Question About Sending Invoices

For those who are self employed, run businesses or freelance, I have a question about how you invoice.

Let’s say you’re sending an invoice for a sizable project, will you do a simple line item for the project or do you add a lot of detail to your invoices?

For example:

Design annual report . . . . . $XXXX


Design annual report, show 3 cover concepts, layout interior pages, show PDF proof, alterations, stock photo research, outline photos, finalize artwork, prepare for output, deliver press quality files. . . . . $XXXX

Personally, I’ve always done the latter. In my mind, it seems like I’m justifying the price. But a one line description would save a lot of time.

Just curious what everyone else does.

I typically itemize things similarly to how things were mentioned or itemized in the contract. In the absence of that, I’ll usually break it down a bit anyway to some degree — if only to fill up space and make it seem more impressive and important that it would otherwise (I’m only partly joking about that).

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Somewhere in between the two.

Annual report design, 36 pages. Print and web versions supplied.

If there is stock photography to be reimbursed, I’ll put that on a separate line.


Right. My contract puts names to the project and its phases. Each phase has a schedule, deliverables, and a fee already associated, so the invoice line item will read: [Project name]; [Phase name] fee . . .

Then, if there was activity outside the scope predetermined by the contract (and price-negotiated on the fly), it gets added on another line with the service date and whatever descriptive language is needed to make it unmistakably ‘that thing we discussed, agreed upon, and added to the phase’.

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Yes, this too. If there are expenses that are in addition to the norm, like subcontractors, travel, photos, fonts, printing and other passed-along expenses, I’ll always create separate items on the invoice for them. These kinds of expenses are sometimes treated differently for tax purposes, so they need to be documented.


I use detail in all my billings so there’s no question from the client about what was done. The better description you have, the less chance the client will question your invoice.

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Good comments here already. Also, I invoice a portion of the job up front. If it’s a new client, then usually 50% to start work. If it’s a huge job, then I might do a bit less, then invoice at different milestones. For some recurring clients, for smaller jobs, I just send an invoice at the end of the job.

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