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Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
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Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
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Chapter 6

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Items:  The whats of your business

Items are the most widely used entities in QuickBooks.  Nearly all users must use items, and a detailed discussion follows.  Customer and vendor records are described in some detail.  Handling of the other entities is similar.

Items serve as the basic blocks of doing business.  The concept began with the invoice line items in QuickBooks 1.  Items XE "items"  are now used to handle anything you buy, keep or sell, plus some other details.  Items could be likened to the wheels on a car.  If you think of the items as doing the work of an invoice, purchase order, bill, or other form, you will find QuickBooks doing what you expect it to do. 

Which came first, the item or the invoice? The answer is both.  Items are designed to fit into invoices and other documents.  Items and customers must be entered into the lists, before you start invoicing.

All items have three things:

  • Type of item
  • Name
  • Description
  • Most items also have:
  • Unit price
  • Account

Type means that every item is of some type.  The type XE "type:item"  governs the other information in the item record.  (This is no relation to the type labels for customers, jobs, and vendors which are described later.)  These item types are used:

  • Service
  • Other Charge
  • Non-Inventory Part
  • Inventory Part
  • Sub-Total
  • Discount
  • Payment
  • Group
  • Parent Item
  • Sales Tax Item*
  • Sales Tax Group*

     * Covered in Chapter 10

Item name/Number is used to retrieve the item from the item list.

Description is just that.  It usually is text on the invoice, to inform the customer.

Unit price or the like adds to the total of the invoice

Account is the opposing account in a double entry transaction.      

Understanding the workings of items, and how they connect into invoices, will save many questions.  The invoice shows the item name in displays, but the name really is not in the invoice.  The invoice record contains a number, called a pointer, because it points to a location in a list.  When the invoice is displayed, QuickBooks looks up the item in the list and displays its name.  This applies to all entities in lists.  For the same reason, changing the name of any entity in a list will change the name any place it appears.

On the other hand, price, description, and some other information, are copied into invoices as a default used until or unless you change it.  Subsequent changes to these, in the item list, will not be reflected in existing invoices.

How do you tell what kind of field XE "field:in item"  it is? If a down-arrow will select an entity from a list, that usually means you are setting up a pointer, not copying. And if a new name brings a notice that it is not on the list, it is definitely brought in by a pointer.

NOTE

Comprehension of the three paragraphs above will make the difference between working on the surface of QuickBooks, and working in the program.  Please do not proceed until you have read this material carefully.  Then, as you work, these ideas will soak in.  You will not miss the questions that you never have to ask.

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Last modified: May 21, 2004