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Create a simple invoice template in Word

Here are the basics steps involved in setting up an invoice using a Word template -- along with a sample template you can download and customize.

When it comes to performing calculations in a Word document, we tend to think of embedding or linking an Excel worksheet -- but this can be overkill. Sometimes, a better approach is simply to insert a table in a document and perform the calculations in it. Word tables have a number of applications: staffing rotas, timetables, pricing charts, quotations, and the one I use most, invoices.

It's easy to create an invoice that includes your business details, contact information, and logo, along with a table that itemizes the costs, parts, and labor; automatically calculates the totals and taxes; and presents a total amount payable. You can even include Fill-in fields to automatically prompt for customer information. Once you set up this invoice framework, save the blank form as a template, and you're in business.

To generate an invoice, you just create a new document using the template, fill in the customer information, and enter the invoice amounts in the table. You can then update the fields that calculate tax and totals and print the invoice. To help you get started, I've created a sample invoice template that you can customize to fit your needs. Let's look first at some template-building basics; then, I'll explain how to modify and use my sample template.

Laying out the heading

The first step in building an invoice template is to design the heading you want to use for it. Once you've created a heading, save it so you can use it for other marketing material, such as flyers, price lists, and announcements.


AutoText tip

One convenient way to preserve an element such as a heading is to save it as AutoText. Just select the items that make up your heading and press [Alt][F3]. When Word presents the Create AutoText dialog box, enter a name and click OK. Then, whenever you need to insert the heading in a document, just position the insertion point marker where you want the heading to appear and type the AutoText name. By default, Word will offer to auto-complete the name, and you can press [Enter] to insert the heading. If this feature is turned off, just type the AutoText name and press [F3].


Creating the body of the document

Think about the wording you're going to use in your invoice. Be careful not to fall into grammatical errors that can make you and your business look unprofessional. In my template, I used an automatic Date field so that each invoice I create from the template will be correctly dated.

Planning and inserting the table

When you're ready to add the table to your template, display the Tables And Borders toolbar. As with the other toolbars available in Word, you can switch on this one from View | Toolbars. Most of the table options can be reached from this toolbar.

Decide how many rows and columns you need in your table. You can always insert extra rows, but it is nice to start out with something you don't need to alter too much. Once you have planned the layout, click on the Insert Table button. You will see a dialog box where you can select the number of columns and rows in your new table.

Entering the calculations

Look at the Tables And Borders toolbar. There's a funny symbol at the bottom-right. This is the AutoSum button. By clicking in an empty cell below a column that will contain values, you can use this button to perform simple addition. When you click AutoSum, Word will insert the function { =SUM(ABOVE) }.

Should you wish to add a calculation for sales tax or VAT (UK), insert a formula field. First, click in the next cell down and choose Field from the Insert menu. Then, click the Formula button and enter a multiplication expression. For instance, to apply a 4 percent sales tax, enter the formula =B6*1.04 , as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

formula field

The formula multiplies the total, which, in this example, is in cell B6, by 1.04. You can alter this formula for use in your locality by changing the figure after the * symbol. For example, to apply the UK rate of sales tax (VAT, or Value Added Tax) of 15 percent, your formula would be =B6*1.15.

The cells in a Word table work in the same way as those of an Excel worksheet. The drawback is that the table does not display column and row labels. Remember that the columns are represented by letters, from left to right: A,B,C, etc. The rows are numbered from the top down. Figure B shows a table with those labels superimposed, to help you visualize this layout.

Figure B

table labels

Saving the template

When you save your invoice document, remember to save it as a Word template, with a .dot file extension. (Go to File | Save As and choose Document Template (*.dot) from the Save As Type drop-down list.) This will make it available from the File | New command.

Modifying the sample template

To put my sample invoice template to work, first open it and replace the heading and company information with your own. (To open the template for editing instead of creating a new document, you'll need to right-click on it and choose Open.)

You might find it useful to work with field codes displayed so that you don't accidentally delete any fields. You can toggle the display on and off for the entire document by pressing [Alt][F9]. Figure C shows the sample template with field codes displayed. Notice the Fill-in fields that prompt for an invoice number and customer information. Nice to have, but not essential when you create your own template.

Figure C

modifying the template

You may need to alter the calculation to reflect your own rate of tax, as discussed earlier. You may also want to modify the Fill-in field prompts to ask for different customer data. For instance, you might prompt for town, county, and post code rather than city, state, and zip code. With field codes displayed, simply edit the text that appears in quote marks within the Fill-in fields.

After you've modified the template, save it in the desired folder. If you want it to be listed with other templates when you create a new document, be sure to place it in your default location for templates.

Putting the sample template to work

When you want to raise an invoice for your personal services, open a new document using this template, fill in the customer information at the prompts, and enter the appropriate invoice charges. Select the table and press [F9] to update your calculations. Then, save and print the document and send it to your client. You can also copy the data into reminder letters, should your client fail to settle an account promptly.

14 comments
EarlSun
EarlSun

This is one of the more detailed articles about creating an invoice with MS Word. This should be useful for those who do not wish to bother with Excel and just need a simple invoice.

JohnnySeal
JohnnySeal

Great post! If you're looking for a simple way to run your online invoicing for a small business, have a look at 1ClickBusiness.Com. It's a well priced modular subscription system, extended to easy made estimates, payments and performance dashboards - even has add ons for extra functionality with all modules. Everything is cloud based and completely online, the user-interface is really friendly and the documents can be personalized and previewed before sending them with the in-app email. Free 30 trial after registration, 7 days free for add ons, no obligations!

chrispeters77
chrispeters77

Great post! Our company changed to digital invoices from papers ones and we never looked back. It saves us a lot of time and money. We use this service and it lets us create multiple recurring invoices which means we dont have to go through the tedious process of hand-crafting each individual invoice. chris

andrwryn
andrwryn

This is great if your only have to create one or a couple invoices, but becomes tedious when you have to make dozens or more. We've got a trial version of oneclick statements which lets us create dozens of invoices from one excel document. So far its been very helpful. -andy

Janet Williams
Janet Williams

Great looking invoice form guidelines to help small businesses manage their finances. I referenced these before moving onto the templates that I found here.

papgas
papgas

Why not use the one in Excel? Better, faster, complete (at least for my needs) and professional. Open excel, click on "File" and select "New..." Go under "New from template..." (at the right of the sheet) and click on "General Templates..." At the pop-up window "Templates" click on "Spreadsheet Solutions" and then on the icon "sales invoice" There you are :)

fpmg
fpmg

The biggest problem is when you have more then one table and need to reference a cell from the other table. i think there is a way to do that, but I do not know what it is

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

In cell A6 you have the word "tax" but in B6 you compute the subtotal. I think this is needlessly misleading. It would be better if there is a subtotal line, a tax line, and then a total due line. Doug

jpena
jpena

Do you have any recommended readings for someone who might want to learn more about using functions in Word? Thx, JP

Phil Haney
Phil Haney

Cell B5 should be your summing function. Cell B6 should be B5*0.04. And cell B7 should be B5+B6. (What do you do if thee are things you don't charge tax for, like labor?)

Navyman
Navyman

I'm not joking, there are a bunch of books named that. I have a few. You can try this book, I'm sure it will help.

Navyman
Navyman

Looks like you would have to make two subtotal lines or have a seperate column for non-taxable items.

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