Custom Fields in QuickBooks

Written by Charlie Russell

Every business has some sort of unique information that is important to its operation. While QuickBooks Desktop provides the places to store the basic information that every business needs, you will often find that you need to store additional data such as a customer’s vehicle registration number or the weight of an inventory item – information that QuickBooks doesn’t already accommodate. To address this QuickBooks provides us with custom fields, a way that you can define your own places to store information in the QuickBooks database. Today we’ll talk a bit about custom fields in QuickBooks and how to use them.

Custom Field Basics

Let’s take a look at some basic concepts in “custom fields” in the Windows desktop version of QuickBooks. This information applies to Pro, Premier and Enterprise.

A custom field is a user-definable field that you can create in several different lists in QuickBooks. These can be used to store information, up to 30 characters per field.  There is a limited number of custom fields available.

Once you define the custom fields in a list you can then add them to certain transactions in QuickBooks, and include them in various reports. This can be confusing at first – you can’t have a custom field in a transaction (like an invoice) without FIRST defining them in a list (like the customer list). Once you add the custom field to a transaction the transaction has its own copy of the field. If you change a value that field in the list, it doesn’t change the value you see in the transaction.

You can create custom fields in several lists:

  • Item List
  • Customer List
  • Vendor List
  • Employee List

The item list has a limit of 5 custom fields in Pro and Premier. In Enterprise (starting with V10) you can add up to 15 custom fields in the item list.

For the customer, vendor and employee lists you have a maximum of 7 custom fields for each of these lists in Pro and Premier – and an aggregate limit of 15 for all three lists together. In Enterprise (starting with V10) you can have a maximum of 12 custom fields for each of these lists, with an aggregate limit of 30 custom fields for all three lists together.

Once you create the custom fields in the lists, you can add them to:

  • Invoices
  • Sales orders
  • Estimates
  • Sales receipts
  • Purchase orders
  • Credit memos
  • Build Assembly (only in Enterprise)
  • Various reports (more on that later)

We often see people asking for the ability to add custom fields to other transaction forms, such as Statements. Unfortunately this is not possible.

In QuickBooks 2014 you can also add custom fields to the detail section of Checks, Bills and Credit Card Charges, although with some restrictions when compared to the list above (see this article for details).

In addition, custom fields can be used in several functions, such as Add/Edit Multiple List Entries, the Advanced Excel imports, and a few others.

It is interesting to note that you can change the name of a custom field without any problems. This isn’t surprising, you can do the same with the names of items, customers and so forth. If you change the name of an existing custom field all of the data in that field remains the same, just using the new field name.

An Example to Illustrate

Let’s look at an example of some typical uses of custom fields to illustrate what you can accomplish. I’ll use an invoice transaction in QuickBooks Premier 2013. I am going to assume that you understand how to edit an invoice template.

Here’s what I want my invoice to look like. I have two fields in the invoice header, and two columns in the invoice detail. These are fields that do not normally exist in QuickBooks.

  • Pref Day is the preferred day of the week that this customer wants deliveries. This is information that should be the same for each invoice for this customer.
  • Driver is the name of the driver who is making the delivery. This can change with each invoice.
  • Case Pack represents the number of bottles in a case (I’m not using the “unit of measure” feature, I’m selling by the case). This should be the same for this item each time that I use it.
  • Total Case is a number for each line that tells me how many cases there will be, a number that varies with each invoice.

Custom Fields in QuickBooks

How can I add these fields and columns? If we go to the layout designer we see that we can add a text box or a data field:

QuickBooks Layout Designer

Those won’t help, though. A text box is merely a box of text that I enter when designing the form – it doesn’t let me change the value when I am creating an invoice. A data field comes closer, but I can only add a limited number of fields that QuickBooks provides to me. I still can’t change the values of these fields when I am creating an invoice. So what can we do? This is where custom fields come into play.

Creating Fields for the Header

Let’s start with adding the fields for the header. Select any customer on the customer list and open the Edit Customer window. Select the Additional Info tab and then click the Define Fields button in the lower right. The Set up Custom Fields for Names window will open.

Adding Custom Fields to the Customer

Add the custom fields that you want and check the Cust column for each.

Note that you only have to define the fields one time in one customer record – the fields will be added to all customer records.

Click on OK and you will see that the custom field is added to the customer record. If you want there to be a default value for just this customer when you create a transaction, enter the value in this customer record. In my example I always want the same value in the “Pref Day” when I create an invoice for this customer, but the “Driver” value will be chosen when the invoice is created.

Customer record with custom fields

Now let’s add this to the invoice template. Edit the template and click on the additional selections button (not the layout designer), then scroll to the bottom of the list of fields in the header tab. You will see that your custom fields have been added to the bottom of the list. Place a check mark in the screen and print columns to add the field in both places. You may need to use the layout designer to place the field in the desired location on the printed form.

Custom fields in invoice header

If we create an invoice using this template you will see that the custom fields show up. If you use the customer we worked with earlier, the default value for the “Pref Day” custom field will fill in. We can edit the value in that field, and we can enter a value in the blank field.

Custom fields on the invoice

Please note the following:

  • You can only enter 30 characters of information in a custom field.
  • You cannot change the size or position of the field on the screen, but you can change that for the printed form using the layout designer.
  • If there is a value in the custom field in the customer record it will fill in the field in the form (as you see with “Pref Day” in the screen shot above).
  • Changing a value in this transaction will not affect other existing transactions, these values are stored in the transaction itself.
  • If you change a value in one of these custom fields you will be asked if you want this information to update the custom field in the customer record, to make it the new default. Note that you cannot change this behavior in QuickBooks (it can be annoying).

Changed the value in the custom field

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Sleeter Report since 2011. Charlie can be reached at charlie@ccrsoftware.com

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • I currently use custom fields in Premier Accountant 2013.

    I use them to track who referred a customer to me, if my customers have written reviews (if they have, I give them a break or don’t charge for small questions if they call or e-mail me later for support), their operating system, version(s) of QuickBooks, if networked and number of licenses, their web site (later versions have made this somewhat obsolete), and industry.

    I would find it handy to be able to set up a “user’s multi-choice list” option and to have a larger number of custom fields.

    I suppose I could upgrade to Enterprise Solutions (ES) since I get the program free as an Advanced Certified ProAdvisor (along with the Advanced Pricing package as I am also certified in ES as well) but I prefer to use the same type of software that most of my small business customers in Greater Seattle use.

  • Great Article Charlie… I always encourage clients to use Custom Fields they get so much more out of QB with their correct use.

  • We currently us QB Enterprise 13 and i have used custome fields for sometime with serial numbers. We are an outdoor power equipment dealer and our whole goods are serial numbered – had used advanced inventory but liked using the custom fields better; HOWEVER we have a problem with the value in the field saving to the invoice – if you save the invoice before you enter the item with the serial number in the custome field and then input the serialized unit it will save – if you just put in the item with the serial number and save – it saves all the info EXCEPT the custom field?? have struggled with this and have found no fix – have removed the field from the invoice and then added it back in and still doesn’t work – any ideas??? it works perfect other than that quirk??

    • Sue, I’m not sure if I follow exactly what you are saying, but that doesn’t sound right. Try creating a new test company, add a few items and set up the custom fields, and try it there. Does it work the same?

  • If I had to rank the best QB feature, the custom fields would be number one on my list. When reviewing all the other competitor accounting systems, and third party add-ons, no one came close to QB’s custom fields flexibility and functionality.
    Having said that, two areas that could be improved.
    1) When exporting custom fields to excel, the data is transferred as text. This includes dates and numbers. The custom field columns have to be converted to a date/number format using Excel’s Test to Columns tool. It would be nice if the custom fields could be stored in other formats, and not just text.
    2)After adding several custom fields to Documents, such as Invoices/Sales Orders, etc,, the document columns begin to shrink in size and become too narrow to see/read the data in the columns. The user has to continually manually resize the width of the custom field columns to enter the data, or read the data. Intuit should add a preference (in Enterprise) so we can add a horizontal scroll bar to the bottom of the documents, so the column widths stay fixed. An example of this horizontal scroll bar is in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries screen.

