Creating Meaningful Reports in QuickBooks, Part 1

For March and April we will have a special guest Blogger – Bob Crook of Small Business Solutions.  Bob is a certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor and Intuit Premier Reseller who has over 30 years experience working with small business accounting.  If you would like to contact Bob for a consultation you can reach him at 256-337-5200.  Now, on to the good stuff!!!

You’ve probably run at least some basic reports in QuickBooks to see who’s paying you late or whether you have unpaid bills. QuickBooks makes it easy to get those answers in only a few seconds. However, to get really meaningful, targeted views of your accounting information, you’ll  want to shape your reports so that they reveal precisely what you need to know. You can do some of this on your own, but you might want to enlist the help of a QuickBooks expert to drill down even further – and to create and analyze the more complex output that some reports can provide.


The Report Center displays examples of reports you can create using your company’s own data.

Configure Preliminary Settings

As we often do when we’re starting a tutorial on a specific QuickBooks feature, we’re going to send you to the Preferences window first thing. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Reports & Graphs. With the My Preferences section open, you can instruct QuickBooks on some of the ways reports should be handled. You can choose to:

  • Have the Modify Report window open every time you create a report (to remind you to make any necessary changes first).
  • Set your Refresh options. If you always want to have the most current data displayed when you generate a report, you can tell QuickBooks to Prompt me to refresh or Refresh automatically by clicking on the button in front of the appropriate response. Choose Don’t refresh-the fastest method-if you don’t want to be interrupted when you’re working with a report. You can refresh when you’re done.
  • Draw graphs in 2D to make them run faster, and Use [black and white] patterns instead of colors to better differentiate between segments.

Each person who has access to QuickBooks can set these Preferences any way he or she wishes.

Setting Up Company Preferences


You can decide whether Aging Reports should start the aging process from the due date or the transaction date. You can also decide how you want Items and Accounts to appear in reports–if you click the Format button located directly below Default formatting for reports, you can alter their appearance, for example, by changing fonts and indicating what information should appear in the header and footer.

For other preferences, you may need our help. Do you know the difference between running Summary Reports as Accrual or Cash? Have you worked with a Statement of Cash Flows before so you can assign accounts to various sections? This is a report you should be generating and analyzing periodically.

Navigating the Report Center


The QuickBooks Reports menu

Unless you’re working with a very old version of QuickBooks, you have two options for accessing the software’s reporting functions:

  • Simply click on Reports in the left vertical pane (or on the top navigation bar) to open the Report Center or
  • Clicking on the Reports on the top navigation bar to see reports divided by category.

Next month, we’ll look at some reports and their customization options in QuickBooks.  If you would like help with QuickBooks Reporting, please call us at 256-337-5200.

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