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Understand reports

SOLVEDby QuickBooksUpdated December 01, 2022

QuickBooks Desktop provides different reports that cater to your business needs. A report is a set of instructions that the program uses to display data from your company file. All available reports can be accessed through the QuickBooks Reports menu.

This article is part of a series that covers basic information about reports in QuickBooks Desktop.

How QuickBooks generates reports

QuickBooks Desktop displays reports based on a set of instructions known as a Report set. Through this set of instruction, information is extracted from the data file and shown as a set of transaction lines. Report set determines which lines of which transactions are included in the report and if the report includes either Source or Targets or both.

Report set Includes:

  • The structure of the report that is hardcoded into QuickBooks Desktop.
  • The embedded filters that are part of this structure.
  • Default filters.
  • Settings on the Display and Filter tabs.

When building a report, QuickBooks looks at individual transaction lines. If a line matches the report set, then the line is added to the report. Note that different reports read a transaction differently so the two reports you might think should have the same amount may, in fact, show different amounts.

QuickBooks Desktop also uses a concept called Source and Targets to apply accounting principles and processes, like recording transactions and displaying reports. Understanding Source and Targets help you maximise Report Filters so you can create more effective reports and faster-advanced finds.

  • Source is the summary information about a transaction. It contains all source data (source account, source name, source memo and source amount, etc.).
  • Targets provide the detailed information about the transaction and include all target data (target accounts, target names, target memos, target amounts, etc.).
  • When pulling up any saved transaction in QuickBooks such as an invoice or a check, pressing Ctrl+Y on your keyboard pulls up its transaction journal report. The first line on the report shows the source data and the rest of the lines are target data.
  • All transactions have a fixed source data except general journal entries, since you can insert a line before the first line on the entry. Doing so makes all lines on the general journal entry recognised by QuickBooks as Target data.

Available reports in QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks offers a wide variety of reports that tell where the company stands. These reports offer critical information about the company. Check the table below for details on every report group available in QuickBooks Desktop Pro and Premier:

Report GroupsDescriptionSample reports
Company and FinancialFind out how your company is doing financially.Profit and Loss Standard, Profit and Loss Detail, Balance Sheet Standard, Balance Sheet Detail
Customers and ReceivablesFind out how much your customers owe and when it is due.A/R Ageing Summary, A/R Ageing Detail, Open Invoices
Sales ReportsFind sales information related to customers, items, sales reps, pending sales, and sales orders.Sales by Customer Summary, Sales by Customer Detail
Jobs, Time and MileageFind out how well your company is doing at estimating jobs, how much time is spent on each job, and the mileage expenses for each vehicle or job.Job Profitability Summary, Job Profitability Detail, Estimates by Job
Suppliers and PayablesFind out how much your company owes and how much is overdue.A/P Ageing Summary, A/P Ageing Detail, Supplier Balance Summary, Supplier Balance Detail, Unpaid Bills Detail
Purchase Reports*Find information about purchases and open purchase orders.Purchases by Supplier Summary, Purchases by Supplier Detail, Open Purchase Orders
Stock Reports*Find information about stock value, stock status, and pending builds, including a worksheet for checking your stock take.Stock Valuation Summary, Stock Valuation Detail
Employees and PayrollFind information about your employees, payroll, and payroll-related expenses.Payroll Summary, Payroll Item Detail, Workers Comp Summary
Banking ReportsFind information about your banking transactions.Deposit Detail, Check Detail, Missing Checks, Reconciliation Discrepancy, Previous Reconciliation
Accountant and TaxesFind information related to accounting activities and income tax preparation.Trial Balance, General Ledger, Audit Trail Report
ListFind lists of useful information about your company.Account Listing, Price Listing, Customer Phone List, Supplier Phone List, Terms Listing
Contractor Edition Reports**Custom-built for contractors with advanced job costing to help them analyse data on which job they are making more money.Job Cost by Supplier Summary, Cost to Complete by Job Summary, Unpaid Bills by Job,
Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition Reports**Customised tools for manufacturers and wholesalers to streamline workflow and manage finances more effectively.Sales by Rep Detail, Sales by Product, Open Sales Order by Customer
Non-Profit Edition Reports**Customised tools for Non-Profits to help them manage their organisation’s finances more effectively, efficiently, and easily.Biggest Donors/Grants, Budget vs. Actual by Donors/Grants
Professional Services Edition Reports**Perfect for Consultants, Engineers, Architects, Attorneys, Designers, Ad Agencies, and more.Billed/Unbilled Hours by Person, Project Costs Detail, Project Status
Retail Edition Reports**Designed specifically to help retailers manage sales, stock, and customer information.Profit and Loss Monthly Comparison, Sales Graph, Accounts Payable Graph


* Available if Purchase Order and Stock features are turned on.
** Available only in QuickBooks Desktop Premier.

Want to see a graphical presentation of how your business is doing?

Just go to the Company menu, select Home Page and then Insights tab. You can check out different reports such as Profit and Loss, Prev Year Income Comparison, Top Customers by Sales, etc.

Note that Insights displays data based on accrual-based reporting. If you're using the cash basis, the data may be different from what you expect.

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