    • I hear you, Cliff. The export issue is a bit tough – in my add-on product I ended up exporting each custom field to two “types” of fields, one text and one numeric, to get around that. For the width issue, my workaround is that I have two monitors side-by-side and I drag the window reaaaalllllyyyyy wide.

  • Charlie: Can custom fields be used as a work-around in QB Pro or Premier to show an Item’s bin location and warehouse? Granted, it would be static (no transfers)but as long as the client was consistent on location, it might be helpful for the physical inventory and stock pulls?

  • I had a client who tried to create custom fields in Quickbooks online for for her customers but the options are very limited (Other & Notes). Is there a way to work around this? Do you think that QB will add this feature to its online product? I know you can create custom fields for the sales invoices, etc. but you can’t for customers like you can in the desktop versions.

  • We run a automotive reconditioning shop, been in business for 12 years, and currently invoice through our franchise’s website, and upload basic data on the invoices from that website into qb to receive payment, run statements, and pay bills. We no longer will be able to invoice through this online invoicing system, so we thought we could switch over all of the invoicing through qb. We mostly do wholesale work for auto dealerships. They require VIN, Stock #, Year, Make, Model, & color of the vehicle on the invoice, as well as the service provided and cost of service. We also need to track which technician did which service because they are paid on commission based on sales. All of these items we would like to type into fields, and since most of our employees are out in the field doing the work and creating the invoices, we need to come up with a plan to allow them to invoice mobile-y, which we’ve been told is to us QB online as they can use tablets/laptops. I’ve been seeing that qB online is very limited with fields you can customize, as compared to desktop version. I’m just not sure what we should do. Do you have any advice?

    • If your decision is made to work with QBO, you will have that issue. “Custom fields” are very limited in QBO, when compared to QuickBooks Desktop. There may be an add-on product for your industry that can help with QBO, but I’ve not worked with any (I’m not sure if something is available now).

      For QuickBooks desktop I can’t give you very specific recommendations as there are many factors involved that I don’t know about with your situation. You should work with a knowledgeable ProAdvisor on this kind of thing. Remote access for the desktop can be done in several different ways. There are mobile apps of various capabilities (and differing costs) that will let people in the field work with QB Desktop. There are some great “field service” kinds of apps. Another approach, you can use a hosting company to host QB Desktop and allow remote users to access it via a browser on a connected laptop.

      I can’t give you specific recommendations via a blog comment. You need to find a consultant who is familiar with these kinds of things who will look at your specific needs.

      • Hello,

        Just wondering if this statement

        “Custom fields” are very limited in QBO, when compared to QuickBooks Desktop.

        is still the case?

        Any sign of this changing?

        Can you recommend a cloud alternative to QBO which would allow 5+ custom fields on the customer record, which can be placed on the invoice header?


  • Charlie,

    > It is not possible to create a column that is used in a calculation….you can use a third party add-on…

    Yes, and there’s a new add-on which lets you do spreadsheet-based calculations between custom fields and most other fields (including form header and footer fields) on Invoices and other QuickBooks forms.

    It’s called FormCalc SST for QuickBooks ( http://www.goflagship.com/products/sst.htm ) and was released in December.

  • This is an excellent overview of custom fields. I find this very similar to when using SalesForce. Attributes in Quickbooks Enterprise have definitely improved the ease, usability and flexibility. Agree about the phone number validation, its a pain when you have it in different formats and need to convert to another. Just no of digits should be fine.

  • Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for another informative article.

    I have an issue that I was hoping you could help me with. I have created a custom field for product sizes. I need the information for work orders, which is easy enough to do, but on my invoices I would like the products to collapse based on item number (i.e. to disregard the size column). Do you know if that is possible?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  • I want the custom fields I create to show up on the employee organizer in Enterprise. Or is there a way to change the existing field names in the employee information section that we are not using?


      • Under Employee Organizer – then Employee Summary.
        I created a custom field for Driver’s License for all my employees. I want it to show on that screen (employee summary) but it doesn’t.
        There are fields that are not being used, can I change the names of those fields?
        Am i doing something wrong?

        • In the employee center, you can’t change what appears in the “employee information” screen. Custom fields will show in the Additional Info tab when you edit an employee.

          You can, however, add custom fields as columns on the left side of the Employee Center. Right click on the column headings, select “customize columns”, then you can add the custom field there.

          You can only change names of existing fields if you have a relatively current copy of QuickBooks – there are several fields in the “address & contact” tab, when you edit the employee, where there are dropdown options for 6 fields. You can’t specify your own name for them, however.

    • I guess that depends on what you mean by an “inventory aging”. If you are looking to see how long items have been “on the shelf”, that isn’t something that you are going to easily get out of QuickBooks. The program doesn’t track individual items or lots of items unless you move up to Enterprise with Advanced Inventory – and even then, aging information is hard to get out.

  • I have created a custom field and added to the invoice layout (SKU). How do i move this column where i need it. ( i mean i need this column to show on the invoice as the first column, instead of the third column)

    • Use the “Additional Customization” screen – in the screen shot I show on columns, where you are checking the boxes to include the columns, the “Order” column is what you use to rearrange the order of the fields from left to right.

  • Well written article! My question that I have for you is that I need custom fields on the item to track batch codes and expiration dates. The users multi-choice list looks like what I need. I’m just a little confused because I have an item that has 5 different batch codes and expiration a dates. Can custom fields be used to track how many quantities of the 5 batch codes and expiration dates? So let’s say I have a total of 500 quantities on hand, but of that I have 100 each are different batch codes and expiration. What I need to know is does qb will track by custom fields.

    • Andy, you won’t be able to track a quantity on hand of an item in a batch by using custom fields – at least, not easily. There isn’t a good way to associated a particular batch (with a particular expiration date) and know how many of that batch you have left.

      If you have QuickBooks Enterprise you can get some degree of “batch” or lot control using the Advanced Inventory add-on feature from Intuit. That gives you the ability to create “lots” and track how many are in a lot. Unfortunately, they don’t have expiration dates that can be associated with the lot, and you can’t use a custom field to help with that easily. And, in my opinion, the reporting features for Lot tracking are inadequate. See my initial review of this at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2011/09/quickbooks-2012-inventory-lot-tracking/

      Keep in mind that with Advanced Inventory you must have Enterprise, a full service plan, and pay the annual fee for the feature. It isn’t cheap.

  • Charlie,
    Great article – well written, detailed and informative as usual. They are a great tool and we use them many places. One issue with Custom Fields that we have encountered is sorting by them on the “Add/Edit Multiple Entries” screen. It does work, however it is extremely slow. Not sure if others have encountered this or not. Sorting by Custom Fields seems to work in other places such as on reports, Item List, Inventory Center…just not on the “Add/Edit Multiple Entries” screen, which is unfortunate since that is a very useful point to update your data. We have seen this on Enterprise 13.0 and 14.0, live data and sample company data.

    This type of behavior leads me to believe that it is a software issue and not hardware, data, or setup – but we can’t say for sure. If others are having this issue, hopefully this will save them some frustration. Thanks!

    • Interesting, Mike. I don’t normally work with very large item or customer lists (I assume that you have large lists) in my normal test situations, so I’ve not noticed that. The internal database structure for Custom Fields is very odd (it is a royal PITA to deal with when working with add-on products, for example) and I am not surprised. It slows things down incredibly in some situations.

      Best I can say is to use the feedback option in the Help menu to let them know. If enough people comment on it…

  • What is best use of the name field in Quickbooks Enterprise. For our P&L = name source is the vendor, memo is the detail. What do other orgs use “name’ to track? I feel like I’m underusing the power of that column for reporting. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

  • Hi Charlie,

    I set up a custom field in QB for our invoices. It worked great and we’re able to pull it for reporting, which was the issue previously. However, I set it up on my computer. Everything shows properly when I create an invoice, however when someone else goes into invoicing and uses the template I created it says “custom fields are used in this template” and drops the field from the template when they open it on their machine.

