Making the General Ledger Transactions report more useful

I have been trying to sleuth out an incorrect entry on my books, but my ability to do so is greatly impaired by the lack of fully descriptive entries in the General Ledger Transactions reports and by the absence of a Journal report.

1) General Ledger Transactions report: While many of the transactions in the report contain full details, many do not. At a minimum, each entry should reveal the payee and the transfer account for the transaction, in addition to the date, description, and amount. This is sometimes the case, but not always. For example, in the Cash section of the report, I have many entries that show nothing more than the date, the word “Cash,” and the amount – even though the transaction itself has a payee and a transfer account. In the Billable expenses section, there are debits for expenses that don’t show the customer on whose behalf the expense was incurred, and there are credits against those expenses that don’t show the number of the invoice on which it was billed – even though this information was entered in the transactions themselves. In the Accounts payable section, there are entries that don’t show the purchase invoice number or the account that was used to pay the bill. And so on. It’s hard for me to track down an incorrect entry when I have dozens of nearly identical entries in my G/L report that say something like 02/04/2016 - Cash - $9.99.

There should be consistency between sections of the report, and all line items should give enough information to understand what the entry represents and – importantly – to identify the account(s) on the other side of the T.

(This may be part of the bigger problem of not having full consistency in when and where the various Description, Payee, and Number fields appear in various documents and reports across Manager. It’s gotten much, much better in recent weeks, but it’s still not uniformly implemented.)

2) Journal report: Really the best tool for tracking down a mistake in a ledger is a transaction journal. I’ve requested a Journal report before, and I imagine that this is something that will be do-able once Custom Reports happens. Even so, a basic Journal report should be part of the core in-built report package, since it represents the history of the business at the most fundamental level. An accurate Journal report is a critical component of any audit.


I really really dislike General Ledger Transactions report. I don’t even believe it has its place in Manager to be honest.

Manager is heavy on control accounts and subsidiary ledgers. General Ledger Transactions report will amalgamate transactions within control accounts so it’s very difficult to understand movements anyway (even if all transactions have proper descriptions).

What specific issue are you facing? I’m sure there is easier way to resolve it than ever looking at General Ledger Transactions report.

Oh, please please don’t get rid of the G/L Transactions report!

For one thing, it’s the closest thing we have to being able to create a document that captures all activity on all accounts. At the end of each fiscal year, I save a G/L Transactions report that I can file away on paper or on PDF in case someday I lose my Manager file or Manager stops working for some reason. (Unlikely anytime soon, of course, but we all have old Word 5.0 files on old floppy disks lying around that we can’t access anymore.) If my Manager file for past years were ever to get lost, at least I would have my G/L Transactions report to give some support to my financial statements.

For another, I’ve had several times where I couldn’t get rid of an erroneous transaction, because the transaction had dependencies that prevented it being deleted. Or I’ve had payments that I had mistakenly applied to the wrong invoice or the wrong customer. Or I’ve had vendor payments that created messy over-payments and caused superfluous entries on statements and needed to be reallocated to the proper supplier invoices. In all of these cases, scanning through the G/L Transactions report helped me find the relevant transactions, which I could then directly retrieve by clicking the hyperlink in the report.

I actually find the G/L Transactions report to be extremely useful, and I think having a Journal Report would extend that usefulness in all of these use-cases.

Basically, although it’s great to have Manager as a front-end for reviewing my financial data on a usual basis, there are times when I (or my accountant, or my tax auditor) need to get a look at the data underneath without having to jump through the user interface. Access to the General Ledger – and to the Transactions Journal – are very necessary to this end.

I support @Jon’s ideas for a more useful journal report. While we all probably have different uses, the equivalent of the old journal could be a lifesaver. I, too, currently archive paper copies of the financial statements at year’s end against the possibility of future electronic incompatibility (be honest, it’s happened to all of us despite our efforts at backup).

I haven’t been archiving the GL Transactions report, though, because it has been so useless. So in that sense, I also agree with @lubos. A better-designed replacement seems like the answer. And it should include the possibility of specifying date ranges and limiting to specific accounts.

