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How to Write a Receipt


For individuals, writing a receipt could be as simple as “I.O.U.” plus a signature. But for business purposes, a receipt should be considerably more comprehensive. What needs to be included on a receipt depends on why it’s written. Is it a personal sale or a business sale?

Common Elements

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the need for a receipt, some items should always be included in a business transaction:

Date of transaction. When the exchange takes place is important for tax reasons as well as bookkeeping. The difference of one day can affect the monthly, quarterly, or yearly figures.

Amount. How much was received must be accounted for in the financial records.

Method of payment. For accounting purpose, note the method of payment. When balancing, expecting to count cash when a check or credit card was paid could throw a wrench in the works and cause unnecessary stress and delay.

Payor. Updating the account record is imperative for both long-term and short-term customers and vendors. There is little more frustrating than paying a bill and still receiving an invoice for it. Include the person or business’ full name.

Payee. Most businesses use preprinted receipt forms, whether in booklet form or computerized form. Ensure the full name of the receiving business is noted.

Receiver. Although the payment may be received on behalf of the business, the sign on the building cannot receive a payment. Note the full name of the person who physically accepted the payment.

Balance. Note if the payment finalizes a balance on an account or if it’s a partial payment. If a balance remains, note it on the receipt as a reminder and confirmation.

Non-Currency Receipts

If the transaction isn’t for payment but of delivery of goods without a bill of lading, all the above entries not payment-oriented must still be noted. In addition, annotate the following:

Description. Fully note what was received. Whenever possible, use the same item name that is displayed on the packaging or barcode. If the goods are not directly visible, make a notation “Per packaging” in case there’s difference later.

Item count. If a physical count of each item isn’t possible, note “Received in bulk. Item count to be determined.”

Purchasing Order information. To correlate the goods with an order and Account Payables’ records, note any PO number that may have been issued for that delivery.

Time of delivery. If the receiving or delivering organization requires or requests, add the actual time of delivery to the receipt.


Give at least one copy of the receipt to the deliverer. Keep at least one copy for the company records. Forward to the appropriate departments or personnel.


“An Elementary Book-Keeping with Business Forms”¬©BibiloBazaar, Inc.; by Judson Wade Shaw.

“Business Forms and Letters” (CD Edition); ¬©National Publishing Company.

Wiley Publishing, Inc.; “Bookkeeping for Dummies,” ¬©2006. By Lita Epstein.

Copyright 2009-2016

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