    Is there something I’m doing during set-up that isn’t selecting this at a company level?

    Thank you,
    April Gross

  • Hi Charlie,

    We have been using QB 2006 for some time as there are no versions thereafter that allow for multi-currency and placing of calculated fields on invoices.
    This version is only working with Windows XP. This version of Windows is unfortunately no longer supported.
    So we have to update. My question is – can the latest version of QB (2014) support the calculated multicurrency fields that 2006 can? I have had no luck out of QB help – they have very limited knowledge and gave me the wrong answer when I purchased QB 2010.

    Hopefully you can help please!

    With thanks

  • Good evening

    I am have just started using Quickbooks 2013 Simple Start Edition for our company.

    I have set up the design and layout for our invoices and estimates, I am however stuck when it comes to designing the customers statements. I cannot find where to go to design the layout, change fonts and include the company logo.

    I hope you can help me.

    • Suz, in the US there isn’t a desktop version of the product you refer to, so I can’t comment on that. And, in general, the “simple start” editions are just that, simple, with very few customization features.

  • Thank you for this article.


    Using your “Pref Day” and “Driver” example, if you were to enter “Bob” as a driver for one invoice then it would show up as the default in the “edit customer window”. In the future, when you create a second invoice for the same customer, the field will be populated as “Bob” and it can be written over as “Jim” before saving this second invoice. My question is, if I were to run a report showing this field for these two invoices, would they both say “Jim” since that is now the default? or would the first one still say Bob and the second one say Jim?


    • First of all, if you enter “Bob” in the invoice it won’t necessarily alter the value in the customer record.

      As far as what shows in reports, it depends on the report. In a general sense, “summary” reports will pull the information from the customer record. “Detail” reports will pull the information from the invoice record. If you can see the details of an invoice, the date, invoice number, terms and so forth, you will see the custom field value from the invoice.

      QuickBooks stores the values of the custom fields along with the transaction records if you have a transaction that lets you add custom fields.

  • Hi I am trying to provide an invoice to our customers that shows a mark up of 25% from our charge to them. In other words I charge my customer a service fee of 100.00 that gets entered to my A/R, and then I want my invoice to preset / calculate the markup and show on screen and print the mark up of 25% — $125.00 — so they in turn can submit that invoice to reflect their markup. I thought I found a way through Lists> Item List> Edit Item> then Check mark a box “This item is used in assemblies or is a reimbursable charge” by checking that box it give me a field called COST and a field called Sales Price — and it works to calculate the Mark up— but the problem is: the COST field will not populate on the invoice ???? I tried adding a field name COST and I tried under edit item going to custom fields to add a field called cost… neither way allow the COST field dollar amount to populate the invoice… Please help? Lisa

    • Invoices won’t let you show the “cost” field, or “avg cost”, of an item. They just don’t allow that. You can play with the columns in an Estimate, but that can be a bit frustrating to work with. Is your markup based on the cost of what you buy the item for? You buy it for $100 and sell it for $125?

      You can also play with a Service item set to a percentage rate. Enter the item you want with a price of $100, then under that add a “markup” item that has a rate of 25%. That will show a total of $125. You could insert them in a Group item, or use a subtotal item, to show the total. But that takes two or three lines in the invoice.

  • Thanks for this article.

    I have setup a user custom field on our invoices in our Enterprise 2013 version and it works but I would like to make it automatic. For example, when a user enters an invoice, I would like to show that user name on the invoice without having the user to choose their name from a custom field drop down list. Is the user info stored with the invoice and can you access it to print?

    • You don’t want to have that as a value in the customer address block, perhaps?

      If indeed you want a custom field, I wouldn’t make it a dropdown list as it sounds like you have now. Just a text box.

      In the customer record itself, if you go to where the custom fields are shown, you can enter the “default” value there. Then when you create a new invoice, and select that customer, the value from that customer record should populate the custom field in the invoice.

      • The “user” information I want to show on the invoice is the name of the person who was logged into QuickBooks when the invoice was created. So if I log into QuickBooks as Brian with my user password, I want to display “Brian” on the invoice. Is that information stored with the invoice when it is created?


  • Hi, I have setup fields that I use on my invoice,l which is great.
    Today I added an extra one, the problem is with the “on screen” display. I want to be able to move the new field next to a different position.
    ie : the new field is “customer contact” I want this to be next to the field “customer name” not on the far right.
    Is it even possible to move the fields? for the on screen only, printing side is all ok, very flexible in design.
    Thank you so much in advance.

  • It would be really nice if I could also have my custom data field also pick up data.

    Id like to have a data field as a header that automatically inserted the customers name with whom the invoice or estimate is associated with.

    It makes flat filing much easier.

    Can anybody assist with that one?



    • I’m not sure what exactly you are looking for (and what is “flag filing”?).

      If you create a custom field in the customer record, you can enter a value in that custom field in each customer record. So if you have a custom field named “CName”, and in the customer record for “Dale Comeau” you enter the value “Comeau”, if you create a new invoice or estimate for “Dale Comeau” then the value “Comeau” will automatically show up in the CName custom field (assuming you have added that field to your invoice or estimate template).

      If that isn’t what you want, can you explain in more detail?

  • I’m working with a client’s QB2012 Invoice Templates.
    He’d like fields to record a couple of lines each for “Work Required;” and “Work Performed:” on each invoice (above the “Charges” section with Item, Description, Qty, Rate, & Amount on the invoice).
    Is there any alternative to the 30-character Custom Fields? Or, might I dummy up several fields, adjacent to one another in the template “print” layout?
    It seems that the invoice entry “screen” might be more of a problem than the actual invoice “print” layout…

  • Hi Charlie,

    I enjoyed reading the easy to follow article on customizing fields in quickbooks.

    You noted that your instructions covered several QB editions, but we are using the manufacturing and wholesale quickbooks.

    A furniture manufacturer, that is what we are. We do a lot of custom work, which requires a deposit, and for that – an invoice. This makes the sales order no longer open of course and that is where the issue is.

    How might we be able to show a report with incomplete, or maybe even un-shipped, sales orders – even though they may be invoiced? (customer’s desire an invoice, not a proforma to send in their deposit, and then often, a final payment even though the job may not be completed or shipped)

    • Jeff, everything in this article applies to your Premier Manufacturing and Wholesale edition other than the Enterprise features.

      I can’t give you a complete description of how to handle this in a blog comment (and this doesn’t related to custom fields, anyways). You can receive the deposit separately, you can print a sales order using a template that shows “invoice” in the label, there are other workarounds. Any good ProAdvisor should be able to sit down with you and give you the details of how to address this in your situation.

  • Hi Charlie,

    firstly, i would like to express my thanks for your article.
    it teaches me a lot as i am a new user of QB.
    we need to total the ‘CUFT’of each item and show in the total place (just like
    what is going on total amount), i create custom field of ‘CUFT’ and define the value of each item, can it be work to total the ‘CUFT’when i do purchase order and sales order and packing slip?
    what we are using is QB 2014.
    Thank you in advance.

      • Dear Sir,

        i use quickbooks ver.6, i edited a clients details and added an extra ‘custom field’- called “PIN Numbers”, i compiled all the pin numbers of my clients and inputted each and everyone. now going to my vat report, where i customised to see the PIN number, i can see the coloumn but no PIN number being displayed. i shall appreciate if you could assist me on how to go about with it.
        please drop me a mail on ntc052@gmail.com

        • You are using a different version than I have so I can’t give a detailed answer. In general, if you add a value to a custom field in the Customer record that value won’t show up in any report that is based on transactions. You would have to add the custom field to your transactions, and then it will fill in on the transaction and show on the report for that transaction

  • Thanks for this post Charlie.

    I want to change the row label on the balance sheet report that has the default wording “Liabilities & Equity” to “Liabilities & Net Assets” which is more common terminology in nonprofit finance. Do you know if there is a way to do this in QB online NP edition?

