- Entering and tracking bills is a critical component of the accounting cycle.
- Managing bills and payables manually is a dangerous practice that invites errors.
- QuickBooks has powerful features that can help you manage bills effectively while also generating key insights on payables and cash flow challenges.
- This article is for small business owners and accountants getting started with QuickBooks.
Most modern businesses have to deal with payables from multiple vendors for goods and services rendered, with different payment terms, due dates and other relevant details. It’s difficult to manage this level of financial complexity with scribbles on a piece of paper or calendar, and there are limits to how much even Excel accounting can help.
QuickBooks makes life easier for a small business accountant. It provides a host of powerful features to help track and manage finances, helping your business function smoothly while also providing insights on accounts payable management, cash flow projections and vendor relationships.
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Here’s a look at the basics of entering and managing bills in QuickBooks, along with insight into how QuickBooks can help ensure accurate financial reporting and decision-making. We’ll look at QuickBooks Online, which you can access easily via a web browser on any platform, as well as the QuickBooks Desktop Pro application.
Tip: QuickBooks has various tiers, versions and price points. Check out our article on how to decide which version of QuickBooks is best for your business.
How to enter bills into QuickBooks Online
After accessing QuickBooks Online and creating an account, the process of entering bills into the tool’s easy-to-use, feature-rich interface is straightforward.
Before entering your bills, you’ll need to set up your business’s vendors, products, services and items to sync with your bills. After this initial setup, many fields you encounter when entering new bills should auto-populate, matching relevant products, services, vendors and even specific product lines.
The following steps will guide you through the process of entering new bills into your QuickBooks online account; this process is the same regardless of the accounting methods you follow.
Did you know? The difference between cash and accrual accounting methods is that, in cash-based accounting systems, expenses are recognized only when they’re paid, regardless of when they were incurred.
1. Create a new bill.
QuickBooks Online has several menu items. To get started, click New. Then, under the Suppliers column, select Purchase Bill. This will open up the Bill interface, with relevant fields as shown in the next step.
2. Enter bill details.
The new Bill page will contain all relevant fields to input standard information unless you’ve customized the interface via QuickBooks’ advanced settings. The page and fields should be similar to this image:
The bill details are similar to the information you’d need to write a check. Here are some of the most commonly seen fields:
- Vendor: Choose to set up a new vendor, or select the vendor that sent the bill. Once selected, all the details related to the vendor populate automatically.
- Bill date: Input the invoice date from the bill. Be sure to enter the actual invoice date and not the date you received the bill.
- Due date: The due date is calculated automatically based on the bill’s date and the payment terms. Still, it’s a good idea to verify the due date by comparing it to the due date listed on the actual bill.
- Bill number: Enter the invoice number on the bill the vendor sent. This will be useful if you have to contact the vendor about the bill.
- Category: Choose the category from the drop-down list, or create a new account if one isn’t available or applicable, or if this isn’t an expense directly billed to customers.
- Description: Type in a description of the expense. You can be as thorough or brief as necessary; this information will help you easily recognize and understand the nature of the bill when you’re eventually closing accounts.
- Tax: Check the box if you want to collect sales tax upon billing the customer for the expense.
- Amount: This is the total amount or value of the bill.
- Markup percentage: This field is relevant if you want to bill the expenses to a customer. Enter the markup percentage if you want the billable amount to be higher than what’s being billed by your vendor or supplier.
- Billable: If you want to make this expense billable to the customer, check this option. Assigning the expense to the product or service instead of the category is a better way to handle a billable expense.
- Product/service: Any purchase made by a customer should be mapped to an inventory item. Assign service items to services billed to customers. Select a product or service, or choose Add New to set up a new product or service. Once selected, fields such as rate, description, tax, markup percentage and class populate automatically.
- Quantity: Enter the number of hours billed or products purchased. Once you enter the quantity, the amount is calculated automatically using the price multiplied by the quantity, in addition to any applicable markup percentage.
- Project/customer: Select the project or customer for the bill or create a new project or customer.
- Save: When you’ve entered all the details, select Save to save your bill.
3. Review your bill.
Once you’ve entered a bill, go to the Vendor Center to verify it. Navigate to the Expenses menu and select Vendors to see a list of suppliers. Locate the vendor and check the open balance to see the vendor’s outstanding amount. Click on the vendor’s name to see the details of all outstanding bills. You should be able to see the bill you just entered.
