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QuickBooks® Tips and Shortcuts

Here are some steps you can follow to clean up your QuickBooks data file. The shortcut section includes some tips and key strokes that will speed up your data entry.

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Clean up your chart of accounts —>
  1. Delete all unused accounts.
    1. Easiest way: go down the list, highlight each account you may not be using, hit Control D.
    2. QuickBooks® will not allow you to delete an account that you have used.
    3. You can always add it back later if you need it.
  2. Combine all duplicate accounts.
    1. For example, if you have “Phone Expense” and “Telephone Expense,” choose the name you prefer, edit the other name to match, click OK. QuickBooks® will ask if you want to merge.
      1. Be certain you do want to merge or combine the accounts into one account. It is very easy to merge and very time consuming to separate.
    2. Vendor and customer names.
      1. There should be none among your expense accounts. Chart of Account names should be generic, Telephone, not your local company’s name.
      2. You might use Vendor Names in balance sheet accounts, such as Bank Name Loan or Bank Name Savings.
  3. Account naming tips.
    1. Make your account names as short as possible. For example, change Bank Service Charges to Bank Fees. It is faster and easier to input data if you can read the entire name in the account field.
    2. As much as possible, give your accounts distinct names that start with different letters of the alphabet.
      1. Avoid accounts named: Office Rent, Office Supplies, Office Telephone, Office Parking. You have to type “Office (space)” before you can type the significant letter that finds the right account.
      2. If you want to distinguish between Office and Jobsite Expenses, then create accounts with those names and make Rent, Supplies, etc. sub-accounts. You can then type “Of colon R” for Office Rent. You will get very fast at this.
    3. QuickBooks® lets you choose if you want to use account numbers.
      1. Even when you use numbers, you can still type in the account name.
      2. If you use numbers, use at least 4 digit numbers and space the numbering out so that you have lots of holes to add numbers and keep your series order intact.
      3. It is easier to set up your numbering system if you get your account names set up first and sorted into the order you want to number them.
    4. Hide accounts you are not using.
      1. You can’t delete accounts you have used.
      2. If you are not using an account now, highlight it and Make Inactive from the Account menu at the bottom of the account window.
      3. The less you have to look at that you don’t need, the easier and faster it is to use QuickBooks®.
  4. Only make accounts to collect information you really need and remember that you can always get additional detail by drilling down and reorganizing the data.
    1. For example, set up a single Telephone account. If you want to know what you spent with each vendor, run a report on Telephone and total by vendor.
  5. Types of accounts.
    1. Resort your Chart of Accounts, choose Account, Resort List from the menu at the bottom of the account window.
    2. Your list will be in account type order: Banks, Accounts Receivable, Credit Cards, Accounts Payable, Liabilities, Equity, Income, Expense and Other Income and Expense at the end of the list.
    3. Review your expense accounts.
      1. Are any of expense accounts used solely for personal expenses?
        1. If you want to use QuickBooks® to track personal expenses, then edit your personal accounts and change to an Other Expense type. This will allow you to run a business P & L by filtering to include only Income and Expense and leaving out Other Income and Other Expense. You can get your personal expense report by filtering for just Other Income and Other Expense.
        2. Or change your personal accounts a sub-account of Owner’s Draws.
      2. Are any expense accounts really liability accounts? For example, is there an expense account named Truck Payments or Loan Payments. Edit and change to a Liability Account. Long Term Liability if more than one year, otherwise Other Current Liability.
      3. Are any expense accounts really credit card accounts? You may be able to change to Credit Card Type. You might get error messages that certain transactions, can’t be saved in that account. For example, checks can’t be saved in a Credit Card Account. It might be best to just make account inactive and start over.
        1. If you are not using the credit card feature, start now. It really works and your can reconcile your cards every month very easily.
      4. Are any expense accounts really asset accounts? Are any named “New Car,” or “2003 Truck.” Ask your CPA for guidance here. He will tell you that any purchase over some $ amount should be classified as an asset. The amount could range from $300-$1,000 depending on your business and other considerations.
      5. You can create sections of expense accounts, such as Overhead and Operations or Office and Jobsite.
        1. Create the new accounts and make the appropriate accounts sub-accounts. It’s easiest to see if you are looking at the Chart and just slid the accounts into position with the cursor over the diamond.