    I’ve researched the question online and can’t find an answer.

    • DeAnna, that is off topic for this discussion. However, I’m not clear what product you are using. There is either “QuickBooks Online” or “QuickBooks Non Profit” which is a desktop product, not online. Which do you have?

  • I am trying to find out if there is a way to make several purchase orders off of one estimate. Both my boss and I are shocked it seems so difficult to do. Any suggestions as to how to accomplish this?

    • Liz, that is way off the topic of this discussion on custom fields.

      You don’t mention what QuickBooks product you are using – year, version, nationality. In my US Enterprise V14 version, for example, when I click the button in the estimate to make a PO, I’m asked if I want to make a PO for all of the estimate, or for “selected items”. I can make multiple PO’s from the one estimate. There are things that I would like to see improved, but the basic feature is there.

  • I was wondering if you can add the customer phone number field on the screen version of the sales receipt (screen… not print).

    • No, Lorna, you can’t. However, if you have the right transaction sidebar open in that window, when you select a customer the phone number and other information will display.

  • Hi Charlie,

    Another fantastic article….. wish I’d seen it before I set up all of the custom fields in my company file. I learned how to do all of that myself but according to your article, it looks like I did it all correctly.

    I am an Enterprise 14 Manufacturing and Wholesale with Advanced Inventory user and have a question that I think I already know the answer to, but here goes:

    I manufacture aftermarket components for motorcycles and sell to wholesale (distributor), dealer and retail clients. My distributor clients send me purchase orders with both their part number (the number they sell it as in their catalogs to their dealers) and my part number (the number I manufacture it under and sell it to other customers in my catalog) on their purchase order document. When I ship the items to my distributor, I would like the ability to put both of our numbers (the “Item” number that they order it as and the “Manufacturers Part Number” that I sell it as) on the custom “Packing Slip” that I send with the shipment and the custom “Invoice” that I e-mail to my customer.

    But I can’t, because “Manufacturers Part Number” or “MPN” is not currently available as one of the columns in the “Additional Customization” screen of the “Template Manager” that can be added to custom “Packing Lists” and “Invoices” even though “MPN” and its variants are used extensively throughout the QuickBooks program.

    To clarify, I have set up all of the part numbers that my distributors buy from me as “Inventory Items,” so in addition to the part number that I manufacture the item under and sell it in my catalog, I may have as many as five other part numbers in QuickBooks for the same basic part…. one for each of the distributors that also carry it in their catalogs. The prices of this item may differ slightly to the five distributors depending on hardware, packaging etc., but the basic part is exactly the same for all of them. In all of the applicable screens, the distributor’s part number appears in the “Name” field/column and my corresponding part number appears in the “MPN” field/column. My part number appears in both columns when it is a part that I sell to dealers and retail customers. For the screens that my sales people review, I keep track of which “Item” number belongs to which distributor thru the use of a two-letter code in a custom field that appears right after the the “Name” and “MPN” columns. The six different part numbers (my number and the five distributor numbers) can all share the same bin location, because no inventory is kept for any of the distributor part numbers. When an order is received from a distributor, the quantity ordered is just transferred from my part number into the distributor’s part number prior to the “Sales Order” and the “Pick Ticket” being generated. If there isn’t enough inventory on hand of an item to fill the order without emptying the shelf below the minimum desired on-hand quantity, then the item is backordered or is only partially filled.

    I have been sending this product improvement suggestion to Intuit weekly, but doubt that I will see it implemented in my lifetime. So, I’m assuming that the only workaround in the interim is to create a custom field and populate that field with my corresponding part number for each of the distributor part numbers that I have set up in QuickBooks. Then, I would create separate Pick Ticket, Packing List and Invoice templates with the additional “MPN” (custom field) column exclusively for use with distributor orders (no need for that column on dealer and retail paperwork as the information in those columns would be redundant).

    I just hate to squander a custom field (I only have 2 left in “Items”) when this seems like a relatively simple programming change…. especially since the “MPN” field already appears throughout QuickBooks.

    I apologize for the length of this inquiry, but I wanted you have a fairly complete understanding of why I would like to see that column made available to be added to the templates. Surely I can’t be the only person who would like to have that functionality.

    Best regards…..

    • Either custom fields, extract the data and format it yourself, or use an addon product. Contact me directly and I might be able to make a recommendation (although I may be slow to respond as I am in Kenya at this moment).

  • Hi.

    Can I use the item memo field (only long one I understand?) to print a longer list of instructions with line breaks on a purchase order? (QB info I’ve seen doesn’t say how many char will print on a PO or WO, just that not all on other things.)

    If so, will that mess up other reports and such by default because they use the memo field?

    If so, how would that print if several items on a PO? No way to have those memos printed on separate pages, right?

    No way to automatically link a separately maintained pdf or other file when you print a PO, is there?

    No way to have photos of items, right?

    Enterprise 9 version.


      • I responded to your first comment before I saw this correction.

        I wouldn’t use the item description field, in the item record itself, because that is a pain to enter and it would be used for any subsequent orders where you added the item. Just type it into the description column in the PO itself, in a line that doesn’t have an item, rate or amount.

    • Enterprise 9 is a bit old, there are some newer options in Enterprise 14.

      I’m not sure what you are referring to as the “item memo” field. There is a memo field, but that doesn’t print on the form (screen only). Generally what you do is to enter information in the “description” column on a line that doesn’t have an item or amount. You can have as many item lines as you want.

      As for a separate PDF attachment, see http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2013/09/quickbooks-2014-email-improvements/ for how that feature works in the V14 product. Older versions don’t have this.

      And no way to do photos other than using that attachment feature in V14

  • Wondered if you could help on a use of custom fields!

    Currently, on Customer:Job record,we have a custom field for “Job number” in which we put our four digit job number on the Job record then, on invoice layout we have this custom field sitting next to the invoice number. This gives us an invoice reference of 1234 4321 made up of the Job number and Invoice number. This helps us in ‘Receive payments’ to allocate payments by job when the customer quotes the full reference in their remittance advice. (Invoice number only helps allocating at customer level)

    We do a similar thing with Purchase Orders whereby the order number is made up of the Job Number and Order number (this helps allocate invoices as they come in to the correct engineer) but we have to do this as a custom field in the purchase order layout and enter the job number very time we raise and order!
    We can pull the job delivery address into the order, is there another way then of a custom field to also pull the job number into an order?

    Thank You

  • I’m new to Quickbooks, recently made the move from Sage and am trying to learn all the little tricks. With Simply I was able to add a comment of my choosing (example: within a vendors info, a note describing their preferred method of payment), and I could allow any individual comment I wished to pop up in a message box anytime that vendor was selected in a transaction.

    I was hoping I could do the same thing with the Custom Fields in Additional Info, but I can’t figure out how I would get that to pop up in a Bill screen.

    Is there any way to make this happen?


    • Custom fields won’t work for you, Christie.

      You can’t add the vendor-based custom fields to a Bill transaction window.

      You can’t make custom fields “pop up” at all, anywhere.

      Custom fields are only 30 characters long, and that isn’t much of a note.

      If you use the “Notes” feature in the Vendor then the note will show at the bottom of the vendor information in the right hand panel in the bill transaction. It doesn’t “pop out”, but at least it is visible. And this allows for a longer note.

  • Hi Charlie,

    I use QB Enterprise 14, R7. How can I import Bill data into QB with all the custom fields created on the column or body of the bill? Do you know any tool that can do that?


      • Thansk Charlie for the reply.

        I’m using their tool. Still searching before I will do bulk import. I can import custom fields for Invoices but not for billing. Basically its for cost accounting. Any accounting software that support SDK for data migarion.

  • Hi Charlie,

    I am using QB’s Pro 2014 and am trying to “group” my seasonal employees. I need to be able to have them print on certain reports without the other employees. I thought I could define a custom field under the “additional info” tab, but I don’t see how to extract just those employees on reports. Do you know a way to do this? Also, it would be nice to see them listed together on the list of employees…last year I put a “Z” in front of their names, but had to remove that when I printed their W2’s. Any suggestions?

