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Running Reports in QuickBooks Online: Getting Started

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

You should be running reports in QuickBooks Online weekly—if not daily. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

You can accomplish much of your accounting work in QuickBooks Online by generating reports. For example, you can maintain your customer and vendor profiles, create and send transactions like invoices and sales receipts, record payments, enter and pay bills, and so much more.

While these activities are critical to running your business, if you aren't utilizing the QuickBooks Online reporting feature, you can’t know how individual functions of your business are doing, like sales and purchases. And you won't be able to tell how all of these individual pieces fit together to create a comprehensive picture of how your business is performing.

QuickBooks Online’s reports are plentiful, customizable, and easy to create. And we can't stress this enough: they’re critical to your understanding of your company’s financial state. They answer the small questions, like, "How many widgets do I need to order?" and larger, all-encompassing questions like, "Will my business make a profit this year?"

Below, we'll walk you through how best to get started with QuickBooks reports.

Getting Oriented

First, let’s review how reports are organized in QuickBooks Online. Click Reports in the toolbar. You’ll see they are divided into three categories that can be accessed by clicking the labeled tabs. Standard refers to the comprehensive list of reports that QuickBooks Online offers, displayed in related groups. Custom reports are those that you have customized and saved so that you can pull a report in the same format again in the future. And Management reports are very flexible, specialized reports that can be used by company owners and managers.

A partial view of the list of QuickBooks Online’s Standard reports

Understanding Standard Reports

The Standard Reports area is where you’ll do most—and maybe all—of your reporting work. The list of available reports is divided into 10 categories. You’re most likely to spend the majority of your time in a few of them:

  • Favorites. You’ll be able to designate reports that you run often as Favorites and access them here, at the top of the list.

  • Who owes you. These are your receivables reports. You’ll come here when you need to know, for example, who is behind on making payments to you, how much individual customers owe you, and what billable charges and time haven’t been billed.

  • Sales and customers. What’s selling and what’s not? What have individual customers been buying? Which customers have accumulated billable time?

  • What you owe. These are your payables reports. They tell you, for example, which bills you haven’t paid, the total amount of your unpaid bills (grouped by days past due), and your balances with individual vendors.

  • Expenses and vendors. What have I purchased (grouped by vendor, product, or class)? What expenses have individual vendors incurred? Do I have any open purchase orders?

The Business Overview contains advanced financial reports that we can run and analyze for you. The same goes for the For my accountant reports. Sales tax, Employees, and Payroll will be important to you if they’re applicable for your company.

Working with Individual Reports

Each individual report in QuickBooks Online has three related task options.

To open any report, you just click its title. If you want more information before you do that, just hover your cursor over the label. Click the question mark to see a brief description of the report. If you want to make the report a Favorite, click the star so it turns green. And clicking the three vertical dots opens the Customize link.

When you click the Customize link, a vertical panel slides out from the right, and the actual report is behind it, grayed out. Customization options vary from report to report. Some are quite complex, and others offer fewer options. The Sales by Customer Detail report, for example, provides a number of ways for you to modify the content of your report so it represents exactly the “slice” of data you want. So you can indicate your preferences in areas like:

  • Report period

  • Accounting method (cash or accrual)

  • Rows/columns (you can select which columns should appear and in what order, and group them by Account, Customer, Day, etc.)

  • Filter (choose the data group you want represented from several options, including Transaction Type,Product/Service, Payment Method, and Sales Rep)

Once you’ve run the report but before you save your customization, we recommend editing your header and report title to reflect your filters. This precaution will save you from mistakenly viewing a report that’s filtered further than you expected. When you're ready to save your customization, click Save customization in the upper right corner and complete the fields in the window that opens. Your modification options will then be available when you click Custom reports, so you can run it again anytime with fresh data.

You can customize QuickBooks Online’s reports in a variety of ways.

We encourage you to explore the QuickBooks Online reporting feature, as well as report modification options, so that you’re familiar with them and can pull the reports you need at any time. Let us know if you have any questions about the site’s reports, or if you need help making your use of QuickBooks Online more effective and productive.

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