I work as a freelance developer. I'm starting to win some high-profile contracts now, but I'm a developer first, businessman second. I've been reading about invoicing etiquette - what to include and how to word things.

I can't find anything quite as in-depth about purchase orders. Having received a polite email with the purchase order, should I confirm receipt, and say thank you? Is that "showing weakness"?

I've read some articles this morning that saying thank you for business is a bad idea, since it weakens my position (srsly?). What's the professional, but polite course of action?

  • 5
    Wanted: Accounts Receivable Clerk - cannot show weakness.
    – user8365
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 18:51
  • 4
    First of all, make sure that your invoices meet the legal requirements. For example, if you are in the UK then there are half a dozen things that must be in the invoice or you'll be in trouble with HMRC. Probably same in other countries.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 16:05

3 Answers 3


Actually, I always say thank you for new work. I guess you don't want to over do it and look needy, but a simple thank you is polite and shows manners. The people commissioning the work are not that different to you. They just need a job done, with as little fuss as possible and are likely just following their own company protocol with regard to purchase orders and paper work etc. If you are unsure how to word things, just be respectful, polite and brief.

When it comes to invoicing communications, I am a little more formal in my communications with clients in those emails, even if I know them well. When it comes to getting paid, be polite, but not wishy washy. Always include a due date on your invoice and always chase politely, but immediately if payment is late - you will find that 'start as you mean to go on' is a good motto here.

  • 6
    I started working as a contract video engineer in the '90's, and I was too wishy-washy about late payments. It ended up causing some bad relationships with some clients. Had I been firmer earlier in the process, things would have either ended more quickly with less animosity or straightened out. Pursue late accounts diligently, but politely. Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 19:48
  • And it really isn't "a sign of weakness" to say thank you...just be assertive if they are late, etc.
    – daaxix
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 21:47

To establish a contractual relationship, you should formally acknowledge the purchase order (and therefore acceptance of their terms and conditions). It costs nothing to be polite when doing it. Without the acceptance they're actually left hanging as to whether you're really engaged, because usually the P.O. imposes additional conditions that were not present in your quote, so it's really another offer, not the acceptance of an offer.

Typically you will find a lot of boiler plate text on a purchase order that is (not surprisingly) entirely in the favor of the purchaser-- it's worth reading it and seeing just what you are agreeing to. At some point you might want to have a lawyer draft up a pro forma contract that cancels out the most egregious of that B.S. If you're in a field where large amounts of value are being handled, or safety could be an issue, you need to do that first.


Personally for me as a purchaser. The absolute main thing I want from a vendor is a positive acknowledgment of the PO. I need to know for sure 100% that when it's all said and done the ball has left my court. That's why I insist on a clear acknowledgment of the PO. This can be through an actual acknowledgment form or by the vendor just confirming it via email.

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