    • Cissy, that would depend on the report. Since the custom fields aren’t included in transactions, you will only see them in reports that just print off the employee list. For example, with the “Employee contact list”, you can “customize” the report to add the custom field as a column, and once you do you can sort by that column. But a “payroll transaction detail” won’t work that way, as the custom fields aren’t in the transaction.

  • I thought your article was finally what I needed! But then found out it still didn’t work.

    Can I set up a custom field and have it show on Sales Order, then carry over to Purchase Order and Invoice? I set up a custom field for “Ordered By” under the first customer on my list, and checked both the customer and vendor columns, then fixed my layout. It didn’t work so I also added “Ordered By” under the first vendor on my list and checked both the customer and vendor columns and fixed that layout. Still no luck. Is it not possible to show who ordered from me (a distributor) and then show on the p.o. to my vendor without re-entering a name?

    • Rick, what version/year/nationality of QuickBooks do you have? With the 2014 US versions, I add a custom field to the customer/vendor record, and to the item record. Then I modify the sales order, purchase order and invoice templates to add those fields. I can create a sales order and enter a value in those fields, and create both a PO and invoice from that sales order. If I use the modified template to look at the PO and invoice, they carry over the values in the custom fields from the original sales order, just fine.

    • Rick, I just tested this in my copy of Premier 2012, and as long as I have the same custom field set in the PO template as I do in the Sales Order template, and I create the PO from the sales order using the button at the top of the SO form, the data that I have in the custom field header for the SO carries over to the same field in the PO field header.

  • Ok, so here’s exactly what I did:
    1. Opened my first customer, clicked on Additional Info box…Define Fields, typed in Ordered By, placed check mark in Cust and Vend columns, hit OK, then went to List…Templates…Sales Order form…Additional Customization and checked the Screen and Print boxes on the Header tab and made the Title Ordered By. At this point I had to move the field and heading in the Layout Designer since they were overlapping another field. Finally I hit ok, ok.
    2. Then I opened my first vendor and followed all the same steps as I did in #1.
    3. Then I opened the invoice and did the same.
    4. If I create a new order now the ordered by name shows up fine on the invoice but not on the purchase order?

    • Rick, let me ask for clarification on some things.

      First – are you saying that if you have a value in the custom field in the vendor record itself, that this value isn’t showing up in the PO when you create a new one? Or are you saying that you have a sales order, that if you create a PO from that sales order, the value doesn’t carry over from the SO to the PO? Those are two different things, I want to clarify what you are saying.

      Second – you added the custom field to the customer record (additional info) and checked both the customer and vendor columns when you added it. Then you say you went to the vendor record and did all the same steps – the custom field should ALREADY show up in the vendor record, are you saying that it didn’t and you had to create the field again, over there?

  • First – I’m saying that I have a sales order and when I create a PO from that sales order, the value doesn’t carry over from the SO to the PO.

    Second – yes, the custom field titled Ordered By did not show up in the vendor record, so I added it there.

    • There is something wrong in your installation, or in that QuickBooks company file, unless we have a miscommunication.

      If I go to Customer record, additional information, define a new custom field and tell it that this field is available for both customers and vendors –

      And then I go to a vendor record, additional information – that custom field should show already. By defining a new field there you are creating a separate field, which is why the SO/PO stuff isn’t working.

      Try creating a brand new file from scratch (not a copy of your existing file) and test this, to see if there is a problem in your QBW file.

  • I created a new custom field in a customer record and put a check mark under both customers and vendors. When I look under a vendor record it shows! I added this new field to sales order, invoice and po, but it still doesn’t carry over to the po.

    I’m not sure what you mean by creating a brand new file (not a copy of my existing file).

    • OK, so the steps are varying a bit, you didn’t do exactly the same steps in each place.

      At this point, I can’t really say what is going on, from here. It sounds like you are doing each of the steps right, although it isn’t clear as you aren’t being very precise in your descriptions. In my test system, and in all of my client systems, if you have a custom field showing for both the customer and vendor (the same field), and you add it to the sales order and PO templates, when you convert the SO to a PO then any data in the custom field carries overs. Happens all the time.

      Either (1) we are missing some step (easy to do when talking about something via comments, rather than face-to-face) or (2) something is damaged in your company file.

      What I was suggesting, as a way to test if there is file damage, is to go to your File menu and create a brand new clean QuickBooks file. Add a customer, add a vendor, add a custom field in both places, test this on the “clean” and new QB company file. If it works there, then you have some damage in your QB company file.

      Other than that, hire a qualified QB consultant to look at your file first hand, to see what might be going on.


    • Don, “expiring date” isn’t something that QuickBooks does well. I don’t have a simple answer, it all depends on what exactly you want to accomplish and what version of QB you have. It is a bit easier if you have QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions and subscribe to the Advanced Inventory feature, but that doesn’t directly resolve the issue and that becomes pretty expensive. Then you can use the “lot number” feature and use the expiry date as the lot number, in some cases. But, reporting is the key, and reporting is the flaw in QB.

      Custom fields aren’t a lot of help in a typical business. Assuming you don’t have a very limited number of items, you can’t use it in the item list itself. You can add it to a purchase or sales transaction, but that doesn’t relate to counting how many of an item you still have on hand with that expiry date.

  • Charlie,

    Great article. I have a file in QBE 2013 with 10 custom fields. When I export the list to excel it only shows 5 custom fields! Do you know how to get all 10 to show?

        • IIF is an old format that Intuit doesn’t really support any more – at least, they don’t improve it. It was developed back in a time when there were only 5 custom fields in the item list. When Enterprise was updated to add more custom fields, Intuit didn’t add them to IIF.

          The Excel export (see the Excel button at the bottom of the item list) will export all of the custom fields. This might not be what you want, depending on what you want to do with that export. If you are just trying to get the list of items to use in some other situation, it works quite well. But you have to have a compatible version of Excel.

          You can also use some third party tools to export the information, but that involves an additional cost.

          • Again, it depends on the details. You can export to Excel and then import from Excel with the “Advanced Import” feature (Excel button on the item list, “import items”, then click the Advanced Import button). Or, you can use the “Transaction Pro Importer” tool, and perhaps the “Transaction Pro Exporter” tool, depending on the details of what you want to do, how much you want to spend, how easy you want it to be. Do a search in the “search box” on this blog page for “transaction pro” and you will find some articles that talk about those add-on products.

  • How can I sum the total weight in my column on my invoice? I added a custom field as a weight column but it doesn’t add up the total weight of the items.

  • Charlie,
    Great write up!
    We are using QB Enterprise V14 and we are having an issue with custom fields. We’ve added a custom field to our Item List called “Bin Location” where we store the physical location of all our goods in our warehouse. We then added the custom field to our PO template so that it shows SKU, description, qty ordered and Bin Location, etc on all our PO’s. We do this so when the goods arrive we can print out the PO as a form of check-in sheet so the warehouse team knows how many products we ordered and what bin to put them in.

    THE PROBLEM: Bin Locations are updated every day in our item list in QB as goods are relocated throughout the warehouse. The custom field Bin Location that is tied to the PO is only accurate at the the PO was generated because it is stored as part of that transactions record. As the bin location changes the POs data does not refresh, so when we print out the PO to give to the warehouse team for check-in the data is often wrong.

    MY QUESTION: is there a way with QB14 reports, the new Advanced Reporting model in QB v15, or with 3rd party add on to be able to run a report that will show the details of a PO but then add on the Bin Location data from the Item list (real-time updated) rather than the PO transaction record?? I hope that all makes sense.
    Thank you,

    • Mark, what you describe is the way that Intuit intends things to work – the value in the custom field is stored in the PO itself at the time of creation, so that value stays with the PO.

      The initial versions of Advanced Reporting can’t handle this as they didn’t allow access to custom fields from what I could see (that could change soon).

      A reporting tool like QQube (www.clearify.com) could be used to create the kind of report that you want.

