Flat View vs Hierarchical View in QuickBooks: What’s the Difference?

When using QuickBooks Desktop, you may notice an option to switch from flat view to hierarchical view and vice versa. QuickBooks Desktop supports two different view types: flat and hierarchical. You can access them in the Customer Center. Regardless of the view type, your data will remain the same. The view type simply changes the presentation of the data. What’s the difference between the flat and hierarchical view exactly?

What Is Flat View?

Flat view means that all items will be displayed on the same level. In QuickBooks Desktop, they’ll be aligned to the left. None of the items will be higher or lower than other items. Rather, flat view lives up to its namesake by using a flat, same-level display orientation for all items.

What Is Hierarchical View?

Hierarchical view is an alternative display option for items. It’s characterized by hierarchy. Hierarchy, of course, means that some items are higher or lower than other items. They aren’t on the same level. When given hierarchy, items have a parent. A parent is a higher-level item.

It’s important to note that items can have multiple levels of parent. An item placed directly under another item has a single parent. But parents can have their own parents, resulting in multiple levels. The bottom line is that flat view uses a same-level display orientation, whereas hierarchical view uses a hierarchical display orientation in which items have parents.

Choosing Between Flat View and Hierarchical View

You can choose your preferred view type in the Customer Center. Assuming you’re using a version of QuickBooks that supports this feature, click the “Customers” link at the top of the main menu and select “Customer Center.” Next, right-click anywhere on your customer list.

After right-clicking your customer list, you should see a list of new options. There’s a “Hierarchical View” option and a “Flat View option. Clicking these options will enable hierarchical view or flat view, respectively.

The view type is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Some business owners and accountants prefer to use flat view, whereas others prefer to use hierarchal view. As previously mentioned, the view type won’t affect your data. Whether you choose flat view or hierarchical view, it will only change the presentation of your data. Feel free to experiment with both view types to determine which one works best for your accounting needs.

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