        2. This allows you to see on your P & L totals for operations and overhead. You can keep moving the accounts around in the Chart of Accounts until you get a P&L that gives you the information in a meaningful way for your business.
    4. Review you income accounts.
      1. Check for any income accounts mixed in with your expense accounts and reclassify. If you have an account such as “Discounts” where you post reductions in the sale price of items, it is best classified as an income account.
    5. Review bank accounts.
      1. There should be a separate account for each bank account the business has: checking, saving, CD.
      2. If there is more than one, you can make the last three digits of the account number part of the name. This makes it easier to be sure you are posting to the right account.
      3. If you operate a retail store, you should have a bank account called “Till” or “Cash Register.” Cash expenditures from the till would be recorded by writing checks from this account.
      4. You should have a “Petty Cash” account to enter items purchased with cash.
        1. A sole proprietor may keep the Petty Cash in his back pocket or her purse. It should still be treated as a bank account. Use the write checks feature when you spend money, make a deposit when you get a cash refund. This account may never be reconciled but should be cleared at the end of each year with a journal entry to an Equity Account such as Owner’s Investment.
        2. A partnership, LLC or Corporation may have a Petty Cash box. There should be a “Petty Cash” bank account in QuickBooks® for entries. It can be reconciled to the physical cash box on a regular basis.
    6. Review your asset accounts.
      1. Accounts Receivable.
        1. You should only have one A/R account, not one for each customer.
          1. Use reports to review individual customer balances. Your customer balances show in the Customer/Job List.
      2. Other Current Assets.
      3. Inventory.
        1. Generally avoid using inventory accounts unless you are going to make the effort to enter purchases and sales correctly.
        2. If you have inventory and want the value to appear on your balance sheet, you can do a physical count once a year and make a journal entry to record.
        3. If you are in a business that requires that you have an inventory asset account at the end of the year, you can still post all purchases to Cost of Goods sold and then make a single journal entry when you do a physical count to establish the inventory value at the end of the year.
      4. Other Current Assets accounts can include Utility deposits, Employee advances and Short-term loans you have made.
      5. Undeposited Funds Account and Making Bank Deposits.
        1. This is where QuickBooks® “stores” money between the time that you receive the funds by recording the customer payment and the time you take the funds to the bank.
        2. Think of it as the desk drawer you store the checks until you go to the bank.
        3. When you receive payments from a customer, QuickBooks® reduces your Accounts Receivable and increases Undeposited Funds. (It puts the check in the desk drawer.) Then when you fill out your deposit slip to take to the bank, you open the desk drawer and gather up the checks. In QuickBooks®, go to Banking, Make Deposits, choose the checks and/or cash and include it in the QuickBooks® deposit slip.
        4. Your manually-filled out deposit slip and the QuickBooks® deposit slip should match exactly. Otherwise, it will be a nightmare to reconcile your bank statement.
        5. Always be sure that any credit card payments are also deposited in QuickBooks® using the Make Deposits feature. Don’t combine any credit card payments with cash or check deposits. Also split American Express and Discover payments into separate deposits. Visa and Mastercard should be combined as they will be combined on your bank statement. Some bank statements split credit card and debit card payments as well.
      6. Fixed Assets Accounts.
        1. Fixed Assets generally include any item that will last more than a year. Use the $ break point your CPA told you determine if an item should be listed as a Fixed Asset.
        2. Depending on your business, you can have a separate account for each piece of equipment, each type of equipment (i.e.: Vehicles, Trailers, Loaders or Office and Shop) or have a single Fixed Asset Account.
        3. When you buy the asset, be sure to enter the description in the memo line.
        4. The memo line on the check will appear in the bank register. Memo line along the account information line will appear in the Fixed Asset register.
        5. Note that the text on the check memo does not appear in the asset account information, only the text in the line with the asset account name.
      7. Other Assets.
        1. You may have none or can include anything not included in other asset account types.
    7. Accounts Payable
      1. You should only have one A/P account, not one for each vendor.
      2. If you are a cash basis taxpayer and are not using the Pay Bills feature, you can make Accounts Payable inactive.
    8. Set up an Unclassified, Uncategorized, or Suspense Account.
      1. Usually an expense account.
        1. You can have one for both income and expense, just one is easier since you will be correcting entries to this account regularly.
      2. Post anything you are not sure where to post to this account.
      3. You can find it to correct later.
      4. You can keep on with your work until you have the answer and can still find the entry. Posting entries you are unsure of to the Unclassified Account allows you to finding later to complete the entry.