  • I am writing a complete suite of construction related reports that are similar to the features and functionality of Sage 300/Timberline. We use the custom fields features as well and the SDK to extract the data into our SaaS application.

    I cannot think of a logical reason to allow for 15 custom fields, but only 7 of them can be related to a customer record. This does not make any sense at all and is frustrating.

    • Dennis, if you could see into the QB database internally, that would answer some of your questions. It is a mess.

      Note that you have access to more data than the 15 custom fields if you are using the SDK. You can create your own internal custom fields. They just won’t be accessible via the QB user interface.

  • I am having an issue regarding the custom field. I work for a medium sized warehouse and we created a custom field for the “bin location” of items to help with fulfilling orders. When entering an order on an invoice, the item along with the bin location shows on the screen. Everything looks perfect. Then as soon as we hit “save”, the field for the bin location will have no information. The bin location for the item is gone but all of the other information will still be there. In order to fix this so everything prints on the invoice, We found that we have to open the invoice again, “copy” the item number, delete the item, re-add the item, and then once the item WITH the bin location is all listed, we can then print the invoice. This is really crazy that we have to go through these many extra (and unnecessary) steps to just get the custom field to print on the invoice. I am wondering if there is something we missed in setting up this field or is this an issue that other people have had. We have it set up to show this field on screen and to also be printed on the invoice. Do you have any ideas on how we can fix this so that the bin locations will stay on the invoice when we hit “save”? Please help! Thank you!

    • Lynnid, I can’t really give you much without seeing the file. It shouldn’t work that way, but there can be multiple reasons for what you are seeing.

      If you work with one of the “sample files” do you see the same behaviour?

      • I am a newbie here, so what “sample file” are you referring to? What do you think the multiple reasons could be for this?

        • Close your company file (from the “File” menu) – not exiting QuickBooks. You will see the “No Company Open” window, that lists company files you have opened. You should see a button at the bottom that says “Open a sample file”. There is a list of multiple sample files that QuickBooks will “install” and open, that you can play with. Note that the date of the transactions will be several years in the future, so that you know that you are working with a sample.

          • Thank you! I created the custom field in the Sample file and everything worked perfectly and I was able to see the bin location on the invoice! No extra steps. Then when I went back to our file and tried to recreate it the same way I did with the sample file – no luck. back to same glitch. It will not keep the bin locations on the invoice after I hit save.

          • This indicates that there MIGHT be some data corruption in your QuickBooks file. Make a backup, run the “rebuild” function in the file/utilities menu, see if that resolves the issue. You may want to work with a qualified person who can examine the file to see if there are things that can be resolved.

  • Charlie,
    I running Quickbooks Mac 2014. I have created a custom field as well as column in an estimate and PO Form. The data populates correctly. The problem occurs when i attempt to print or print view. the column remains, however the data does not transfer to the PDF. Thoughts?


    • Ron, I can’t comment much about the Mac version as I don’t own a Mac to work with. The product is very different than the Windows version. When you say it doesn’t transfer to the PDF, what if you just print to a printer directly?

    • Unfortunately, as I said, I don’t have a Mac so I’m not familiar with the details of how that system works. You did a good job in testing another company file, so that tells you that it is something in that particular company file that has a problem (as opposed to a printer problem or a program problem overall). Next to try is to use a different template, one that hasn’t been modified yet. Create a new template and see if that has an issue, within that company file. Beyond that, you would have to work with a ProAdvisor who is familiar with the Mac system.

    • If you enter a value in the custom field in the customer record, or item record, then when you use that customer or item (and the custom field is a part of the order template) then the value will populate there. If you change the value in the customer or item record itself it won’t affect existing orders, just any new orders you create. If you change the value in the custom field in the order itself, it only affects that order. Hope that covers the situation you are asking about.

  • Great article, but I’ve come upon an issue when there isn’t a transaction template to modify in QB2015 Premier. I’ve entered a Custom Field in Customers called “Platform”. I can add it to a transaction report (Transaction List by Customer), but when I add the “Platform” field to the report no Payment Transactions are shown. I’m guessing that’s because “Platform” isn’t added into the Receive Payment transaction screen, and I haven’t found a way to add the “Platform” field from the Customer List to this transaction type. What am I missing?

    • You aren’t missing anything, Gary. You can’t modify the payment transaction to add custom fields. The transaction list by customer won’t pull the field from the customer list, it will only take it from the transaction, and it doesn’t exist there. No way to do this in QuickBooks by itself.

      • Thanks. Would QQube be able to do this? I really need to be able to produce a Transaction Listing by Customer filtered by Platform.

        • If the “platform” value you are filtering by has a value in the field in the customer list, I would guess that you should be able to do that. You should check with Clearify (or try a trial run, if they offer one) to see if you can make that connection, but I expect that you can.

  • I am Using costume fields but when I moved to another online quickbooks I could not move the information I added to the new quickbook I needed to create, Any Advice how to do that

    • Custom fields in QuickBooks Online work differently than they do in QuickBooks Desktop. I’ve not paid attention to how that data might transfer over, but it doesn’t surprise me if you found that it doesn’t. Making things match will be complicated.

      You can export the info from lists in the desktop product. As far as importing, check with the people from Baystate Consulting to see if the online version of Transaction Pro Importer can import custom fields in some way. http://www.baystateconsulting.com

  • We have bin locations for our products. I would like to create a packing slip that would print the products by bin location..in say alphabetical order. Is it possible to create a custom column that would sort by alpha or numeric order when printed?

    • Are these bin locations as provided by the Advanced Inventory option in QuickBooks Enterprise, or are you using a custom field? The latest version of Enterprise provides sorting features, but any other desktop version does not. You can use an add-on product to sort with Pro or Premier, such as CCRQInvoice (www.ccrsoftware.com). Note that this is a product that I created.

  • I am currently using the retail version. So if I understand you correctly, I could upgrade to Enterprise and have this feature?
    I will also check out your program.

    • Retail version of Premier, or Enterprise? They both have a retail version. I’ll assume that you have Premier.

      Enterprise has a sorting feature, the question is if you want to pay the expense of moving up to that. There are a number of nice enhancements in Enterprise over Premier, but with the new subscription pricing it gets very expensive (as opposed to using CCRQInvoice, which is MUCH lower cost). You can see my writeup on the new sorting feature in Enterprise at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2014/09/quickbooks-2015-enterprise-transaction-enhancements/. Enterprise has an Advanced Inventory feature, also (at some levels of subscription) that handles bin locations and so forth.

  • We recently updated our Sales Order and Packing List templates to include a Backorder column. The column shows on the template, and in the preview, but NOT on the print preview. No matter what I do, I can’t get it to print. I made sure that both the “screen” and “print” boxes were checked for that column (the “screen” box is checked and also grayed out), but it doesn’t seem to affect the print preview or the actual printed form at all.

      • Thanks for the quick response. Yes, we had been trying to print forms that have backorders.

        We ended up making a few additional changes to the invoice template, and that enabled us to print the backordered column on the other forms.

  • I’m tacking on to an earlier article here Charlie, but I have a small problem with the location of the link for Intuit’s online bill payment on an invoice.

    If I’m emailing an invoice to a client’s customer, I realize the link for Intuit’s online bill payment is included in the email body, but if the customer prints out the invoice from PDF and would rather pay by check, the client uses invoice paper with a tearoff of the lower 1/3 of the invoice (upper left portion of the tearoff showing the customer’s return address, lower left the client’s mailing address) with a return envelope that they can simply drop their check and the lower portion of the invoice into.

    Unfortunately, the link for Intuit’s online bill payment covers the customer’s return address on the invoice tearoff. I can’t move the text from the customer’s return address since the envelope window is fixed and I can’t seem to find a way to move the Intuit online bill payment link to different position on the invoice.

