Estimate Format and Generator

Estimate Invoice highlights

free estimate templateSimilar to our invoice templates, we’ve put in quite a bit of effort to make sure that our estimate templates look great.

  • Completely free, blank estimate template ready to send to clients
  • Fully customizable
  • Professional format with all essential estimate elements
  • Automatic formulas for calculating totals, taxes…

What’s the difference between an Estimate and an Invoice?

Invoices are a written agreement verifying the exchange between the buyer and seller, which establish an obligation to pay on the part of the buyer. Estimates are only a rough quote of costs while invoices include actual costs of a transaction.

With estimates (sometimes called quotes) you’re predicting how much a project may cost or how long it will take to complete. There’s no legal obligation to stick to those predictions once your client has agreed to work with you, however customers won’t like it if your final invoice differs too much from your initial quoted price. Because of this it’s best to give realistic time and cost estimates.

What about quotes?

Quotes, pricing quotes or sales quotes are very similar to estimates. The difference is that quotes are for fixed cost projects, whereas estimates are more of a ‘educated guess’.

When you give out a quote you’re committing to sticking to that price. Even if you end up putting more time in than you expected. On the other hand with an estimate, it’s understood that the end price may differ as the scope of the project becomes clearer.

Which people use really depends on your industry and type of work you do. For example graphic designers and photographers typically give out quotes. On the other hand construction companies and programmers give out estimates.

As a document quotes and estimates are essentially the same. They both contain the same sections and information.

If you prefer to give out quotes, then we’ve got you covered. Check out our dedicated quote template page. The templates are the same as the estimate templates here, except they say ‘quote’ in various places.

What to include on an estimate

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to include in your estimates:

  • Standard info: date, estimate number (for organizing and future reference), company info
  • Line items: break down the different parts of the project. Try to be as descriptive as possible with these. This section usually makes up the bulk of the project. A few possible line item types:
    • Number of hours required to complete a task.
    • Materials or equipment.
    • Licenses and fees. For example if you’re working on building renovations, the local city council may require an inspection of your plans and materials before you get started.
  • How long the estimate is valid for. Prices for materials and workers may change over time, so you should always include an ‘expiry’ for your estimate.
  • Project timeline. Customers usually ask for quotes for projects that take more than one day. Because of this it’s always useful to write how long the project usually takes.
  • Deposit and payment requirements. Similar to the above point, estimates are only given for larger projects. Because of this it’s normal to ask for some sort of deposit or incremental payments (e.g: 30% at start, 30% at half way point, 40% after handoff).

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