Specify Reports & Graphs Preferences in QuickBooks 2013

By Stephen L. Nelson

The My Preferences tab of the Reports & Graphs Preferences set in QuickBooks 2013 provides radio buttons that you can use to indicate how QuickBooks should refresh reports when the information upon which the report is based changes. The default refresh option is Refresh Automatically.

You can also select the Prompt Me to Refresh radio button to have QuickBooks only (politely) suggest that you refresh a report only whenever the data changes. (You may not want to refresh automatically if you have a large data set and many reports. Refreshing a report can be rather time-consuming.) You can also select the Don’t Refresh radio button if you don’t want or don’t need to be reminded about refreshing a report.


The Prompt Me to Modify Report Options before Opening a Report check box, if selected, tells QuickBooks to open the Modify Report window whenever you create a report.

You can use the Modify Report window to control what information is included in a report (such as what date range the report is based on) and other reporting options as well. If the Prompt Me to Modify Report Options before Opening a Report check box isn’t selected, QuickBooks creates a report by using the default reporting options.

The Graphs Only check boxes let you control the way QuickBooks graphs report information. You can select the Draw Graphs in 2D check box to tell QuickBooks to draw two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional graphs. (QuickBooks draws two-dimensional graphs much more quickly, so you may want to use two-dimensional graphs.)

Note that two-dimensional graphs are visually more precise than three-dimensional graphs. You can also select the Use Patterns check box to tell QuickBooks to draw a graph that uses cross-hatching patterns rather than colors for the different pieces of a chart.

This Company Preferences tab provides several useful options for default report generation rules. The Summary Reports Basis radio buttons, for example, let you indicate whether the default accounting method used to create a report should be accrual-basis accounting or cash-basis accounting.

The Aging Reports radio buttons let you specify how the age of an invoice or bill should be calculated: from the due date or from the transaction date. The Reports – Show Accounts By radio buttons let you specify how account information appears on reports: account name only, description only, or both name and description.


Two other Company Preference options are especially noteworthy. The Classify Cash button displays a dialog box that lets you indicate whether changes in a particular account balance should appear under the operating, investing, or financing portion of the Statement of Cash Flows.

If you’re not a professional accountant, you want to get your CPA’s help in making changes to this area of QuickBooks. The rules for presenting a Statement of Cash Flows are quite involved.

The Format button displays the Report Format Preferences dialog box, which lets you customize the report header and footer information. The following figure shows the Header/Footer tab for the Report Format Preferences dialog box.


The Show Header Information check boxes let you specify what information should appear in the report header area. The Show Footer Information check boxes let you make the same specifications for the report footer. The Page Layout Alignment drop-down list lets you specify how information should be aligned on the report page.

The Fonts & Numbers tab of the Report Format Preferences dialog box lets you specify what font and formatting you want to use for bits of report information.


For example, if you want to change the font for the reports column labels, click the Column Labels entry in the Change Font For list box; then click the Change Font button. QuickBooks displays a Font Formatting dialog box that lets you specify the font, font style, point size, and other special effects.