice and what may need extra clarification from their perspective

Never use a long word where a short one will do. The same goes for sentences. Keep sentences short and concise as much as possible.

Use the active voice (not the passive). This means avoiding phrases like ‘the repairs will be done’ and instead using ‘we will do the repairs’. The active voice communicates action, while the passive sounds static.

Avoid jargon and abbreviations. Your customer might not understand your industry jargon, abbreviations, or complex concepts in your profession. Lawyers and consultants in particular tend to use vocabulary that is uniquely their own.

Respect proper grammar and spelling. While it’s true that a misplaced comma rarely affects the clarity of a message, it can impact your professional image. Grammar mistakes are a bit more serious as they can drastically change your intended meaning.

Keep in mind that writing clearly is also more than just getting your point across, it’s also about optimising the working time of both you and your customer. A clear, concise invoice is going to be faster for you to create, and more quickly understood by your customer.

It also prevents future back-and-forths about unclear details in the invoice, saving both you and your customer time and headaches.

How Debitoor helps you write clear invoices

With Debitoor invoicing software, you can optimise the time you spend communicating with your customer.

When you create an invoice, you’ll notice that there are two sections in the invoice template for writing:

1. Notes: found on the top right, under the ‘Terms of payment’.

Add notes to your invoice in our invoice template

2. Terms: found in the lower section. Useful if more space is needed to clarify terms such as delivery or payment details.

Add additional terms to your invoice in our invoice template

Give our tips for writing clearly a try in these text boxes. But just to add a bit extra to help improve your communication with your customer, we’ve added the possibility to communicate directly from the online invoice.

When your customer receives the invoice, they can open in and write comments or messages that will appear on the right side. You are notified immediately and can respond in the same place.

This is a convenient and fast way to communicate if there are still parts of the invoice that need a bit more clarification.

As you can see, in Debitoor, we’ve put a lot of work into improving your communication with your customers.

Despite these useful features, it’s still important to write clearly in order to communicate more effectively, appear more professional, and get paid faster.