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I see the General Ledger reports and a Journal report as complements to each other. One is a transaction-centric view of the information, while the other is the account-centric view of the same information. I think you need both to get a full memorialization of the record.

I do agree with @Tut, though, that the G/L Transactions report needs to be better-designed – hence the suggestion I made at the very top of this thread for more consistency and transparency in the transaction descriptions that appear on the report. But that redesign should still be account-centric, to be complemented by a separate transaction-centric Journal report rather than to be replaced by it.

The best way is to archive .manager files. If you are worried future versions (let’s say 10 years from now) won’t be able to open very old .manager file, archive also current version of Manager installation file. This way you are always guaranteed to be able to open your accounting data. Even 100 years from now. It doesn’t matter what computers we will be using 100 years from now, we will be able to emulate environment to open programs which are written today.

The point I’m trying to make is not to use this report as a “backup” mechanism. The report doesn’t contain all your data, only subset.

I think every transaction can be deleted and Manager should be able to handle it gracefully.

This is why I got rid of ability to debit/credit customer credits or supplier credits accounts which was making really messy ledger. Now it’s much easier to analyze customer or supplier ledger by simply going to Customers tab or Suppliers tab and clicking on their Balance. You will see complete history of their account as if you’d be generating customer or supplier statement.

I understand but every time you need to resort to this report, I see it as something is wrong with Manager. That’s why I’m interested to hear specifically when you use this report as it helps uncover new issues.

@Lubos, thank you for the long reply, but I have to disagree very strongly with this particular statement. I do disaster recovery for a living. No matter how carefully you plan an electronic backup strategy, core information must be archived on paper for recovery from a worst-case scenario. 100 years from now – even possibly 20 years from now – we probably won’t be able to read the electronic media on which the .manager file is stored (hard drives crash, CDs and DVDs degrade, USB sticks devices are vulnerable to magnetic erasure, and operating systems go obsolete).

I have a drawer full of floppy disks with MacWrite files from the 1980’s and Word 5.0 files from the 1990’s that I can’t access because I no longer have a working floppy drive and because there doesn’t seem to be a converter for MacWrite files and because I no longer have access to a Macintosh – and even if I did, I doubt they can still run MacWrite from the original Mac – and because simple MS-DOS emulators won’t run Word 5.0 – and even if they could, and even if I still had my original installation disks, I don’t have a computer with a floppy drive to install it onto.

All I’m saying is that paper is the eternal storage medium, and it behooves any business to archive critical data on paper – and to store the paper in a safe place. (Even when we e-File, we all print out copies of our tax returns on paper for that same reason.) If I were to be audited 7 years from now, I don’t think the tax authority would be satisfied if I were to tell them that I can’t access my books because I no longer have access to the data.

Short of printing out every invoice, every receipt, every purchase order on paper, the best solution is to print out a General Ledger and a Journal Report at the end of every fiscal year and store it in a safe place with the tax returns and other critical documents.

Yes, and I’ve used the General Ledger Transactions report to help me track down which transactions I needed to delete or fix in order to delete or fix a subsequent error. Sometimes you have to work backwards until you find the source of the mistake, and the G/L Transactions report has been invaluable in allowing me to do that.

Not in the least!!! Au contraire, that Manager provides this report is actually something that is very right with Manager. It automates and hides many of the complexities of accounting while still providing access when necessary to the details for error-checking, archiving, and even just for someone new to accounting to understand what is happening behind the curtain.

Manager without a G/L Transaction Report or without Journal Entries capability would be a much less attractive program. Fixing the G/L Transaction Report and adding a Journal Report as suggested in the original posting in this thread would enhance it to that end.