Clean up your vendor, customer and other name lists —>
  1. Review your Other Names List. It should include only names that do not belong on Customers, Vendors or Employee Lists.
    1. The owner’s name and any partner’s names belong on the Other Name List.
    2. Use the Other Name List any time you are unsure how to save a new name. You can always change an Other Name type to a Customer or Vendor but you cannot change Customer or Vendor name types later
    3. Utility names to facilitate using the auto-fill transaction utility such as NSF, Petty Cash belong on the Other Name list.
    4. Move remaining names to Customer or Vendor lists.
      1. If the same business is both a customer and a vendor, it should appear on both customer and vendor lists. Append _v or _c to end of name to distinguish the names.
      2. If you have entries made to a single name, run a report, modify the entries that there are the fewest of to the new name and then rename the remaining name to _v or _c as appropriate.
      3. It’s good to have both names with _v and _c so you always recognize which you’re using.
      4. It’s annoying to have to type the whole name to get to the end to add the _v or _c. Just type the first few letters to get the name, hit the End key, backspace if you have the wrong one, and change final letter.
      5. If you are just starting out, you will not have too many entries to change.
      6. If you’ve been using QuickBooks® for years, you could just change the current year. Make the older names inactive and start over with new names with the correct types this year.
  2. What’s the difference between a customer and a vendor.
    1. Customer buys from you.
    2. Vendor sells to you.
  3. Use a consistent name format.
    1. Establish a rule for how you will format names. Last name, first name is best. First name first becomes cumbersome when you have 10 Daves.
    2. Open your Vendor and Customer lists side by side. Be sure they are both sorted in order. Vendors is always sorted, you can sort Customers by clicking Customers, Resort List at the bottom of the List Window.
      1. Go down each list correcting to match your chosen format.
      2. You may get a message “That Name is being used. Would you like to merge them?” Be certain you want to merge before answering. It is easy to merge and boring to separate.
    3. Resort the list and look for duplicate companies with slightly different names.
      1. ACS, Alaska Communication Systems, AK Communication Systems.
      2. Smith, Dave and Smith, David.
      3. Use company names that start with your state name consistently, either Alaska or AK.
      4. Choose the name you want and merge until you have only one name for the same company.
  4. You can’t delete a name you’ve used but you can make it inactive if you suspect you are not going to use it again.
  5. This could take a few hours if you have lots of names. It’s  a great task for when you are stuck on the phone on hold.
Data entry shortcuts —>
  1. Add a calculator to Icon Bar from the View Menu.
  2. Use tab to move between fields on forms, shift tab moves backward through the form.
  3. Control C to copy, Control X to cut and Control V to paste, these commands also work with Word and Excel.
  4. Control D deletes the transaction and Control Delete deletes a line of the transaction.
  5. Control E to edit a transaction when it is highlighted in the register.
  6. Control R to see the register in the Customer/Job List when the customer or job is highlighted in the list.
  7. Control Q to see a report of activity for an employee when the employee is highlighted in the list.
  8. Use autofill from last transaction, set this in preferences.
  9. Use Memorized Transactions for regular monthly payments.
  10. Memorized Reports.
    1. Any report you format and use regularly should be memorized.
    2. If you are set up to use QuickBooks® to track your personal expenses, then create and memorize a business P&L and a personal P&L. Just filter the P&Ls to ordinary income and expense for the business P&L and to other income and expense for the personal.
    3. If you are using Bills, then use the Vendor Balance Summary Report, add a Paid column to the display and memorize.
    4. If you regularly reconcile certain vendor’s reports, then memorize a Vendor Balance Summary, filtered for just that vendor. It helps to change the header to include the Vendor name. This report can be edited to include a column indicating if the bill has been paid. On memorized reports, you can deleted the columns that you do not need to see. Change the title of the report to reflect the vendor's name.
  11. Set preferences for each person using QuickBooks®.
    1. Each person should have their own password and be restricted to the areas of QuickBooks® that they need to access.
    2. Review the Preferences, you can set them for each person’s style of data entry.
      1. Some people like to use the automatically place decimal point feature, for example.
Advice and tips provided on the Fathom Graphics website are not a substitute for advice from your CPA, tax preparer or attorney. We are not CPAs or attorneys and do not provide legal or tax advice.