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QuickBooks Desktop Reports to Take Advantage of

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Manually extracting data from your QuickBooks file is time-consuming and makes it impossible to have a clear picture of your business's trajectory. Take advantage of QuickBooks’ built-in reports to speed up the process.

If you’re currently using QuickBooks, you already know the extent to which it’s transformed your daily bookkeeping practices, from streamlining your invoicing process to keeping your customer and vendor records organized to accepting payments easily. But if you’re not taking advantage of QuickBooks’ built-in reports, you’re missing out on a key opportunity to leverage one of the platform's most valuable features. While you can look at lists of invoices, sales receipts, and payments without pulling a report, you can’t see critical information in a few seconds, like who owes you money and how late they are in paying. You’re not able to get an instant overview of whom you owe. You can’t call up a customer’s history instantly, and gathering this information without a report will take a considerable amount of time. These are just a few of the insights you gain from using QuickBooks reports. Beyond learning about your company’s past and present financial states, you can make better business decisions that will improve your future.

Before You Start

QuickBooks’ reports are exceptionally customizable. But before you start creating them, you should see what your general report options are. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Company Preferences (which only administrators can modify). You’ll see this window:

Before you start working with reports in QuickBooks, you should make sure their global settings represent your needs.

You can see in the image above that you can control your reports’ general settings. For example, some reports can be created on the basis of either Accrual or Cash. You can designate your preference here. Do you want the aging process to begin on the due date or transaction date? How much information should appear when Items or Accounts are displayed? What additional data should appear on your report pages (Report Title, Date Prepared, Report Basis, etc.)? You can specify your own Format or just accept the Default.

Statement of Cash Flows is an advanced report, one we don’t recommend you try to modify or analyze on your own. We can help with that when the report is needed, which is usually monthly or quarterly.

When you’re done here, click OK.

Learn What’s There

The best way to familiarize yourself with the reports that QuickBooks offers is to open the Reports menu and click Report Center. The content here is divided by type (Customers & Receivables, Sales, Purchases, etc.). Click around these lists and use the icons in each box to Run the current report, get more Info on it, mark it as one of your Faves, or view a Help file. You can choose the date range before you run it with your company’s own data.

Customizing Your Content

We mentioned before how customizable QuickBooks’ reports are. Customization options vary from report to report, but we’ll look at one example here. You’re likely to want to run Sales by Item Detail frequently to see what your most popular items are as well as what’s not doing so well. Find it in the Report Center by clicking the Sales tab, selecting it, and clicking Run. If you don’t have a lot of data in QuickBooks yet, open one of the sample files that came with the software (File | Open Previous Company).

With the report open, click Customize Report in the upper left corner to open this window:

You have tremendous control over the content that appears in your reports.

There are four tabs here. Click on each to see what your options are.

  • Display. Includes options like Report Date Range and Columns.

  • Filters. What cross-section of your QuickBooks data do you want to see? Choose a filter, and the middle column will change to reflect your options there. You can add and remove as many filters as you’d like.

  • Header/Footer. If you want to change the settings you established in Company Preferences, you can do so here.

  • Fonts & Numbers. Contains display options.

When you’ve finished customizing your report, click OK to create it. Your modified report format will not be saved unless you click Memorize and give it a name.

Two Kinds of Reports

You can customize and run most of the reports in QuickBooks by yourself. But there are several that you’ll need our help with, beyond the Statement of Cash Flows that we mentioned before. These are standard financial reports, like the Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss. Ideally, we should be generating these for you on a regular basis so you can get more actionable, deeper insight into your company’s finances. You’ll definitely need them in order to apply for a loan or seek investors, for example.

Please contact us if you want to gain a better understanding of how QuickBooks’ reports can help you make better business decisions. You can’t know where you stand without them.

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