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I do strongly disagree with @lubos too. I’m an accountant and reports is all we need. I still have to learn a few things about Manager, which I’m using as my first option now, but in the reports area I would include a few things, with all due respect. The General Ledger is something that you cannot simply live without. In many countries you have to store your accounting for a long time. Usually 10 years. This include, not only backups copies of your data but also hard copies of all data, including invoices, supporting documents, financial reports, etc. But in accounting, General Ledger is everything. You can literally re-create all your accounting with a General Ledger and your Journal Entries. The General Ledger is the core of all accounting -I don’t know how to put it so…-. A General Ledger report should show the date, reference number, vendor/client, description, the other account affected in the transaction, amount in debit/credit, total of account and balance of account in every one of them. So, basically, all your accounting is in a General Ledger Report. Accounting is simple but at the same time a bit complicated in reporting. General Ledger is the first thing an accountant would ask to show him in an audit, review, etc. With that, he can create a trial balance and therefore, a balance sheet, income statement, cash flows, or any other report. I hope the General Ledger stays in Manager and maybe even improve a little. Cheers!



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I would concur that hardware and software technologies change over time and no-one can actually predict what computers we will be using in ten years time!

Computers are wonderful in many ways, but I fully agree having a printed copy of a report that can summarise the years transactions in the manner that accountants can view ten years later is vital. With the best will in the world, people change computers moving from Windows to Mac to Linux and upgrade operating systems etc. Hoping that you can access data created ten years ago is not guaranteed given that we all have VHS Cassettes, tape cassettes etc that we can no longer play as technologies change etc. I fully agree that a paper copy is essential as end of the world last resort.

I have never used the General Ledger Report so cannot comment on that.

Now that this question has been raised, what should I be archiving for accountants and tax authorities to be viewing - the general ledger summary or general ledger transactions. At the moment, all I am doing is printing out all my supplier invoices so I have a paper copy of every purchase as this is most likely what the taxman will be interested in as well as my bank statements to show money coming in matches what I am recording in Manager. I am not sure what else the taxman or accountant would be interested in say ten years later.

The only report that I am currently using is the VAT Calculation Report every quarter and my accountant and I create the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet at the end of every year.

As pointed out by @Sulfuror, You should archive your General Ledger Transactions report. The G/L Summary doesn’t give enough detail to help you validate your books. With a G/L Transactions report plus a Journal report, you can re-create all of your accounts. (You can do that with either of those two reports alone, assuming you have then going back to Day Zero, but only if the G/L Transactions report includes all of the details for each transaction – details that are currently not included in Manager’s report. That’s why having a Journal report is also important – and by “Journal report” I don’t just mean a list of all Journal Entries transactions that were made manually in Manager, but rather a complete log of all transactions showing which accounts were debited and which accounts were credited each time, including behind-the-scenes “automatic” transactions that Manager takes care of for you.)

You should also archive a paper copy of all of your Sales Invoices and Purchase Invoices so you have the line-time details and all of the things that don’t go into the ledger directly, like whom you mailed the invoice to, the due dates, invoice notes, etc. And just like you no doubt print and save a copy of all of your income tax returns, I’d print and save anything directly related to tax remittances to the government, like the VAT Calculation report that you mentioned.

To that, I would add the major financial reports (Balance Sheet, Income (P/L) Statement, and Cash Flows Statement.

(I do not use the Payroll or Inventory modules, so I can’t say whether you would want to print out, for example, a copy of every pay stub.)


I add my endorsement of @sulfuror’s comments to my previous endorsement of @Jon’s.

You don’t even have to look 10 years down the line to realize the value of paper records. Recently, I found myself unable to open a 2-year old tax return for an audit despite having the original software installed…on my new computer, with which it was mysteriously not compatible. And I was so proud of myself for even archiving the original tax software and returns on CDs in addition to all other backups. Fortunately, I had the paper printouts.

The change in office practices with the advent of computers hasn’t been to replace paper, but to enable us to produce it faster and more accurately. So, of course, we produce more of it. :wink:

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While I support the concept that proper General Ledger Reports are a basic minimum for any accounting system, in defence of the trees, the need to actually store on paper is a bit redundant when there are universal formats such as pdf or jpg. Regardless of technology changes, these formats are such a huge part of the commercial universe and aren’t likely to come obsolete like the technology that once created those documents. My oldest pdf’s go back decades and are still readable - when I last needed to access.

