QuickBooks’ structure is universal enough to appeal to millions of small businesses. But not all small businesses are alike. Custom fields help you shape it to meet your company’s unique needs.
If you’re using QuickBooks, you probably know that you’re complying with the rules of double-entry accounting. The software is designed such that you can be compliant with these requirements without even being aware of it. You’re dealing with invoices, purchase orders, bank account reconciliation, bill-paying, and payroll; not debits and credits and journal entries. QuickBooks does the double-entry part for you in the background.
While every business that uses QuickBooks is following those same double-entry accounting rules, each has its own unique structure and its own need to modify some elements of the program to do certain tasks, for example:
- Store more specific information about customers, vendors, and employees in their records,
- Differentiate between variations of similar inventory items, and,
- Create more targeted reports.
This is where custom fields come in.
Defining Custom Fields
One of the ways QuickBooks simplifies your life is by providing pre-designed record and form templates. Need to create an invoice? There’s a form that already contains the most commonly-used data fields; you just fill in the blanks or select from drop-down lists. Want to store information about your customers and about the items you sell? Ditto.
But sometimes you need more fields than QuickBooks offers on a record or form. When this is the case, you can easily add your own. QuickBooks allows you to create custom fields for the following:
- Customer List
- Vendor List
- Employee List
- Items List
For the Customer, Vendor, and Employee Lists in QuickBooks Pro & Premier, you can add a maximum of 7 custom fields to each of these lists, not to exceed a total limit of 15 custom fields for all three lists together. Enterprise gives you the ability to create additional custom fields. You’re allowed to define up to five custom fields for your Items List, again with Enterprise offering the ability to create additional custom fields.
This type of modification is easy to do, but it’s critical you think carefully about what fields you should add. You don’t want to learn several months down the road that a custom field you created isn’t really necessary and two more are needed, for example. This is especially important when you’re creating records for inventory items.
You may want to schedule some time to go over this (and to explore QuickBooks’ item-tracking features if you’re new to managing inventory) with someone well versed in QuickBooks and small business accounting workflow. You can change custom field names down the road, but you need to understand how this will affect your data if you do so.
Let’s say you want to add some custom fields to your customer records. Open the Customer Center by clicking the tab in the left vertical pane or opening the Customers menu in the top navigation bar and clicking on Customer Center. Double-click on a customer or click on the small pencil icon in the upper right. The Edit Customer window opens.
Click on the Additional Info tab on the left and then on the Define Fields button in the lower right. The Set up Custom Fields for Names window opens, as pictured below.
Click in the first column, under Label. Enter the name of the field as you would like it to appear in records and reports. Then click in the box or boxes below Cust, Vend, or Empl to designate which list you would like the custom field to apply to (Customer, Vendor, or Employee). If you want to use the same field in more than one record type, enter a check mark in each appropriate box. Continue to enter field names until you’re done, then click OK.
Now, when you create a customer record you will be able to enter information into the Custom Field(s) you created. And your new fields will appear as filters in some reports.
You’ll follow a similar set of steps when you create custom fields for Items in QuickBooks. Open the Lists menu and select Item List. Double-click on any item to open the Edit Item window. Click the Custom Fields bar on the right, then Define Fields. If your company sells a lot of products with multiple variations, be sure to give a lot of thought to what fields are needed.
Personalizing your copy of QuickBooks by adding custom fields can provide a big advantage to your business. However, this major structural change requires a lot of thought and planning up front to ensure your custom fields will be beneficial and not an unnecessary frustration down the road.
Contact us for help defining your own custom fields in QuickBooks.