What is a pro forma invoice?

Pro forma definition:
pro forma (Latin): for the sake of form

A pro forma invoice works as an invoice draft; it lets customers know the final price and allows vendors to proceed with the work. Pro forma invoices are typically sent ahead of the completion of a service or delivery of goods. They give buyers a final sale price and sellers a better indication of future payment.

Like with invoice templates, business owners and contractors can use pro forma invoices to bring a professional edge to their customer interactions. A pro forma template can also save quite a bit of time in the long run.

If you’re ready to start creating your own invoices outside the pro forma template, try out our estimate maker for fully customizable pro forma invoices.

Customize your pro forma invoice

What are Pro Forma Invoices Used For?

Pro forma invoices operate similarly to quotes or estimates. They work as an agreement between a vendor and a customer to provide a service or product at a specific price. 

The biggest difference is that a quote or estimate work as a separate document, while a pro forma invoice can be paid as a final invoice once everything is agreed upon. Remember,  these invoices are not legally binding unless attached to a contract. 

These are a handful of business areas where a pro forma invoice would come in handy:

  • Construction: Construction business owners and managers can use pro forma invoices to detail materials, labor, time and more. The benefit is that everyone knows the cost of the project up front. 
  • Freelancing: Freelancers will sometimes use a pro forma invoice in place of a quote or estimate, since they can easily use the same format to submit a final invoice for payment. This saves the freelancer time and keeps things consistent for the client. 
  • Contracting: Contractors often have multiple line items to put into their invoice: time, materials, extra labor and more. A pro forma invoice allows contractors to simply lay everything out for the customer ahead of project completion and payment. 
  • Consulting: Unless operating under a retainer agreement, consultants will need to detail the work they complete for a client each month. A pro forma invoice template allows consultants to pitch this work and price to the client ahead of time. 

Why Are Pro Forma Templates Important?

Do you think a pro forma invoice would work well in your context? Consider using our invoice template above for an easy start. 

Pro forma templates — and invoice templates of all shapes — can give your business a leg up. These are just some of the benefits of using a free invoice template: 

  • Invoice templates save time. You don’t have to manually reenter information every time you create an invoice. Save your templates for later and replace only pertinent information. 
  • Invoice templates are easier than DIY. Whether you use Word or Google Docs, creating an invoice document from scratch can quickly become frustrating. 
  • Invoice templates help you look professional. Even if you do successfully create your invoice from scratch, it may not look as professional as templates with a business touch.
  • Invoice templates are customizable. It’s a template, not a form — you can switch out any information or blocks that you see fit. 
  • Pro forma invoice templates convert easily. You don’t have to create an entirely new document. Simply convert your pro forma invoice into a final invoice by removing the pro forma header and inserting payment instructions. 

How Can I Make a Pro Forma Invoice?

You have two options for creating an ‘invoice draft’ for your customers or clients: a pro forma invoice template or an estimate generator. Since they work as a quote or estimate, you can typically use an estimate in place of a full pro forma invoice. 

To use the invoice templates above, first decide on a format.

If you download as Word or Excel, you can simply open the template on your computer and save it as your own. If you utilize Google Docs, the link will take you to Google Drive. From there, first select ‘File’ from the top menu, then select ‘Make a copy…’. This way you’ll have your own editable copy that you can modify any time you want. 

To create your own estimate using a generator, use our estimate maker for a quick start. You can enter in your client and work information, get a link for download and save the estimate for later. Using a generator instead of a template has a handful of benefits:

  • The app saves your clients and items, having them ready for use the next time you’re making an estimate.
  • You can easily change estimates to invoices with a single click.
  • Organize your estimates without needing to put in any additional time in.
  • Use a professionally designed estimate template that’s compatible with printers and mobile devices.
  • See an overview of your business at a glance, without any effort.
  • Know when customers receive and view your estimates.

Turn a Pro Forma Invoice Into a Commercial Invoice

Once you’ve completed the work for your client or sent the products to your customers, it’s time to think about getting paid. This is when you would use what’s known as a commercial invoice — a bill complete with payment details and a due date. 

Even when using a template, it is straightforward to turn a pro forma invoice into a commercial invoice. Just take out the header indicating that it’s a draft, and put in the final agreed price with payment details.

Turn your estimate into an invoice with InvoiceSimple

pro forma invoice form

With our Estimate Maker, you can turn a pro forma invoice into a commercial invoice with a click of a button. 

Access the estimate in the app, then simply click “Make Invoice.” The action will automatically convert the estimate into an invoice within our app, giving you a new document to download or email. More questions on what a professional invoice looks like? Check out our sample invoice template to get the ball rolling. If you want to jump right into creating your own invoices, head over to our invoice generator.