Just imagine if major Law or Accounting firm kept all there client records on paper because of potential technology changes. However, you do need to transfer/upgrade your storage as devices become obsolete with time - 5 1/4 to 3 1/2 to USB to Cloud.

I accept that in some jurisdictions, paper is still a specification but in most countries the ability to reproduce the accounts (if required) is the minimum requirement - the storage method is up to the user. As in life there is always exceptions - Employee/Payroll being one.

An extreme example could be - the business only has records of its BS & P&L - all other records destroyed. If it is required to “reproduce” any particular accounting period it could obtain copies of its Bank & Credit Card statements and rebuild the accounts and probably get within 95% of the original balances.


Thank you, I will have a look at this sometime this week. I might go with @Brucanna suggestion about using PDF’s as I agree that PDF’s are pretty unlikely to ever become obsolete - well not in our lifetime! I can always transfer from platter hard drives to SSD Drives and whatever else comes out, so this would probably be preferable for me as I agree with Brucanna about the trees - not withstanding the time it would take to print everything! PDF reports would be a viable option to ensure guaranteed access ten years later type thing.

Can we refocus the conversation here, please?

This started with a request for more consistency and completeness in level of detail on the General Ledger Transactions report and for a complete low-level Journal report.

Some users won’t use those reports. Many others of us will. A few of us have made a compelling argument for why we consider these two reports vital to be able to track down errors, to demonstrate the integrity of our records in the face of an audit, and to ensure business continuity in the face of data loss. Whether we print the reports to paper and store copies in ten mayonnaise jars around the country, or whether we save the reports as PDFs and upload them to Dropbox, we see the need for these reports as a good business practice.

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Exactly. As for me, I store all my reports in PDF and reports in LibreOffice / Excel. It is not like I will print all my life in paper. In my country, tax returns have printed letters saying “store for 10 years”. Governmental agencies does not specify how I need to store my tax returns for 10 years, so I do it digitally. Of course, I do as much backup as I need, physical and in “clouds” because you can’t just trust your entire data with one backup. I’m paranoid enough to even encrypt everything before send it outside my control. But the real topic is that the General Ledger Report need some more detail. For example, I can export a General Ledger for internal use, to track errors like @Jon said, or even to create custom reports for my internal use or other use, based on the General Ledger Report, or I can format any report in LibreOffice / Excel in the form that I want with a General Ledger. I can do this with other reports but if I need details of transactions I expect that the General Ledger Report give those details that I need for my special report, use, etc.

One thing I dislike about general ledger transactions report is that it can get really long.

I’m not denying the ability to get the data but it’s not really suitable report to be printed or even saved as PDF file.

General ledger doesn’t belong on paper or PDF. It belongs to spreadsheet where it can be searched, filtered, summarized, sorted by any column etc.

And I think this is where general ledger transactions “report” should be heading to. There can be prominent button in Manager which would let you export General Ledger as structured spreadsheet with many columns.


I think the answer to that question - pdf or xlsx is dependant on what use the general ledger transactions will be put to.

My understanding is that there are three uses.
End of the world Recovery Solution for obsolete file formats - thus PDF would be appropriate
When people are trying to find an error within the program (as Jon mentioned in this topic), then xlsx would probably be far better.
Format for accountant or taxman to view ten years later. I would imagine pdf?

Perhaps an option to export to pdf or xlsx would be best.

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Tax authorities in several some countries still (in the 21st century) require to have a ‘printed’ general ledger book either monthly or annual for at least 5 year, other countries ask to keep those records for at least 10 years either printed or pdf (digitally secured to avoid modifications)

In these cases, this can be solved by exporting a comprehensive report in a spreadsheet, as @lubos suggested, that can be printed afterwards for official purposes, or saved as pdf, or even to work within the same spreadsheet.

I am definitely going to have to ask my accountant, what records I should be keeping to this end for the UK. Interesting that some authorities still require printed records (other than suppliers invoices), so I will definitely check.