In layman's terms, there are basically 2 types of PDF:
- System-generated PDFs
- Scan-based PDFs
Lightyear loves system-generated PDFs!
System-generated PDFs have been generated by a computer system or 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 Lightyear extracts from your bills.
Scans, on the other hand, are just images. 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 because it doesn't contain any 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 of which are free. These PDF printers can be downloaded from the Internet and installed on 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.
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) software that you can download onto your iPhone, Android device, Windows mobile device or tablet. One that we recommend is an app called Bookipi.
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). Please use any of the following formats for date;
20 JAN 2018
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 don't 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.
Lightyear will be able to recognise the US format of MM/DD/YYYY on foreign invoices