QuickBooks has done a good job of anticipating the vast and varying needs of business owners but it is likely you still need some customization to maximize its utility for your business. That is where custom fields come in. This feature allows you to add extra fields and label them to meet your specific business needs.

You can define up to 12 custom fields and use them in customer, vendor and/or employee records. They work just like your built-in fields appearing in the records and exported files. You can also search based on custom fields.

Steps for setting up custom fields
We’ll start with people records.

  • Go to your Customer Center and open a blank Customer record (in newer versions of QuickBooks click on New Customer & Job in the upper left corner, and then click New Customer).
  • Next click the Additional Info tab in the left vertical pane of the New Customer window
  • Click on the Define Fields button in the lower right. This window will open (with blank fields):Custom fields in Quickbooks

Figure 1: You can create up to 12 total custom fields that will be shared by customers, vendors, and employees

Now you are ready to create a label for your custom field. It is worth taking some time at this point to think through your custom field label strategy. You want to make sure your labels are descriptive and follow a pattern that makes sense in your business. To help you set up your label strategy walk through the following questions.

  • What do you want to know about customers/vendors/employees that isn’t already covered in the pre-built record formats?
  • What kinds of information will you want to make available in report filters?
  • How will you want to separate out individuals for communications like emails, memos, special sale invitations, etc.

Once you are ready to label your custom fields follow these steps;

  • Simply type a word or short phrase on a line under Label,
  • Click in the box(es) on the same line in the appropriate column(s).
  • Don’t forget to go back into existing records and fill in these blanks in order to be consistent. Your searches, reports, etc. will not be comprehensive if you don’t.

Item records
The people related custom fields described above are generally for internal use meaning they don’t automatically display on sales forms, purchase orders etc. If you determine that you do want some custom fields to display on forms follow the steps outlined below.

  • Open the Lists menu and select Item List
  • Click the down arrow on the Item menu in the lower left
  • Click New. Since you will be selling similar items that you’ll be keeping in stock, select Inventory Part under TYPE.
  • Click on the Custom Fields button over on the right and then Define Fields

Custom Fields for Item Records

Figure 2: If you sell similar items that are available with different characteristics, you’ll want to create custom fields. 

As you did with the people related custom field labels, enter a word or phrase under Label and then click in the Use column. After you’ve entered up to five fields, click OK.

Adding custom fields for people or items as described above may be all that is required for your business. However, you may find that you need additional custom fields, for example, if you manage many different SKU’s. Custom fields can be added so that they will automatically appear on standard transaction forms but the process can quickly get complicated. It is best to seek out expertise to make sure that you will be able to see true inventory levels in reports and add the desired custom fields to sales and purchase transaction forms.

If you have any questions or need help setting up custom fields, please give me a call.

Randy Randy J. Elder, CPA, P.C.

With nearly three decades of professional experience in public accounting, Randy provides his tax and accounting expertise to new and small businesses in a casual and friendly environment. Before founding Randy J. Elder, CPA, P.C., he held various positions with an international accounting firm, and with regional and local CPA firms. Randy earned his Arizona CPA license in 1988, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from Northern Arizona University.

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