The US editions of QuickBooks prior to the 2009 release don’t provide support for multiple currencies. One common question I see from non-US businesses using these versions is “How do we change the currency symbol on my invoices?”. Today I’ll give you a few pointers on how to handle this. I will not be talking about how to deal with multiple currencies from an accounting standpoint. Please note that with the 2009 release the product supports multiple currencies.
In a typical installation for a US based business you will see the US dollar symbol on the total of your invoice.
There isn’t a way within QuickBooks itself to either hide that symbol, or to change it. QuickBooks picks this up from the Regional and Language Options settings in the Windows Control Panel. There are several ways we can alter these settings to affect your currency symbol, depending on what you are trying to do. Let’s discuss two scenarios:
- You want to conduct all of your transactions in a currency other than dollars – such as the Euro.
- Most of your transactions are in dollars but occasionally you need to generate an invoice in a foreign currency, such as the Euro.
Windows Currency Settings
For both of these situations you need to make changes to your Windows currency settings. Open your Windows Control Panel and locate the Regional and Language Options settings. In Windows Vista you would select that from the following screen:
In Windows XP you might see something like the following:
In both versions of Windows you will see the Regional and Language Options dialog – Vista’s version differs a bit from the one in XP, but they are similar. We’ll use XP to illustrate.
Changing the Symbol for ALL documents
If you want to change the currency symbol for every invoice, all you have to do is to select the new currency symbol. Once you do this QuickBooks will use the new symbol – note that all other Windows applications will use the new symbol as well. From the Regional Options tab (in Vista it is the Formats tab) click the Customize button.
Select the Currency tab, and then select your Euro symbol from the currency dropdown list.
If you are looking for a different currency than dollars or Euros you can simply type in the symbol that you want.
After you make this change and click the apply button you need to restart QuickBooks. As you see below, it now displays the new symbol.
Changing the Symbol for Selected Documents
A more complicated solution is needed if you only want to select the currency symbol for selected invoices. If, for example, most of your invoices are in dollars, but occasionally you need to send one in Euros, it would be very tedious to use the method described above. The problem here is that QuickBooks doesn’t provide a means of altering or dropping the currency symbol from the total on the invoice. I’ve seen a number of different attempts at working around this, usually involving extra work like dropping the total field and manually entering the value, and so forth. Here is an approach that I think works reasonably well.
First, go to the Currency tab of the Customize Regional Options window as shown above. Click on the Currency Symbol field, highlight the symbol that shows, and press the space bar once. You are replacing the symbol with a single space character. You aren’t allowed to just delete the symbol, you must replace it with a space.
After clicking apply and restarting QuickBooks, the program doesn’t display a symbol in the documents. Most likely you do want something to display, so you need to edit your template to show the proper symbol. There are several ways to dealing with this.
- The simplest is to create two templates, one for US dollars and one for Euros (or whatever alternate currency you are using). In your standard template add a $ sign (perhaps to the right of the total amount), change the “Total” label to be “Total $”, or a statement like “All amounts in US$” in a text box. Unfortunately you can’t have a floating symbol that is always at the left of the total amount. Then create a copy of this template to be used for Euro invoices, and insert the Euro symbol or statement.
- A more sophisticated approach might work if you are always billing customers in the selected currency. Create a “custom field” in the customer list for “Currency”, and insert the currency symbol or statement you want to use in this field for each customer. Then edit the template to add the currency symbol field in the appropriate place. Then you only need one template, and the currency symbol will be taken from the customer record.
Please note that with the 2009 release of QuickBooks they have added a multiple currency feature, so hopefully you won’t need to be concerned about this issue. However, in some cases, you will still find that the Windows settings affect how the program works (particularly if you haven’t enabled the multiple currency feature).
About the Author (Author Profile)
Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He’s been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70’s, focusing on inventory and accounting software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Look for Charlie’s articles in the Accountex Report blog, as well as his California Wildflower Hikes blog.