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Changes to QuickBooks Online Template Customization

April 7, 2014 | By | 22 Replies More

In the past, customizing invoice templates in QuickBooks Online was sort of hard to find – and then sort of hard to actually customize.

In the latest release, things have changed, and while it’s not exactly what many users have been asking for, I believe the new interface makes things a little easier to manage. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I did check with the QuickBooks Online (QBO) development team, and many of the options that used be available but were not included in the recent redesign are on the road map to bring back in future releases. Yay!

I’ve heard from many accounting professionals that are long-time desktop users that one of the reasons they still can’t put ALL of their clients on QBO is because they have some that require specialized customization for their form templates. Some need invoices formatted because of client requirements, others need different templates for separate types of invoices/sales receipts. These changes to QBO still won’t solve for that, but I think with new QBO being much more agile than the “Classic” version of QBO, hopefully we’ll see this in the future.

The easiest way to get the customization (and at the time of this writing, this is only available for Invoices and Sales Receipts, and I think, only for new subscriptions set up after the release) is to open the screen to create a new Invoice/Sales Receipt – down at the bottom you’ll see the Customize button (Figure 1). You also have access to customization in Company Settings.

QuickBooks Online Template Customizations

Figure 1: Customize button

Once you click that Customize button a window will open that allows you to “add personality” to the form. You can edit the color of the template and the style and font with the Style tab (Figure 2).

Customization Style Tab

Figure 2: Customization Style tab

On the Header tab users are still able to choose what content will be displayed, regarding their company contact information as well as renaming the forms. I’ve seen many clients changing labels, such as “Estimate” to “Quotation” or “Sales Quote.” The new customization allows you to enter any text into the title; previously you had choices to choose from in a drop-down menu (i.e., Invoice or Pledge, Credit Memo, or Return Receipt). Choosing to use Custom Transaction Numbers can also be selected from here as well (Figure 3).

Customization Header tab

Figure 3: Customization Header tab

What’s missing here, that used to be available, is the ability to add a background image. I found this very useful for companies that had logos that didn’t fit the 1″ x 1″ recommended size, or that had more than one logo image that needed to be included. One way around this would be to use preprinted invoice forms – but support for this was omitted with this redesign also. However, this only really works if companies are printing hard copies of invoices. Fewer and fewer companies are doing THAT these days. The lack of this could mean that things can get a little sticky for some users. According to the QBO team, adding background images is one of the features that’s on the road map to return in a future release, but they were unable to give me an idea of when.

One work-around would be to save as a PDF and use a program like Adobe Acrobat Pro to add a stamp, but what if the company wants to send directly from QBO to make it easy to get paid with Intuit Payment Network? I didn’t realize this would be an issue until my cohost on Radio Free QuickBooks, Dawn Brolin, asked me how to add a second logo. For now, the only thing I can suggest would be to combine the two logos into one image file and upload that to add to the template.

Another option that I don’t see, that I know a few of my clients really like, is the “Account Summary” option (Figure 4). In the old template customization screen this was an option. It is a sort of a mini-statement that would print above the body of the invoice. Again, this is on track to return soon, according to the QBO team.

Account summary from QBO Classic, missing in the new version

Figure 4: Account Summary from QuickBooks Online Classic

Customizing columns is still available. You’re able to choose what columns will show when you print/email (Figure 5).

Customization Columns tab

Figure 5: Customization Columns tab

Another old option that’s missing is being able to choose the column order. Again, we’ll see this return in future releases. Figure 6 shows what it looks like in the old customization screen (found in Company Settings/Preferences). They did keep the ability to edit the column titles with the redesign.

Column Ordering from QuickBooks Online Classic, missing from the new version

Figure 6: Column ordering from QuickBooks Online Classic

Also gone are settings that affect how users bill for time activities. For ongoing projects that are billed hourly (like a data cleanup or entering historical data for a client), users have historically been able to track time, and when adding to an invoice have been able to group the time charges. This means that the client may be billed at the end of the project or every other week. The QBO setup would allow them to review the time activities grouped by day, week, etc.

That type of grouping seems to be missing in this early release; as well as the choice to add subtotals to those groups, collapse them, and to choose if the user wants to show whose time it was, the time and rate, or how the time activities are described. Figure 7 shows the options in the old template customization screen.

