Information in Description column

The Description column of the various account ledgers provides useful information - sometimes.

If the Description field of a cash receipt form is left blank, for example, then the Description column of the cash account register will show the transfer account and some additional information (e.g., the customer in the case of a receivable). For example:

02/29/2016 Accounts receivable - Acme Inc. US$ 200.00

This is useful.

However, if the Description field of a cash receipt form is used to record the check number, for example, that replaces the contents of the Description column, and you wind up with something like this in the cash account register:

02/29/2016 check #1234 US$ 200.00

That’s really not useful.

The contents of the Description field ought to supplement rather than replace the default contents, like this:

02/29/2016 Accounts receivable - Acme Inc - check #1234 US$ 200.00

Much more useful.

(This is one of a handful of examples of information not being displayed/printed where it would be helpful, or of narrative fields being displayed/printed in some circumstances but suppressed in others. Some of these examples have been fixed already; it would be good to see them fixed and made more consistent across all scenarios.)

Can you show screenshots in which context you see this?

For illustration, say I have two open invoices for customer Acme Limited Corp., and I receive a payment into my Cash account for each. On Invoice #1001, I happen to record the check number in the Description field:

On Invoice #1002, I happen to leave the Description field for the payment blank (and perhaps put the check number into the Notes field instead):

As discussed in a prior thread, neither receipt shows the contents of the Description field:

(Side note: One good sequela of putting the check number in the Notes field instead of the Description field is that it will appear on the receipt, which is something customers appreciate. However, whatever is in the Notes field won’t appear anywhere else.)

Now if I look at the Cash account by clicking on its View button, I see the first transaction described only by its check number (I can’t even tell by looking at the report which customer the money came from). The second transaction, on the other hand, is described by its transfer account, customer name, and invoice number:

(In other words, the transaction that has a Description ends up with a less-descriptive Description than the transaction that doesn’t have a Description!)

If I look at the Cash account by clicking on its Balance instead of using the View button, I get the table-kind of report. Here, both transactions get the customer’s name in the Description column, even though neither transaction had that in its Description field, and even though the customer’s name already appears in the Account column. (The transaction that had the check number in the Description field has that information added to the customer’s name in the Description column.)

Moving on the the Customer Statement, the contents of the Description field from the payment are omitted entirely from the Description column. Even the associated invoice number is missing from the payment entries here:

(The Customer Statement is where having the check number and invoice number that the payment was applied against would be most useful, to help the customer reconcile his account.)

In the General Ledger Transactions report, it sort of goes both ways. The Cash account section shows the company name and whatever was in the Description field, if anything. The A/R section shows the customer name, plus either whatever was in the Description field or, if the field was blank, the name of the transfer account (“Cash” here). If there was something in the Description field, then the transfer account is missing. The invoice number is not shown anywhere in either section:

And finally, if you drill down from the Customers tab into the invoices table and click in turn on the hyperlink for each of the two invoices, you see that the contents of the Description field are shown if anything, or the transfer account is shown if the Description field was blank. The transfer account is omitted if the Description field was not blank:

So the treatment is very inconsistent, and helpful information is omitted. Ideally, all of these places should include the customer’s name, the transfer account, the invoice number, and the contents of the Description field, if any.

<nit>(And while we’re looking at consistency, sometimes invoices are referred to as “Invoice #1001” and sometimes as just “Invoice 1001” without the # sign.)</nit>

I think this is not entirely dissimilar to the ongoing conversation about the recent modifications to inventory Code vs Name vs Description fields, in that it’s important for the user to be able to predict what will happen with the information she enters into each of these fields and to know which ones will find their ways onto which internal or external documents. When I type something into a Description field, as above, I can’t really be sure whether that information will appear on my statements, receipts, invoices, or what-have-you, nor can I be sure whether having a Description will cause some other important piece of information to be suppressed, like the customer’s name in the “Cash” screenshot above.


Very comprehensive, @Jon. I endorse everything you say. I will also add that receipts and payments would benefit from customer and supplier addresses, when they exist. Several users have requested this.