Many professionals incur and bill costs to clients that include travel, lodging, auto, and other direct expenses associated with the performance of specific services. No universally accepted presentation format exists for billing costs and expenses—insight we’ve gained after speaking with hundreds of professionals over a period of 20 years.  

The approach used to present time and billing expense reports is usually determined by the preferences of individual practitioners and the relationships they have with clients. Even within firms, the methods used to present expenses can vary from one client to the next.  

That’s where effective time and billing software expense management comes in, providing users with the flexibility to adapt to clients. 

Let’s delve into the different ways to present time and billing expense reports to clients, along with the features that can help you streamline your processes and increase your profitability. 

Why does invoice presentation matter? 

Invoice presentation is an essential aspect of an accounting firm’s operations, as it can have numerous substantive impacts on their business. A well-presented invoice can:  

  • Convey a sense of professionalism and attention to detail, which can help to build trust with clients. 
  • Minimize possible confusion or disputes with clients over billing issues, which can save time and effort for both parties. 
  • Help accounting firms keep their cash flow healthy, which means the firm has a better chance of staying profitable. 

Typical examples of time and billing software expense presentation 

The most common format presents expenses in date order at the bottom of the invoice or shown in the summary total. Sometimes the summary presentation displays a listing of expenses by expense type rather than each individual expense or one grand total.   

The expenses usually follow a narrative description listing the principal services provided or a detailed listing of the time incurred. However, some invoices include expenses without time charges.  

Take a look at this expense invoice example created using Mango software: 

Time and billing invoice – expenses summarized by type

Another less common presentation intermingles expenses and slips in date order for invoices showing limited line item detail. This method is often used by forensic accountants and attorneys. Some accounting firms also use this method for their general billing presentation. Accountants accustomed to using Sage “Time Slips” often prefer this type of presentation. 

For example, when billing detailed time slips that display dates, times, and amounts, expense items can be intermingled with the time slips without much differentiation. The factors distinguishing between slips and expenses would only appear if you choose to display time slip rates and hours and, possibly, the nature of the item description.  

However, when you suppress the display of hours and rates, it can become difficult to distinguish between a time slip or an expense. Some practitioners prefer this approach: 

Time and Billing invoice – detail expense presentation

Billing hybrid expenses 

What if you want to bill the client for an expense that represents the recovery of a fixed cost? Tax software is a good example—the cost per return declines as the number of prepared returns increases.  

In this case, it is not practical or desirable to enter an expense item for each client. For example, consider a firm that provides “audit insurance” or charges an asset management fee. Billing software should track a line item for a specified amount, whether entered as an actual expense or not. 

Custom invoices for accounting professionals 

Your firm’s image is everything—from your office to your advertising, you need to present a professional identity, and your client invoices should be no different. Another feature that your billing and invoicing software should have is the ability to create custom invoices. 

Your software should include a range of template options that allow you to personalize your invoices with your firm’s branding and logo to present polished, professional presentations for your clients. 

Enhancing the client invoicing experience 

Creating client invoices can be a time-consuming process that eats into the hours you and your team could be spending on high-value work—or rather, it can eat into those hours, but it doesn’t have to 

When you turn to billing and invoicing software, though, you can increase your efficiency. The right billing and invoicing solution can take handle the heavy lifting when it comes to billing your clients, providing you with numerous billing options that streamline your processes and get back to client-facing work.  

For example, Mango Practice Management offers excellent invoicing options that include: 

  • Batch invoicing that allows you to save valuable time by creating, editing, and sending multiple invoices from one location for many different projects and clients. 
  • Manual invoicing for complete control of the line items you want your client to see in a narrative or detail-style format. It also allows you to apply discounts and payments with the click of a button. 
  • Recurring invoicing that allows you to bill the same amounts for every period to speed up the invoicing process and increase efficiency. You have the option to release time records based on a bill through date with no time records required.  
  • Retainer invoicing to generate requests for payment without affecting your current accounts receivable for the client. This feature can provide greater insight into profitability and realization on retainer projects.  

By using a software solution that allows you to create quality custom invoices for all of your clients, you’ll be able to provide them with clarity and peace of mind when the time comes to settle the bill. 

Make invoicing a breeze with Mango Practice Management 

Accounting professionals have unique needs, and Mango Practice Management was designed specifically with them in mind. With Mango, you can rest easy knowing that your firm will have the tools it needs to handle critical billing and invoicing tasks. 

From batch and recurring invoicing to retainer invoicing and fully customizable invoice templates, Mango’s robust accounting software will help you enhance client relationships, increase efficiency, and get paid faster all from one convenient platform. 

If you’re ready to take your billing and invoicing processes to the next level, contact us or request a free demo today! 


This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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