Group and Time Tracking Options in QuickBooks classic, missing from the new version

Figure 7: Group and time tracking options in QuickBooks Classic

The QBO team has indicated that, at the time I’m writing this article, the time options you see are scheduled to make a comeback, but not the options for grouping that we’ve had in the past. I find that a bit of a bummer, since I think it’s easier for a client/customer to review the data when it’s grouped, rather than just an invoice with a bunch of line items. I’d like to see the ability to group by day/week or type, collapse similar activity, and edit the line item descriptions if needed. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and maybe most users don’t care, so what do I know, right? I’m sure my kids will tell you: NOT MUCH. Ha!

When it comes to editing the footer, I liked being able to choose some default text related to company information (rather than have it only show on the header), and that’s been omitted with the redesign as well. I don’t find that too much of an issue, since it can still be added using some custom text in the Footer box (Figure 8). Plus, we still have the option to include a message to customers, such as “Thanks for your business” or “Hey dude, pay me soon!”

Customization Footer tab

Figure 8: Customization Footer tab

At the end of the day, I love the interface; I find it easier to access. With the release of the redesigned settings page there will be two places to find the customizing: on the Invoice and/or Sales Receipt form screen as previously shown, or the Company tab in the Company Settings page as shown in Figure 9. I also find the finished products look more clean and modern than before.

Customization in Settings

Figure 9: Customization in Settings

However, it makes me sad to find that right now some of the features from the Classic version were omitted for the initial release: background images/watermarks, the account summary is gone, and editing how billable time shows up on transactions.

I’m not too worried about these omissions. I understand that this is the first release of the redesign and know that they’ll be making an appearance again soon. I just am horrible at waiting, especially if it’s for something I’m used to having! I also take comfort in knowing that future releases will only continue to get better. If working with QBO for 10 years has taught me anything, it’s that they will for sure!

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Category: Cloud Accounting, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Tips/Tricks, Software Updates, Stacy's Online Solutions

About the Author ()

Stacy Kildal is owner/operator of Kildal Services LLC, located in Waterford Michigan—a full service bookkeeping company that specializes in all things QuickBooks. As a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor, she supports QuickBooks clients all over the country, offering payroll, bookkeeping, training and consulting. She regularly teaches QuickBooks workshops through the local county planning and economic development department, along with community college and continuing education classes for various school districts.  Stacy is one of the three hosts for the Radio Free QuickBooks weekly online radio show. As a member of the esteemed Intuit Trainer/Writer Network, Stacy has presented many live seminars and webinars. Her attendees enjoy the passion she exhibits for her work and can easily relate to the many real life examples she uses during these presentations. She has also been featured frequently on Intuit’s Community "Ask the Expert" forums, at various Intuit Academy To Go podcasts, as well as hosting a number of Intuit Small Business Online Town Hall sessions. She an big fan of working mobile and has been recognized by Intuit as being an expert on QuickBooks Online, having written the Intuit Academy courses for the US, Singapore and Canadian versions. Kildal Services LLC provides consulting, speaking and writing services to clients (including other accounting professionals) nationwide.

Comments (22)

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  1. Woody Adams says:

    rock on!

  2. Another QuickBooks and Beyond article to forward to one of my QuickBooks Online clients in Greater Seattle that was asking about this subject. It is much easier to send a link than having to explain it to them.

  3. Kyle says:

    Thanks, it confirmed what I read in the forums. Unfortunately, I have not found a perfect fit for my needs yet, as I would really just like to add bullet points to my invoices. The online one I currently use called http://www.hiveage.com does formatting real well (even allows attachments and links within the invoice) but is a bit clunky in other areas. I also like that QBO has a payment device like Square and PayPal which they just sent me today unbeknownst to me. I won’t be using it though. :(

  4. Jessica says:

    Stacy,
    Have you heard anything about when QBO might have the ability to customize a template layout or import a template?
    Have some clients that have custom templates that they use and are unwilling to move to QBO until they can either import the templates they created or at least recreate the same template.
    Thank you in advance for any in site you might have!

    • StacyK says:

      Jessica,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know of any plans for further options for customized templates.

      Sorry!

      • Hi Stacy… Have you EVER tried to fit one of these “Customizable” templates into a “Quickbooks Window Envelope”????

        It is impossible to line up the addresses! (The check box to make them window compatible is WORTHLESS!

        Let me know if you have found my observation to be incorrect.).

        Thanks!
        Kevin
        Perrysburg Lawn and Landscape LLC

        • Kevin, although there is a lot more that Intuit can do to make these templates truly customizable, in my test QBO company the address blocks line up perfectly well with the window envelopes that I purchased for my QuickBooks desktop product. I don’t know if these are the same as what they are selling now, as I bought these about 5 years ago. I rarely mail an invoice to anyone anymore so I haven’t been going through envelopes very fast.

