Invoice Vs Purchase Order

An invoice is a document issued by a seller to a buyer that requests payment for goods or services provided. It serves as a financial record of the transaction and outlines the details of the sale, including the quantity, price, and terms of payment.


The primary purpose of an invoice is to notify the buyer about the amount owed and the due date for payment. This document is essential for both the seller and the buyer as it plays a crucial role in maintaining accurate financial records and facilitating smooth business operations.


An invoice typically contains specific components that ensure clarity and accuracy in billing. These components include:

  1. Header: The header includes the word Invoice prominently displayed, along with the seller’s information such as the company name, address, and contact details. It also includes the buyer’s information, including their name and address.
  2. Invoice Number: Each invoice is assigned a unique identification number, which helps in tracking and referencing the transaction. Sequentially numbering invoices assists in organizing financial records.
  3. Date: The date of the invoice issuance is essential for both record-keeping and determining payment deadlines.
  4. Itemization: This section provides a detailed breakdown of the goods or services provided. Each line item typically includes a description, quantity, unit price, and subtotal.
  5. Total Amount: This indicates the total amount owed by the buyer, calculated by summing up all the individual line item subtotals.
  6. Taxes: If applicable, taxes such as sales tax or value-added tax (VAT) may be included as a separate line item.
  7. Payment Terms: This section specifies the due date for payment and any additional conditions related to late payment penalties or early payment discounts. Payment methods accepted by the seller are also mentioned.
  8. Terms and Conditions: In some cases, invoices may include a set of terms and conditions that outline the responsibilities and obligations of both the buyer and the seller. These terms may cover issues such as dispute resolution, warranties, or returns.

Invoice vs. Purchase Order:

While an invoice is a request for payment, a purchase order (PO) is an order sent by a buyer to a seller to initiate the purchase of goods or services. The main differences between the two are:

  1. Timing: A purchase order is typically sent by the buyer to the seller before the goods or services are provided, serving as a formal request to fulfill the order. On the other hand, an invoice is generated by the seller after the delivery of goods or completion of services, requesting payment for the agreed-upon transaction.
  2. Purpose: The primary purpose of a purchase order is to establish an agreement between the buyer and the seller regarding the specifics of the purchase, such as quantity, price, and delivery terms. Conversely, an invoice serves as a financial record and a formal request for payment.
  3. Legal Standing: Purchase orders are legally binding documents reflecting the intent to purchase, whereas invoices are considered legally enforceable requests for payment.

In conclusion, invoices are crucial financial documents used to request payment from buyers. Detailed and accurate invoices help maintain transparent financial records and facilitate the smooth functioning of business transactions. Understanding the distinction between invoices and purchase orders is essential for effective financial management and accurate record-keeping in various business contexts.

This glossary is made for freelancers and owners of small businesses. If you are looking for exact definitions you can find them in accounting textbooks.

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