How to enter bills into QuickBooks Pro
The QuickBooks Desktop Pro application is just as user-friendly and powerful as the online version. When it comes to entering a bill, the process is very similar. Here’s how it works:
1. Select a vendor.
Navigate to the Vendors menu and use the dropdown menu to select the vendor who sent the bill. If you haven’t added this vendor to the list, click Add New and record the entry.
After selecting the vendor, the date, address and other details should automatically populate. If necessary, add an address manually. After verifying the details, proceed to the next step.
2. Enter payment terms.
If you’ve set up default payment terms for the vendor, you’ll see your preferences listed. Otherwise, choose payment terms and discount rates, if applicable.
These are the options for payment terms:
- 1% 10 Net 30
- 2% 10 Net 30
- Due on receipt
- Net 15
- Net 30
- Net 60
3. Fill in the details.
Verify the due date if it’s filled automatically. Then fill in additional details to complete the bill record. Here are the fields you’ll see:
- Memo: This field is optional. If you like, add a memo describing the bill.
- Date: Use the dropdown calendar to select the bill’s issue date.
- Reference number: If applicable, add a reference number.
- Amount: Enter the total amount due on the bill.
- Due date: If you haven’t set any vendor preferences, select the due date manually from the calendar.
4. Select the type of bill.
Next, you’ll see two tabs: Expenses and Items. Here’s what they mean.
- Expenses: This is a bill for expenses the business incurs, including utilities, rent and phone service.
- Items: This is a bill for anything the company sells, buys or resells. This includes products, discounts and shipping charges. Click Items to enter bills for specific products.
Choose the type of bill you’re recording. If it’s a utility bill, the Expenses tab is automatically selected, and the amount you entered should appear. Next, you’ll see the Account field, where you’ll select the proper entry. Other fields, such as Billable and Customer, can be left blank. They’ll be populated when you charge a customer for this item or expense.
5. Save the bill.
The final step is to click Save & Close to save the bill. If you want to create another bill, select Save & New. View your entered bills in the Bill Tracker, or select Pay Bills to start making payments.
QuickBooks Pro offers you an easy way to remember any outstanding bills, and you can even set up your system to pay bills automatically. To do this, click Memorize before closing out of a new bill. You’ll see a Memorize Transaction screen with three options.
- Add to My Reminders List: With this option, QuickBooks adds the bill to the Reminders list. To ensure you see your reminders every time you’re in QuickBooks, go to the Edit menu, select Preferences > Reminders > My Preferences, and then check the box next to Show Reminders List When Opening a Company File.
- Do Not Remind Me: If you check this option, you won’t be reminded about the transaction.
- Automate Transaction Entry: Select this option only if you’re sure the transaction will remain the same every time. In the Number Remaining field, enter the number of transactions that still need to be completed.
How to import bills into QuickBooks
If you’re moving to QuickBooks from another bookkeeping program, or have a batch of bills to enter, use the import option to save time and effort.
Here are the steps in QuickBooks Online:
1. Prepare the file.
Before you can import your bills to QuickBooks, prepare your Excel or CSV file with the following fields:
- Bill number
- Bill date
- Due date
- Line amount
- Line tax code
During the import process, you must map each column header to the QuickBooks bill fields.
2. Upload the file.
Follow these simple steps to upload the file for import:
- Under Settings, select Import Data.
- Select Bills. You’ll see an example of the data file.
- Once you see all the fields, select Browse and choose the sheet you prepared.
- Select Open > Next.
3. Map the headers.
You’ll be asked to review the column headers and map them to the fields in the QuickBooks bill. Select the date format and VAT option. You’ll also map the VAT codes to those in QuickBooks and select Next. Any mapping issues are highlighted, so you can always go back and make changes.
4. Complete the import.
QuickBooks will present you with an import summary. Select Start Import to begin the process. When the import finishes, you’ll see the status and you can verify that all your bills have been imported. After verifying, select Done > OK to complete the process.
Tip: Bulk imports can be challenging due to errors and inconsistencies in raw data files. If you’re importing data in bulk, consider working with a QuickBooks expert, who can identify issues and clean data when necessary.
Staying on top of your finances
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro can help you organize your accounting and gain control of your finances. To learn more about the QuickBooks accounting software, read our in-depth QuickBooks accounting software review. But if QuickBooks doesn’t feel right for your business, consider a QuickBooks alternative that may better suit your budget and goals. The most important thing is to manage your cash flow and stay on top of your financial reporting.