    • Well, Jack, that has nothing to do with THIS article…

      You don’t mention which QB product you have, which is always important. I guess my answer for you is that in the latest product, QuickBooks 2015 R5, which is the direction for the future of course, there isn’t ANY link added to the PDF invoice (at least at this time). With the new QuickBooks Payments system the only link is in the email itself. So I guess that eventually resolves your problem (I assume you have an older version of QuickBooks than 2015) because eventually your product will be sunsetted and payment links will no longer work, and you’ll have to move to the new system.

      • Sorry if I confused matters Charlie. At the beginning of this year, My client was using Premier 2012. They’ve since upgraded to Premier 2015, so I guess the issue has been resolved. Thanks,

  • Hi Charlie,

    Great article, thanks. I have a question. What if I have a custom customer field called “Region”. Values are either “NORTH”, “SOUTH, “EAST”, or “WEST”. Can I then create a report showing all transactions last month from the NORTH region?



        • Alex, unfortunately I will not be able to give you a more detailed answer ntil after the middle of the month, as I am traveling overseas and don’t have a way to get my hands on a copy of QuickBooks to work out the details. I will get back to you on this later in the month when I return

          • No prob, thanks. FYI, at some point if this is custom consulting, let me know your fee.


          • Hi Mr. Russell,

            Have you had a chance to look at the QuickBooks report problem?



    • When you say “all transactions”, that makes it tough. First of all, “all transactions” won’t have that custom field. You can’t add it to inventory adjustments for example.

      You can use a “transaction list by date” report. Customize it to add the custom field as a column, add a filter for the custom field, showing that one value. Leave the “detail level” to “summary only”. Then you get a list of the transactions that have that value – again, it won’t be “all transactions” because there are some that you can’t add the custom field to.

      The “Custom Transaction Detail” report works similarly. However, for that you would get the details of the transaction, so you would see a line for every detail line of an invoice (etc.). If you are JUST looking for invoices, though (since custom fields can’t be added to all transactions) then you could add a filter for the “Accounts Receivable” accounts, which helps filter out the detail lines.

      • Are you sure this works? The instructions are simple enough, but the report still shows no results. Again, happy to pay for consulting to make this work.


        • Never mind. After being on the phone with QuickBooks for 1.5 hrs (about 1 hr of that on hold), they admitted that despite the example on their website, QuickBooks will not do this. All apologies to this forum, but need to vent, are there any alternatives to QuickBooks out there? It doesn’t seem to do very much of what we need, and what we need is so basic.


          • Alex, I’m seeing the report just fine in my test system, as I believe you are looking for. Again, we may be looking at different things, but I can filter the reports as I described and get the results I expect. Feel free to email me at the address in my bio, send me a PDF of your report, I’ll take a quick look.

          • Intuit’s solution is to add a custom field to an invoice, so that every time you create an invoice, the info is copied (by QuickBooks) to the invoice. Forgetting, for a moment, the horrific amount of data duplication, and any amount of knuckle-slapping-with-rulers by any self-respecting programmer, this introduces the ability of a front-office person messing this up. Wanna call me and I’ll explain it? I’ll try to contact you via your website. -Alex

          • Ah, I see the issue. You weren’t already using the custom field in the transaction itself. That is the key. I had the custom field in the transaction, and the data was populated there. That is how QB reports work – detail transaction reports use the custom field data IN the transaction (as I describe in the article).

            It does make sense, actually (although internally, their implementation is weird). You have the data in the customer master. But you might not always want that same value in the transaction – so by storing it in the transaction then you have the ability to change the value associated with the transaction. That might not fit YOUR case, but it fits many other cases.

            So, you needed to add the field to the transaction so that it populates the value there. In that case, it all works.

            You can use a tool like QQube to generate the report you want without having to populate the data into the transaction – see my review of this product at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2011/03/quickbooks-reporting-is-simple-with-qqube/ . Excellent reporting tool, and it pulls the data out into a more “normalized” data structure.

  • Hello – you have so much information about this!
    We use Quickbooks Enterprise 15.0.
    I am wanting to be able to track (and hopefully run reports also) on specific info that I would like to add to my customer invoices, namely “Source of Sale” – website, trade show, fax, email, phone etc. I would like the choices to be simple dropdown menu for my employees to check.
    I realize I could use “Class” option, which would make report running easy, however I was also hoping to go back through prior invoices this year and back-enter the data, which would not work as it would require me to manually enter the class for each line-item, on each invoice, so not a solution.
    I have created a custom field with a drop down menu, as per your instructions, but now realize that I cannot create any reports with this data in (ie., total annual sales from website, etc)
    By the way, I am already using Rep, and most of the other Quickbooks provided fields.
    If you have any suggestions I will greatly appreciate it,otherwise I will just use “Class”.
    Thank you!

    • If you haven’t entered the data in the invoices already, you will have to go back to enter it in them, regardless of whether you use Classes or Custom Fields. You can’t magically push the data back to those existing invoices, at least not with QuickBooks by itself.

      If the entire invoice has one source then you don’t need to update each line, you can add the class, or a custom field, to the invoice header, so that would be one update per invoice rather than per line.

      Classes will let you do things like generate financial statements by class, which might be interesting. You can’t get that by using custom fields.

      As far as reports and custom fields – again, the data has to be stored back in the invoice for it to be available by report. And even then, depending on the report, you won’t always get the information. Summary reports won’t usually show the info from custom fields in transactions.

      You can find more flexibility by using a reporting tool like QQube (www.clearify.com), which I’ve reviewed elsewhere in this blog. However, that is an additional cost, and it might be fairly complicated to set up.

      • Hello Charlie – thank you for your information!
        So far I think that I will go the route of custom fields, as it does allow me to go back into the prior invoices and enter the data and run some simple reports. However, even when the report offers me the option to use “Source of Sale” as a column, when I go to filter the report, although Source of Sale is listed as a filter term, there are no drop-downs (ie fax, phone, website etc). Is there a way to configure the custom field so that the drop downs are usable to satisfy QB report-filters? Or can you point me to a specific report that may work for my needs, which is to be able to run a report comparing the $ amount from the various order sources.

        Regarding updating the old invoices with “Class”, when I tried I found that even if I entered the class in the field at the top of the invoice, I then had to go through each line-item and change it also or it would not populate any reports. Is there an alternate way of doing this? I do see that “Class” may be the best for future invoices, but I would really like to be able to see past trends and that is why I keep trying this custom-field approach.
        Hope my question makes sense,

        Thank you

        • Julie, it is hard to give detailed assistance via blog comments. I suggest that you use our list of recommended advisors to find someone who can help: http://www.sleeter.com/user/consultant/search

          If you create a dropdown list for a custom field it will be available in the transactions, but you won’t get that dropdown list in the report filters.

          Again, it depends on the report you are using, if you use a report that looks at details then the value has to be in the details – but that is the same whether you use class or custom fields. No difference.

  • We are using QUCIKBOOKS ENTERPRISE 2014. In customer field, we can type Chinese charactor in all field EXCEPT the address field. Every time when I type Chinese it in billing or shipping adress field it will automatically dispeared. Do you know how to solve this problem? Previosly we used QUCIKBOOK 2011, this situation doen’t happen at all. THANKS

    • QuickBooks no longer supports Unicode data well, so you are out of luck from what I can see, at least in the US and probably Canadian versions. I’ve not come up with something that reliably gets around that.

  • I am looking to create a retirement report that I can export/upload to submit detail to vendor
    1) include employees account number (from custom field)
    2) amount withheld from paycheck

    Is there any work around to combine the two (list/transaction) reports

  • Hi Charlie,

    I was looking to create a custom field on the Inventory Item screen, and have that field show when you are looking at an item. Specifically, I want to put a field that says “last updated”, so we know when an item was updated with proper cost/selling price information. I created the field, but can’t get it show on the item screen. Is it possible? (We have Advanced Inventory)



    • You can see the custom field in the “edit item” window by clicking the “custom fields” button.

      You can add a custom field to the “item list” by right clicking the column headers, selecting “customize columns” and adding it as a column

  • Hi Charlie,

    We have QB Enterprise 2011 and been using custom field option for some time now. We have a custom field created in item as “Birds” and a number is entered in Invoicing window item line. It shows up in Sales By Customer reports and so on.
    We are also using ODBC custom reporting tool with MS Excel.

