Customize QuickBooks 2013 Invoices with the Layout Designer Tool - dummies

Customize QuickBooks 2013 Invoices with the Layout Designer Tool

By Stephen L. Nelson

If you’ve used the Basic Customization and the Additional Customization dialog boxes in QuickBooks 2013 to customize your invoice’s appearance and still aren’t satisfied, click the Layout Designer button, which is available in both dialog boxes.


QuickBooks displays the Layout Designer window. The Layout Designer window lets you move invoice information around on the actual printed invoice. Your best bet for learning to work with the Layout Designer tool is to experiment with it.

Create an example invoice form template — something you don’t really care about — and then use this new invoice form template for some goofing around.

Here are some of the things that you may want to try:

  • Moving and resizing objects: You can move and resize objects on the form pretty easily. To move some bit of the form, first select the bit by clicking it. Then use the arrow keys or drag the mouse to move the selected bit.

    You can resize the selected bit in a similar way. Resize the selected object by dragging the black squares (called resizing handles) that show the object is selected. When moving and resizing invoice form objects, keep two points in mind:

    • You can select the Show Envelope Window check box to have QuickBooks draw envelope windows on the invoice form to show you where these appear. You want to have envelope windows shown to make sure that your customized invoice still has its address information showing through.

    • You can click the Grid button to display the Grid and Snap Settings dialog box. This dialog box provides two check boxes where you can indicate whether QuickBooks should use a grid (those are the dots you see) to more accurately line up invoice objects on the form.

      The Grid and Snap Settings dialog box also includes a Snap To Grid box so you can tell QuickBooks that it should make gridlines sticky. Sticky gridlines automatically attract invoice objects so that you can more easily line up the objects against the gridlines. The Grid and Snap Settings dialog box also includes a Grid Spacing box that you can use to specify how wide or narrow QuickBooks should draw gridlines.

  • Selecting objects: You can select multiple objects on the invoice by dragging the mouse. To do so, click at a point above the upper-leftmost object that you want to select, and drag the mouse to a point that is just below the lower-rightmost object that you want to select.

    As you drag the mouse from one corner to the other, QuickBooks draws a rectangle. Any object that’s inside this rectangle when you release the mouse gets selected.

  • Resizing multiple objects: You can change the height, width, and size of multiple selected objects by clicking the Make Same Width, Make Same Height, and Make Same Size buttons. To use these Make Same buttons, you first select the objects that you want to make the same.

  • Changing column widths: You can change the width of columns in the column area of the invoice form by clicking the Column object. After you do this and QuickBooks selects the columns area, drag the column divider line left or right to resize the column.

    Note that if you make column 1 narrower, QuickBooks makes column 2 wider to take up the space. Also note that you can resize the entire column area in the manner described in the preceding point.

  • Positioning text within fields: If you click an invoice object and then click the Properties button, QuickBooks displays the Properties dialog box. The Properties dialog box includes a Text tab that lets you specify how text should appear within an invoice object area. The Properties dialog box also includes a Border tab that lets you specify whether QuickBooks should draw a border along the edges of the invoice object.


  • Changing fonts: You can change the font used for the selected object by clicking the Properties button, clicking the Text tab of the Properties dialog box, and then clicking the Font button that appears on this tab. QuickBooks displays the Example dialog box. The Example dialog box lets you choose a font; font style; a point size; and special effects, such as strikeout, underlining, and color.

  • Adjusting margins: If you click the Margins button, QuickBooks displays the Margins dialog box, which includes Top, Bottom, Left, and Right text boxes that you use to specify the margin around the invoice. The default or initial margin settings equal half an inch.

Center a selected object on an invoice form by clicking the Center button to activate the Layout Designer. You can click the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons to see more or less detail. If you want to undo your most recent change, click Undo, or click the Redo button to undo your last undo option.

After you use the Layout Designer to make whatever changes are appropriate to your new invoice form template, click OK to save your changes.

QuickBooks provides one other form design tool you can tap to create invoice (and other) forms (and other QuickBooks forms) that more closely match your requirements: the web-based QuickBooks Forms Customization tool.

You access this tool by clicking the Customize Design button on the Formatting tab. When you do this, QuickBooks displays a web page that steps you through a full-fledged graphic design session for the invoice form. To use this approach, you simply follow the web page’s instructions.