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Pro forma is a legal Latin phrase meaning “as a matter of form”. In practice, the phrase usually refers to an act or document which is preliminary or satisfies the minimum requirements in a perfunctory manner. The meaning of the phrase can differ depending on the context in which it is used. In business, a pro forma document is provided before an actual transaction takes place. A pro forma document can refer to any preliminary or partially completed document which is designed to be replaced by a more detailed document in the future. A pro forma invoice is used to evidence a sale and is sent in advance of the actual, commercial invoice. A pro forma session of the legislature often refers to a meeting which has to take place under governmental rules but at which no formal business is discussed.

“The company’s projected balance sheet, based solely on analysis and assumptions, is merely a pro forma document to be replaced shortly by the actual balance sheet.”