    What I would like to know is, how the v_cf_item table is linked with other tables such as v_txn_invoice_line to build joins ? basically to get Sales by Customers details along with associated “Birds” field data

    Thank you.

    • I don’t work with either of the ODBC drivers for Enterprise – either the Custom Reporting version or the QODBC version that is included. I use the QBSDK instead. Custom fields are, in the database, in a separate table from the item lists and transactions. I don’t know if they are presented that way in the ODBC drivers. I would suggest working with QODBC, there is extensive help with this at http://www.qodbc.com

  • Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for your earlier response… and now I have another client who wants a couple of custom fields set up for items. I set them up, and populated them through a bill. They then use this bill to create the invoice. So they have four items, where they filled out Service Date and Ticket No. The items are marked billable on the bill. They then open a new invoice, and select the items by using Add Time/Costs. This brings the items from the bill over successfully, but the values in the custom fields don’t come over. Is this possible?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Charlie,

    Thank you for the great article.

    Is there an add-on product that would increase the available number of custom fields? We are looking to buy QB Enterprise but would need about 50 custom fields for our client records.

    Thanks in advance.

    • You can’t increase the number of custom fields inside of the QuickBooks database. There are addon products of various types that would let you link your QB data with an outside database, so that you could work with a combination of QB data and added storage outside. Method (https://www.method.me/) for example, or QODBC to connect your own database with QB’s. There are a number of options along those lines

  • Feels like your article is the closest I’ve come to finding an answer to my question; but I’m not quite sure how to apply it to this situation:

    My husband is a custom jeweller; all on-demand; no inventory. I do have an item list of all the components used to create his end product — gemstones, accent diamonds, gold, platinum etc.

    I don’t want the client to see all those details. As far as they’re concerned, I’m quoting on “one 14k white gold ring with 1 carat emerald and 0.50 carats diamond accents. In a halo setting with a micropave band.”

    Right now, I don’t send quickbooks estimate to the customer. Seeing the detailed list will be confusing to them. Instead I just take the final price and send that in an email with my description.

    I’d love to use Quickbooks to create a professional-looking invoice though. Therefore my question: can I ‘convert’ my estimate to an invoice but 1. remove all the detail except subtotal, tax & total 2. Plus add a custom description field where I can type out “one 14k white gold ring yada yada” so that they have an accurate record of what they purchased? The description is almost always longer than 30 characters.

    Ideally, I’d love to do the same thing for the estimate. Create a detailed item list for my purposes but ‘hide’ those details and replace with a custom summary for each client.

    • Ruth, look into a “Group” item, rather than custom fields. You have service or non-inventory items for your gemstones and so forth. You create a Group item that has the common elements that go into a ring, even though those elements may vary. Set the group item to not show the details on the order.

      Add the group item to the order, it shows you the details on screen. You can insert new lines in the group (to add some extra gems, for instance), you can delete lines from the group, you can change the quantities and even the price. The group item itself shows a subtotal of the amount.

      When you PRINT the order, if you have it set right, the printed (or emailed) form the customer gets shows just one line and one price, without the details.

  • Hi Charlie,

    Very useful article. Thank you! We’d like to use custom fields to identify the type of services customer’s use for our landscaping business. If that would work, would you recommend going with a single custom field and creating codes that indicate different combinations of services or creating a custom field for each type of service such that each service would have its own field. There are about six different services. We want to be able to run reports by one or more customer types extracting customer lists by service type. We use QB Enterprise.

    Thanks for your help.

    • I can’t really say, Diane. It depends on how you are going to use those codes, what kinds of reports you are going to work with. Will customers use different combinations of services? Are you sure that there won’t be more service types added in the future? It isn’t a simple issue.

  • Hi all,

    I’ve added a new custom field to customer master data and was able to see it in the customer transaction details report. However I’m struggling to find that field in respective invoice line table (v_txn_invoice_line) when running a query. Can anyone advise on this?


    • Which access method are you using? There are several.

      Custom fields aren’t usually listed in the invoice detail directly, there may be a custom field table that is attached to the detail. To be honest, I haven’t looked at this via any of the ODBC access methods, or Advanced Reporting. Custom fields are implemented in a very odd way in the database.

  • I’m using QB2014 Premier. I changed my item numbers to UPC codes, so I could be able to scan my items and they could get entered instead than type. but for some reason, every time I scan a barcode, the sales orders get automatically saved with the first line, instead than going to the next item, ( like tab). the other problem is, I have some items that do not have a upc code, is there a way to add a field to pull out the data? is there a setting to change the auto save on sales orders?

    Thank you

    • Luis, I’m going to guess that you probably have the barcode scanner set to add a carriage return at the end of the scan. Depending on what scanner you are using, that usually is something that you can program into the device (or remove).

      Another option is to open Preferences and go to the “General” preferences, the “My Preferences” tab, and see if the “Pressing Enter moves between fields” box is checked or not. You might find that checking that box helps.

      But, it depends a lot on your scanner.

      As far as your UPC code question, I’m not sure what you mean by “add a field to pull out the data”. You can enter anything you like for the item code, but you have to find a way to print a barcode for it.

      • Thanks Charlie, that worked for me!

        as for the second question, I switched the upc code to the item code, and I added a custom field for the Item. the way it is now, I need to enter the upc code ( which I can do with a scanner) in order to pull the item information in to the sales order. my question was, if there was a way to set up the Item field ( the new one I added) so I can type it, and I can get the item information onto the sales order.

        Thanks once again, the setting reply was a huge help

  • Enterprise 2015 online with Advanced Inventory:

    2 problems with Custom fields (more a problem in ITEM since we have 7 custom fields):
    1) cannot alter the QB screen to display/edit/add an Item, so the custom fields cannot be displayed shown with QB standard fields on one page. Only way to view the custom fields is to click on the “Custom Fields button”.

    2) Cannot create drop downs to select data for a Custom Field, so no way to computer-control entry.

    • For the first one – that is the way Intuit set it up. You can send them a suggestion…

      For the second one, in Enterprise (which is a desktop product, not an online product) you can create a dropdown list for custom fields. Pro and Premier don’t have that, but I use that feature in Enterprise all the time.

  • Charlie:
    I submitted the first item to QB several months ago.

    You are right on custom fields and your article was a great explanation. I had just forgotten that.


  • Hi Charlie, I’m using QuickBooks premier contractor 2015. I’m created a new invoice template. I’m attempting to add custom fields to the customer additional info screen but it’s telling me the add/ edit multi list is open and I cannot get around it. I added one field to the ship via list since we are not using that field. when I open the customer additional info screen the only drop down is customer type and rep. any thoughts.

    Thanks David

      • Thanks for getting back to me. Yes i shut everything down. opened just the customer window, and I get that message. I”m not sure what window it’s referring to.


        • Charlie just as an update after spending an hour on hold with QuickBooks. The way to get around the “add/edit” window being open when defining a custom field on the customer file is to go to the top of the screen, select “window” then select “close all” Hope that helps. thanks a bunch


  • How do you get the location and weight columns to populate with data on a pick list? Each inventory item is checked to show weight and location, the columns print but they are empty. Why isn’t quickbooks filling in the data?

    • The pick list is just a different template for either a sales order or invoice, depending on how you are set up. Do you have the custom fields added to the original document that you start with? The fields have to be on the form that you CREATE the order with for them to populate. If they aren’t on the original form when created, the data isn’t there for any later derivative form.

  • I am using QB2015 for Mac. I’d like to put a calculation field in my invoices that would reflect a surcharge (say, 2.5%) if paying by credit card. Is there any workaround that would allow me to do this? I was thinking of creating a new sales tax percentage but I can’t use two sales tax lines as far as I know. Any ideas would be welcome!

    • Jennifer, I don’t work with the Mac version, so I don’t know what features they have. In the Windows version you can add an “other charge” item that would allow for a percentage rate.

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