13.3. Accounts Receivable

Accounts Receivable (or A/R) refers to products or services provided by your company for which payment has not yet been received.

13.3.1. System Components

Transactions generated by the A/R system are recorded within the Accounts Receivable account. You should not work directly with this account. Instead, you will work with the four integrated GnuCash A/R application components available through the BusinessCustomer sub-menu. These four components are:

  • Customers are people or companies to whom you sell products or services on credit.

  • Invoices represent the physical invoice you send to a customer to request payment. This invoice contains an itemized list of things you sold.

    In addition, GnuCash also has support for Credit Notes which represent the inverse of Invoices. A credit note is usually handed to a customer to correct items that were incorrectly invoiced or returned.

    Both document types will be set up using the same menu items. Credit notes were introduced starting with GnuCash stable release 2.6.0.

  • Jobs (optional) is where you register Customer Jobs. Jobs are a mechanism by which you can group multiple invoices to a particular customer.

  • Process Payments is used to register payments you received from a customer.

13.3.2. Customers

Customers are people or companies to whom you sell goods or services. They must be registered within the A/R system.

13.3.2.1. New

To register a new customer, enter the menu BusinessCustomerNew Customer. Fill in customer information, such as Company Name, Address, Phone, Fax, etc.

New Customer Registration Window

New Customer Registration Window

13.3.2.2. Find and Edit

To search for an existing customer, use the BusinessCustomerFind Customer window. You select a customer to View/Edit from the results of the search. This window is also used to look up customers when creating invoices and processing payments.

Find Customer Window

Find Customer Window

If many customers match the search criteria you provide, the search can be refined by running an additional search within the current results. The current result set is searched when the Refine Current Search radio button is selected. In fact, GnuCash selects this option for you after you run the initial search.

If the customer you are searching for does not match the supplied search criteria, change the search criteria, click the New Search radio button and then the Find button. The relevant step is the New Search selection. If the customer is not in the result of the original search, and you only search within this set, the customer cannot be found, regardless of new search criteria.

Note

To return a list of all registered active customers, set the search criterion to matches regex, and place a single dot "." in the text field area. Make sure Search only active data is checked, then click Find. The regular expression "." means to match anything.

13.3.3. Invoices

An invoice is the paperwork you send to a customer to request payment for products or services rendered. GnuCash can generate and track invoices.

A credit note is the paperwork you send to a customer to correct products or services rendered that were incorrectly invoiced. GnuCash can generate and track credit notes via the same menu entries as invoices.

Note

This section applies to both invoices and credit notes. In order to avoid repeating everything twice and to keep the text easier to read it will refer only to invoices. You can apply it equally to credit notes. Only where the behavior of credit notes differs from invoices this will be explicitly mentioned.

13.3.3.1. New

To send an invoice to a customer you must first create the new document. To create an invoice use BusinessCustomerNew Invoice. The New Invoice window must be filled in appropriately.

Creating a New Invoice

Creating a New Invoice

When you click the OK button, the Edit Invoice window opens.

13.3.3.2. Edit

From the Edit Invoice window you can enter an itemized list of goods and services you sold on this invoice in a manner similar to how the account register works. For credit notes you enter an itemized list of goods and services you refunded instead.

Edit Invoice Window

Edit Invoice Window

When you have finished entering all the items, you can Post and print the invoice.

13.3.3.3. Post

When you finish editing an invoice and are ready to print, you must Post the invoice. The invoice does not have to be posted immediately. In fact, you should only post an invoice when you are ready to print it. Posting an invoice places the transactions in an accounts receivable account.

Post Invoice Window

Post Invoice Window

13.3.3.4. Find

To find an existing invoice, use the BusinessCustomerFind Invoice menu item. From the results of the search, you can select an invoice to edit or view.

Note

Before you can edit a posted invoice, you will need to Unpost it.

One of the design goals in GnuCash’s Account Receivable system was to allow different processes to get to the same state, so you can reach an invoice from different directions based on the way you think about the problem:

  • You can search for the customer first, then list their invoices.

  • You can search for invoices by number or by company name.

  • You can list invoices associated with a customer job.

13.3.3.5. Print

After you post an invoice, you should print it and send it to your customer. To print an invoice use FilePrint Invoice menu item.

