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Set up and use estimates

Learn how to set up and use estimates in QuickBooks Online.

Do you want to add an estimate to an invoice? We explain how they work, and how to apply one to an invoice.

Create an estimate when you want to give your customer a quote, bid, or proposal for work you plan to do. The estimate form looks similar to an invoice, but has a different purpose of helping you begin negotiations with your customer.

After you've done the work or performed the service and you're ready to bill your customer, you can add data from the estimate to an invoice, eliminating the need to re-enter the information.

  1. Select + New.
  2. Under Customers, select Estimate.
  3. Select a Customer. Choose a status on the drop-down under the customer's name (optional).
  4. Verify the  Estimate Date, then enter the Expiration Date (optional).
  5. Enter the Product/Service, Description, Qty, Rate, AmountVATMessage (optional), and Discount (optional).
  6. Select Save and close.

Although the estimate looks very much like an invoice and you can print it or email it, it's still not a true transaction yet. The charges on an estimate won't appear in the customer centre or be posted to a sales account until you add the estimate to an invoice and save it.

To add the estimate to a new invoice, first locate the estimate you already created. Then add it to the invoice. Note: Only estimates in Pending or Accepted status can be created into an invoice.

  1. Select Sales, then select Customers.
  2. In the Money Bar (multiple coloured bar), select Estimate.
  3. Find an estimate you want to invoice.
  4. In the Action column, select Start Invoice.
  5. Select Add for all the estimates listed you want to invoice.
  6. Review the information pulled from the estimate and edit if necessary.
  7. Save your invoice.

There are two reasons you might not be able to add the estimate to an invoice:

Reason 1: You've selected a different customer than the one you selected when you originally created the invoice

Find a list of estimates.

  1. Go to Reports.
  2. In the search box, enter Estimates by Customer.
  3. Edit the date range and grouping and select Run Report.
  4. When you locate the estimate in question, see if the customer's name is the same as the one you were choosing when trying to create an invoice.
  5. If the estimate in question does not show under the correct customer name, select it and change the customer name.
  6. Select Save and close.

If the name on the estimate is correct when attempting to create the invoice continue to the other reasons below.

Reason 2: On the estimate, the Status section may not have the appropriate Status selected

  1. Locate the estimate you previously created.
  2. On the upper left of the estimate, make sure that the Estimate Status field is set according to your copy setting (Accepted or Pending).
  3. If you change the status, select Save.

Estimates in QuickBooks Online weren't designed to be added to more than one invoice; however, we do have a solution that may be helpful. Here's what to do:

  1. Go to Sales, then select All Sales.
  2. Find and select the desired estimate.
  3. Change the Estimate Status from Closed to Accepted. Under Action, select the drop down ▼ menu and choose Update status.
    • On the Estimate screen, go to the Status section.
    • Select Accepted from the Status drop-down arrow.
    • When you see, The Transaction you are editing is linked to others. Are you sure you want to modify it?, select Yes. This will disconnect the link to the invoice this estimate was included on. The invoice will remain intact but the link from the estimate will be gone.
    • Select Save and close.
  4. Add the estimate to a new invoice.

To see the status of your estimate and if it has been applied to an invoice, use the Estimates by Customer report.

  1. Go to Reports.
  2. In the search box, enter Estimates by Customer.
  3. Select your date range and select Run Report. (Note: To further customise the report, select Customise.)

This report will provide you the name of the customer, number of the estimate, status, and an Invoice No. if it's been applied.

  1. Go to Sales, then select Customers.
  2. Select Estimates from the Money Bar.
  3. In the Open Estimates column, select the  estimate(s) to navigate to them.
  4. Select the Estimate to pull it up on the screen.
  5. Select More then Delete.
  6. When you see Are you sure you want to delete this estimate?, select Yes.

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