Well-designed reports in QuickBooks can help you understand your financial position and make better business decisions.

If you’ve already mastered the creation of records and transactions in QuickBooks, that’s great. But if you haven’t dug deeply into reports and learned what tremendous insight they can give you when they’re carefully customized, it’s time to do some serious study – or to take a QuickBooks training course.

Comprehensive customer, vendor and item records aren’t enough. They all feed into what should be the focus of your QuickBooks activity: reports. You may have already learned how to use QuickBooks’ boilerplate reports, but these just offer a starting point. It’s up to you to shape them so that they give you exactly the information you need to run your business.

We’ll go through the entire process in this article and the next few.

You can access QuickBooks reports in multiple ways. You can open the Reports menu and select one from the lists there, or click on Report Center in that menu. The latter does a mini-QuickBooks tutorial on each report framework and even offers additional reports that Intuit and other users have contributed.

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The QuickBooks Report Center shows samples and provides more information about reports included in the software, as well as posting reports that others have created. (Screen shots taken in QuickBooks 2013)

Many working screens, too, contain links to a subset of the reports available.

However you land there, select the A/R Aging Summary (under Customers & Receivables in the Reports menu). You should see a number of rows and columns filled in with data, as well as several task links in the upper part of the screen. This is QuickBooks’ default screen, the one that opens before you’ve begun to customize it.

Click the Customize Report icon to open this dialog box:

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Get used to seeing dialog boxes like this. You’ll be doing the bulk of your report customization from here.

The Display tab should be highlighted. Under REPORT DATE RANGE, you have options. You can leave it as is, with Today in the field next to Dates. Click on the arrow in that field, and the drop-down list will display numerous pre-set date ranges, like This Fiscal Quarter, Last Month and Last Fiscal Year. If none of those works for you, select the Custom options from that list. Choose dates for the From and To fields to create your own date range.

Reports will sometimes have additional options in this pane that address their own specific purpose. In this case, you can enter numbers to indicate how many days should be in each aging period and how many days the report should cover.

The next two field labels are asking how you would like your data sorted. In this case, the Default is alphabetical by customer. You could also open the drop-down menu and select Total and then choose Ascending order or Descending order, depending on whether you wanted the customers who had the highest dollar totals or lowest dollar totals first in the list.

If you make a mistake and want to return to the defaults, just click the Revert button.

 

 

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