Invoice Print Output

Invoice Print Output

Note

You can modify the appearance of the invoice, IE: add a company logo, etc. To do so, see the Section 13.3.6, “Changing the Invoice Appearance”.

Invoices can also be printed from the main window by selecting ReportsBusiness ReportsPrintable Invoice from the main menu. The resulting report window states that no valid invoice is selected. To select the invoice to print:

  1. Use the Options Toolbar button or select EditReport Options from the main menu.

  2. Select the General tab of the report options dialog.

  3. Click the Select button next to the Invoice Number field.

  4. Search for the invoice as usual.

You can also print invoices from within the Process Payment dialog. See the Section 13.3.5, “Process Payment” for instructions on how to do so.

13.3.3.6. Assign Starting Invoice Number

By default, GnuCash starts with invoice number 1 and increments from there. You can manually type an invoice number into the text box each time you create an invoice, but this gets tiring and sooner or later leads to duplicate numbers.

You can change the starting invoice number if it is important you. Use FileProperties, access the Counters tab, change the Invoice number value to be one less than your desired starting invoice number and click the OK button or the Apply button.

13.3.4. Customer Jobs

Customer Jobs are used to group multiple invoices and credit notes to the same customer. Use of the Customer Jobs feature is optional. The feature is useful when you have multiple jobs for the same customer, and would like to view all the invoices and credit notes related to a single job.

New Customer Job

New Customer Job

To use customer jobs, you must create them using the BusinessCustomerNew Job menu item. You will see the New Job window.

To edit an existing customer job, use the BusinessCustomerFind Job menu item. Select the desired job in the search results, and click the View/Edit Job button.

To select from the invoices and credit notes associated with a given job, use BusinessCustomerFind Job menu item. Select the desired job in the search results and click the View Invoices button. A window listing invoices and credit notes associated with this job appears. Select an invoice or credit note and click the View Invoice button to open an invoice editor in the main application window.

13.3.5. Process Payment

Eventually, you will receive payment from your customers for outstanding invoices. To register these payments, use the Process Payment application found in BusinessCustomerProcess Payment.

Process Payment

Process Payment Window

13.3.6. Changing the Invoice Appearance

The default Invoice style, as shown in Section 13.3.3.5, “Print”, is fairly barren. The default invoice style leaves the top part of the form blank, so you can print on company letterhead paper. There are some things you can do to change invoice appearance.

Use FileProperties to enter your Company information in the Business tab of the Book Options window. Some of the entered information is printed on the right side of invoices.

To add a customized background, heading banner or logo to invoices, modify the invoice style sheets. To do this, go to EditStyle Sheets and select the New button in the Select HTML Style Sheet window that will appear. You will then see a window like this:

New Style Sheet Window

The New Style Sheet window.

Give a Name to the new style sheet (e.g. Custom Invoice) and select the Fancy Template. When you click the OK button, the HTML Style Sheet Properties window is displayed. This window presents you five sections listed in the left pane: Colors, Fonts, General, Images, and Tables. The Colors section allows you to change the colors of various items of the invoice. The Fonts section lets you set fonts type and dimensions. The General section allows you to set the Preparer and Prepared for information, and to Enable Links. The Images section allows you to import graphics into the style sheet. The Tables section allows you to adjust the spacing around the tables which make up the invoice.

To include a company logo, banner heading and background image, use your favorite graphics application such as The Gimp or OpenOffice Draw to save the images in either GIF or PNG format. Then import them into the style sheet using the Images section described above.

Below is an example that imports all three types of images.

HTML Style Sheets example

The HTML Style Sheets window with an example Background Tile, Heading Banner, and Logo.

Note

The images are placed in the invoice as follows. The Background Tile is tiled to become the background image, the Heading Banner goes to above the invoice text, and the Logo is placed in the upper left corner of the invoice to the left of the Heading Banner. You will probably have to try a few different sized images until you get the invoices to print nicely. Some sizing suggestions are that the Logo should be 1 square cm (~0.5 inch), and the Heading Banner should be 15 cm (~6 inches) wide and 1 cm (~0.5 inch) tall.

With the style sheet configured, when you print the invoice, you select the style sheet to use from the Options menu. Below is the resultant invoice after applying the style sheet demonstrated above.

HTML Style Sheets example

The hideous invoice which results from the graphics selected in the style sheet.