What are Items in QuickBooks?

What are Items, Anyway?!

**True confession mode ON.**

I have to admit it: when I first started using QuickBooks many moons ago, I had no idea what Items did! Well, that's not entirely true. I understood what Inventory Items did, but I did not understand other types of Items. I wondered and wondered: "What are Items?"

I knew for a very long time that I SHOULD understand them. I called QuickBooks technical support and talked to people there. I read about Items in books. I read about Items online. But I still didn't understand what they did!

I kept wondering why certain screens required them. I lamented, "Why can't we just post directly to the Chart of Accounts in the Invoice screen!" "Where is the money going when I use an Item?" "D*mn Intuit and their stupid Items!"

Then, one day out of the blue, a light dawned. It clicked. I got it.

And on many of the accounting forums I visit, I see that others are confused about Items as well. They don't get it yet. Are you one of them?

As you probably already know, on some forms in QuickBooks you have a choice of which to use:

  • The Expenses tab
  • The Items tab

The Expenses tab allows you to post directly to the chart of accounts. The Items tab does not. So what happens when you use the Items tab?

Here is my Quick and Easy definition of Items in QuickBooks:

Items are simply a way of posting transactions to the chart of accounts!

If you were not careful, it might have slipped right by!

Yes - Items are an intermediary step between you and the chart of accounts. Their function is simple: they take your transaction, and post it to the chart of accounts based on how you set them up initially.

Which Accounts Do Your Items Post To?

Go to the Items list, select which Item you want to examine, and press Control-E. You will be able to see which account it posts to.

Although this is true for all Item types, including Payroll Items and Sales Tax Items, I think they make the most sense for the following types:

  • Service
  • Non-Inventory Part
  • Other Charge
  • Payment

Items simply take your transaction amount, and post it to the Chart of Accounts based on how they are set up. That is it!

See? Is that easy or what?

With my best wishes for your success and happiness....

Jennifer Thieme's signature

What Are Items in QB? Still Confused? Contact Jennifer

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