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QuickBooks Custom Reporting Part 1: The Basics

QuickBooks Custom Reporting Part 1: The Basics

If you’ve used QuickBooks for a while already, you may have found yourself customizing some of the built-in reports.

  • Maybe you’ve changed the date range of a balance sheet
  • Filtered an inventory valuation detail down to a few items you needed to check,
  • Changed a profit and loss to show by quarter.

Did you know, using the same tools you may be familiar with from editing these and other reports, you can create custom reports of your own? Today we’d like to introduce you to the Custom Transaction Detail Report.
We’ll give you an overview of what options you have in report customization, which will prepare us to put the pieces together into a basic custom report.

The report we’re going to build later is called the “Custom Transaction Detail Report,” one of the most flexible and powerful transaction-based reports in QuickBooks. It can be a great way to hone your report customization skills, also. This report is accessed by

  1. Going to the “Reports” menu.
  2. Near the bottom, we have “Custom Reports.”
  3. In that menu is Transaction Detail.
    • There are other types of custom report options there as well, but we’ll focus on this one for now.

Custom Transaction Detail Report Options

When you first open the Custom Transaction Detail report, you’ll get a “modify report” window that pops up. Because this report is essentially a blank canvas, we need to give it some parameters so that QuickBooks knows what we want our report to display. There are four tabs, and we’ll start with the “Display” tab, which should be the one the window opens to.

Starting at the top here, we have some of the simpler options.

  • We can choose a date range, either one of the several predefined time periods in the list, or a custom date range that we decide the start and end of.
  • Below that, we can tell QuickBooks if this will be an accrual or cash basis report. This can have a significant impact on the data that you see in the report, so make sure you’re using the correct basis for your business, and check with your accountant if you’re unsure.
    • The default basis can be set in the company report preferences under the main “Edit” menu.
  • We can set which columns we want to see on this report.
    • You can use the search box to find the name of a column header or scroll through the list.
    • Check a column to add it to the report, uncheck a column to remove it.
    • Clicking the check mark above the list box will sort it by checked or unchecked.
    • Clicking the area next to that, above the column names, will sort by the column name.
  • To the right of the columns area, we have options to subtotal the transactions on the report
    • by units of time like week months or quarters
    • by customer or vendor
    • by accounts
    • by several other criteria.
  • Below that, we can choose how and in which direction to sort the data. QuickBooks provides a single-criteria sort
    • It’s important to note that if we have totaled by anything other than total only, the sort will likely only apply within each total.
      • So, if we total by customer and sort by debits, the report would show us a list of alphabetically-sorted customers, and under each customer or job would be a list of their related transactions, sorted by the debits.
      • The sorting would start over fresh for the list of transactions under the next customer or job.
  • The “Revert” button, in the lower-right, will undo any changes you have made to the report settings. Above that, we have a button for some “advanced options.” Available advanced options are sometimes different depending on the report. For this report, the options look like this:
  • Here, you can choose to include all relevant data, or only accounts/names/etc. with data associated. On a transaction-based report like this, there’s not much difference.
  • As for the “open balance/aging option,” we can view that as of the current date or the report date. Viewing it as of the current date is often faster and provides information as of now, but if you need to see, for example, the balances of a series of invoices as they were on a specific date, the Report Date option can be useful.

The next tab is “Filters,” which allows us to do the following:

  • narrow down the report to the transactions we want to see.
  • look at transactions
    • in a specific date range
    • those of a specific transaction type
    • those hitting specific accounts
    • using certain items
    • with specific values in a custom field
    • many other attributes

We can’t possibly go over all the filters here, but let’s look at the basics of adding a filter.

Customizing Report Filters

We can, much like the columns on the previous tab, search using the box above the list for the filter name, or we can scroll through the list to select it. Selecting a filter will change the middle section of this window to give different options based on the filter. Choosing an option besides the filter’s “all”/”any” option, or typing in a selection as in some filters such as custom fields, will add the filter to the list of current filter choices on the right.

Selecting an applied filter from the right-side list will also bring up its options, just as if we’d selected it from the main filter list.

  • You can hit the “Remove Selected Filter” button to take the filter off the report, or you can press delete on your keyboard with a filter selected to do the same.
  • The “Tell me more…” button will launch a QuickBooks Help article to give you more detailed information on the selected filter.
  • The “Revert” button will reset the report filters to their default setting. For this report, that will be just a month-to-date filter.

We won’t go into much detail on the Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers tabs. They mostly effect the visual aspects of the report, which are a matter of your personal needs and preferences.

There is one feature we want to bring to your attention that can be very useful though. On the right side of the fonts and numbers tab, we have options for how you’d like to display negative numbers. One of the options is a checkbox to toggle negative numbers appearing in bright red. This can often be very useful in scanning a large report for negative values that you’re not expecting or want to avoid, such as on an inventory valuation report.

One thing I’d like to point out here that’s not in the customization window is a feature added in newer versions. Once you’ve finished customizing the report, and are looking at the report itself, there is a toolbar at the bottom containing these items:

  • a quick toggle for accrual vs cash
  • a button to show or hide filters applied to the report.
  • the filters shown, which you can easily remove by clicking the “X” next to them
    • modify the filter by clicking its name.
      • These tools can make it a lot easier to quickly tell where a report is getting its information from.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning the ins and outs of report customization in QuickBooks, but it should help you get a basic handle on what each part of the customization options are for, and how they’re used.

Keep an eye out for part 2 of this post, where we’ll go over how to put these pieces together and build a simple report.

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