In layman's terms, there are basically 2 types of PDF:
- System-generated PDFs, and
- Scan-based PDFs
Invitbox loves system-generated PDFs!
System-generated PDFs are those that have been generated by a computer system or a software suite, not a scanner.
Nearly every accountancy system, sales system, ERP or invoicing software in the world can generate a PDF. These "system-generated" PDFs carry an invisible layer of code called metadata, and it is this metadata that invitbox extracts from your bills.
Scans on the other hand are just images, and even if you save the scan as a PDF as opposed to a JPG for example, it is still an image file. It is not a true PDF. It doesn't carry metadata.
So how do you produce system-generated PDFs?
It may seem obvious, but to produce a system generated PDF, you will need a system of some sort.
Accountancy systems such as QuickBooks Online (QBO), MYOB, Xero, Saasu, Sage, etc have been producing bills in PDF format for years. The same goes for most inventory, point-of-sale and ERP systems. Simply refer to your system user guides to learn how to send bills as PDFs.
Some older systems may not have the ability to create a PDF built into them, but thankfully there are a lot of PDF printers that are available to do the job for you. Most are free. These PDF printers can be downloaded from the Internet and installed onto your computers or systems. To create a PDF document when printing, you simply select the PDF printer as your printer option as opposed to selecting a traditional paper printer. It really is that simple. You now have a system generated PDF.
There are two that we recommend (without accepting any liability on your behalf of course)
- CutePDF for windows-based systems
- Printfil for DOS-based systems
However you should consult with your IT department or supplier for more options and to get a better understanding of what works best for your system.
But what if you don't even have accountancy or sales/ERP software?
The good news is that there are now LOTS of free (or nearly free) softwares that you can download onto your iphone, Android device, Windows mobile device or tablet. One that we recommend is an app called invoice2go. At the time of writing this it starts at $0 (free) with annual plans from $49.
There are plenty of others out there so feel free to shop around to see what works best for you.
The last option is one that we do not recommend, but technically its an option. And that is to use Microsoft Word or Excel, and then simply print a PDF from there.
The reason that we do not recommend it is that Word and Excel were not designed for this purpose. If you really REALLY must use them, we recommend that you use one of these Microsoft templates, here (for Word) or here (for Excel).
But a few words of warning;
Firstly, if you are keying in data please use the TAB key and not lots of space keys.
But secondly, and most critical is that you do NOT use a date format with a "th", "st", or "rd" after the day (for eg 20th or 23rd). We suggest you use this format: 20-JAN-2013 or similar.
You're wondering why?? Well in Word, if you type for eg '12th' you will see that the "th" becomes smaller in font. The result is that the date will now break into pieces over 3 nodes, and not one (this happens in the metadata that you don't see). So please use either of the following formats for date;
20 JAN 2013
You also need to make sure that your data does not shift depending on the length of descriptions etc. For eg when you have columns such as Prod Code:Description:Qty:Price and so on, you need to make sure that the column widths are set and won't ever move. So if you have for eg a description that is longer than usual, you dont want it to cause that column to grow in width, otherwise the next column will be in a different position and the next and so on. This means the map created for it will not work on it anymore, as it cant find the info in the position it should be in.
NOTE - invitbox will be able to recognise the US format of MM/DD/YYYY on foreign invoices