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Accounting Best Practices, Fifth Edition by Steven M. Bragg Englewood, Colorado

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4–9. Enhance the Invoice Layout

Many companies lose sight of a simple philosophical issue involving the invoice—it is for the customer’s sole use, not theirs. This means that the company should not clutter up the invoice with excess information that the customer does not need, nor make the invoice layout so difficult to read that the customer’s accounting staff cannot enter the invoice into its computer system without a great deal of perusal. The usual result is incorrect or delayed payments.

The solution is to simplify the format and general presentation of the invoice in order to make it as simple as possible for the recipient to understand. Here are some examples of proper invoice structure:

  • Eliminate graphics and shading. Fancy images may look pretty, but if the customer is trying to scan the invoice into a document imaging system, this may result in an unreadable gray blob. Even if information is only being manually translated from the invoice to the customer’s computer system, invoice graphics will still be a distraction, and could interfere with data entry.

  • Present the invoice number as clearly as possible. Many companies put their own tracking number or document index number next to the invoice number. Customers frequently mix up these numbers, and enter the wrong number in their computer systems in place of the invoice number. If document tracking numbers must be included on an invoice, then at least keep them out of the upper right corner of the document, which is where ...

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