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The Timeline of a QuickBooks Online Estimate

August 11, 2019

The Timeline of a QuickBooks Online Estimate

Estimates, bids or quotes are used to promote your products and services. Take a look at how they are handled by QuickBooks Online.

In many professions, it is standard procedure to provide sales estimates. You would not have your kitchen remodeled, pay for a large yard landscaping project, or OK a car repair before you know up front what the cost will be.

An estimate does not have to be a formal document, however, In fact, a proposal for services or products jotted down on a napkin over lunch, and signed by the customer, is OK. However, the professionalism of your company and your image are reflected in your sales documents. So, doing it right is a good idea.

There are specialized tools in QuickBooks Online to address this part of selling. Detailed estimates can be created which QuickBooks Online will convert into invoices after you receive approval. Plus, you can use QuickBooks Online to monitor how your quotes are progressing. Here is a snapshot of the process.

A Form Dedicated to Estimates

Since you are familiar with creating invoices, creating estimates will not be hard because the process and forms are similar. Start by clicking the + (plus) sign to the right upper corner on your screen. Look in the Customers column and click Estimates. You will see a form like this example.

QuickBooks Online gives you a template form for creating estimates.
QuickBooks Online gives you a template form for creating estimates.


In the Customer field open the drop-down list and either pick the correct one or add a new customer by clicking +Add new.

Note: For convenience sake, QuickBooks Online does not require that you enter all of the necessary contact information for the new customer, only their name. However, it is a good idea to add at least their email address and physical address. You can return later to fill in the rest of the details. To open and see the complete record you simply click +Details. Save when you are done.

Below the Customer field you should see the word “Pending.” This is telling you the status of the estimate. To the right, there is a down arrow. Click it to see a small window. Click the down arrow there to see your options. To copy anyone else on the estimate, just click the Cc/Bcc link on the right and put in their email address or addresses.

To enter the Estimate Date, simply click the right date on the calendar interactive image. You can add an Expiration Date using the same process if you want to set one. But, you can simply leave this blank. Next, go to the Product/Service grid. Chose the specific items for when you are offering an estimate, one to a line. Make sure to enter the Qty (quantity) in its field and click the checkbox for taxable items.

Providing that you have already created a product record for an item, QuickBooks Online will automatically fill in the other fields. If this is a new product for QuickBooks Online, click +Add new. When you do this a Product/Service information pane slides in from the screen’s right side. As with the estimate, you only need to add a Name at this time, but best practice is to fill in all of the information at this time, Save, and go back to the estimate. If you have not done this before and need a little help, contact us and we will be pleased to walk you through the steps.

If you wish to add a discount for the estimate (dollar amount or percentage) do this in the right lower corner of your screen. Attach any files that you need to and edit the customer message (lower left) as necessary. Save when you are finished.

Estimate Options

Use the Sales Transactions screen for working with estimates.
Use the Sales Transactions screen for working with estimates.


Next, click the Sales link located on the vertical toolbar to the left. Then click the All Sales tab followed by the Estimates bar. When you see your estimate, look in the Action column at the row’s end. In order to convert this estimate to an invoice, simply click Create Invoice.  

When the next window opens you will see three options. Choose one.

  • A percentage of each line item,
  • A custom amount for each line, or,
  • The total of all lines.

Now you will double check the invoice and make any corrections required. Save. Now the status of your estimate is Closed and the invoice that you created using the estimate appears in the Sales Transactions screen. You can also see it in the Estimates by Customer report. The point of this discussion is that once you can create invoices, you can also create estimates. An issue to be aware of is amending estimates before billing or making changes before resubmitting it. If you are working a lot with estimates and want to do it correctly from the beginning, let us help you.

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QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based multi-functional accounting software suite aimed primarily at small and growing businesses. Its versatile framework makes it easy for users to manage and oversee a wide range of accounting tasks, including monitoring cash flow, reviewing transactions, categorizing expenses, checking invoice statuses, and staying on top of payroll and inventory.
Profit First helps you experience profit.