  5. Andrew says:

    Just spent 2 hours setting up my online account, only to find out that my invoices cannot be customized the way my customers require. Irritating to say the least, I mean how hard could it be to allow us to import our custom templates from QB desktop. Something needs to be fixed or I am not using their services.

  6. Michael says:

    Stacy K, been on QBO since it launched and love it to death. However I really need to customize my invoices for a new product launch and I can’t find the options you show in this blog.

    Where you have a customize button on your invoices I have a “MORE” with options like COPY, VOID, DELETE, TRANSACTION JOURNAL and AUDIT HISTORY.

    I’m going to switch to IE and see if that helps. I’m currently using Chrome. Let me know if I’m doing something wrong.

  7. Stacy says:

    Here are the new updates to template customizations:

    http://qboblog.com/whats-new-quickbooks-july-25-2014/

  8. cindy says:

    what about customizing statements? how do you go about doing that?

  9. Good article but I was hoping it would tell me how to customize QB online forms to A4 paper size as used in the whole of Europe. As it is forms all print out on US paper size so when these are combined within a bundle of documents, the printer gets hiccups when it looks for US paper in the A4 tray. It’s not a printer (Acrobat) setting on my computer and as QB chooses the paper size. Every other piece of online software we use allows us to choose paper size so I would have thought we could do this in QB – it’s not rocket science. If anyone has any ideas I’d be truly grateful since QB are ignoring my questions and nothing of use on the forums. Or perhaps I am the only person in Europe/Asia etc which uses A4 and is experiencing this problem?

    • Unfortunately, Mike, people in the US (such as myself) don’t have access to the international versions of QuickBooks Online, so that isn’t something that I can address. Heck, we don’t even have multiple currency support like you do…

      • Charlie, after a little rant at Intuit they have admitted this area is less than satisfactory and, to quote, “Our engineers have prioritised this”. I’m not holding my breath however.

        I wonder who writes these databases in a global and small world where we deal in multiple currencies, different paper sizes and adapt to our customers’ demands in remote marketplaces.

        Digging deeper I’ve now found that QB Online gets indigestion when viewed in Firefox. That’s a pretty elementary flaw, surely a product like this shouls be fully tested on all browsers?

        Fingers crossed…

        • Intuit’s strong emphasis on QuickBooks Online is relatively recent (when compared to other products they have), and the globalization effort is also relatively new. They have a LOT of things to improve and work on, in my opinion. Online accounting products, in general, lag behind desktop products in many ways. But they are moving forward rapidly (sometimes, I fear, too rapidly).

          I would expect that “globalization” features are ones that will be worked on in the relatively near timeframe.

          I don’t use Firefox so I can’t comment on that. I just wrote an article about issues with Chrome (http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2014/09/quickbooks-online-accountant-chrome-login-problems/). It is surprising that they have issues, but I’ll note that even though people talk about the uniformity of browsers, you really do have to program for each of them as they all have their “issues”. And, browsers are changing, so it is a moving target. I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about programming for that kind of environment.

  10. Ranjith T Nair says:

    Dear Team,

    i have to include my bank account details in the footer of Sales estimate. However the column size is not sufficient much to include the details. Kindly let me know how i can increase the footer column size.

    Thank you for your reply

    • I’ve resorted to creating a sales line item with the bank details (one for each account/currency) and add this as the last item in my invoice. You have to give it a quantity (1), tax rate (0%) to make it work. It doesn’t look idealbut that’s the only sensible workaround I can find until these templates are made user friendly and properly editable.

      Don’t fiddle with column widths – they will drive you to distraction. Change them and they go haywire and getting the settings back will take you an age. Good luck!!

  11. Fernanda says:

    Quite honestly, what Inuit has offered as an online Quickbooks solution, in my opinion, has been a fail. Really just leaves you feeling like the users are expected to pay higher prices for the online version to ultimately serve as beta testers. The current online version really is a sandbox for paying testers who provide feedback to Intuit developers as to what is missing and/or not working. Seems to me they are working in a dev environment without business requirement docs, project managers or business analysts.

    Quickbooks Online is not an ideal solution for anyone thinking it will help improve their current Quickbooks desktop experience.

    • Fernanda, a large number of Desktop users won’t find the Online product suitable. Intuit themselves say that only 30% of the existing QB Desktop users are suitable to moving over. QuickBooks Online finds greater acceptance in first time users.

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