Getting personal with custom fields

As a small business owner, you already know that a personal touch can mean the difference between a great profit year and a mediocre break-even season. With custom fields, QuickBooks can help you track those personal details that boost your bottom line. You can also use custom fields for items you sell or purchase.

You can use custom fields to keep useful tidbits of information about customers, vendors, and employees. For employee custom fields, you might want to track cell phone number, birthday, spouse’s name, and date of last raise. Most of that same information could be useful to track for your customers as well–nothing makes a customer feel special like receiving a real birthday card in the mail!

QuickBooks makes it simple to retrieve the information in custom fields once you’ve stored it. Rather than laboriously sort through each customer record to find this month’s birthdays, you can use your Birthdays custom field to filter a report by month. That way, you’ll get a list of all your customers with birthdays this month (and of course, easy access to their mailing addresses too).

Custom fields can cut across customer, vendor, and employee lists (which can be useful for information like email addresses and cell phone numbers). But be aware that like many good things, custom fields have limits. One list can have a maximum of seven custom fields associated with it, and all three lists can have a total of fifteen custom fields. The good news: custom fields for items don’t count toward this total—they’ve got their own separate tally.

How to set up custom fields:

  1. Open the list that you’d like to add a custom field to. For this example, I will open my Vendor list. (Lists > Vendors)
  2. Choose a vendor and select the Edit button at the bottom of the list (or choose Edit > Edit Vendor.
  3. Select the “Additional Info” tab.
  4. On the right side of the window, you will see a Custom Fields section. To add, edit, or remove fields, select the Define Fields button.
  5. Make your changes and select OK when you’re ready.

Once you’ve got custom fields set up for your lists, you can put them to some real work. Use Layout Designer to add custom fields to purchase orders, invoices, and any other form. If you’ve filled in an address for your E-Mail Address custom field associated with a vendor, and then add that custom field to a purchase order, the address prefills into the E-Mail Address field for each purchase order you create for that vendor. Don’t worry—if for some reason you need to change that information for this specific PO, just do it. You won’t be changing the information in the vendor list.

On the other hand, if you need to change the name of a custom field—say you’re changing from E-Mail Address to Email—make that change on the Define Fields window for one vendor. The custom field name automatically changes to Email everywhere—including all the forms that include it. But none of the email addresses you’ve entered for customers, employees, or vendors change.

They’re slick, they’re quick, and they can give your business that little extra edge. Custom fields—create one today!

About Liz Hamill Scott

Liz Hamill Scott is the newest member of the QuickBooks for Mac team, but she's no stranger to QuickBooks. For the last few years, Liz has used QuickBooks for Mac to track the many expenses she incurs as a travel, food, and lifestyle writer. The author of The Imperfect Traveler's Guide to Traveling With Pain, five Moon Handbook travel guides to California and numerous magazine, newspaper, and blog articles, Liz loves advocating for travelers with hidden disabilities and takes the business of being a sole proprietor seriously. You can find Liz on the web at See all of Liz's articles

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